When I was a young girl, my late grandfather would take me through stories of India. Sometimes they would be the typical stories children of Indian families heard … ancient tales of gods and goddess figures.
But other times he told me of his experiences. What it felt like to be a young boy under British rule. What his town was like during Indira Gandhi’s emergency. These stories were my favorite. I could picture him as a boy my age. And even if he didn’t directly say it, I could see parts of his world being torn apart by policies that went against his country’s peaceful roots.
He was a professor, both in India and the USA. His connections with people like Salman Rushdie allowed me to actually feel India’s history through an experiential lens vs. the painted picture of facts that the traditional narratives of history books depicted.
These history books never taught me that while ruling India 157 years ago, the British introduced a law while at the peak of their Victorian-era that banned same sex intercourse throughout the nation.
As the largest democracy in the world, this ban was still in place…until today.
This morning, I read in the Los Angeles Times, “In a verdict that invoked ideals of equality, morality, individual choice and even the very nature of love, a five-judge panel delivered a thundering denunciation [of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code].”
The very nature of love.
Here is where my children are growing and witnessing this very world. And even in it’s ugly, I am so happy as a mother to know there is a sense of oneness that exists for their future.
Some time back, I read the novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and his sequel, Mountain Shadow. If you know the books, he lived in India as a fugitive and writes of his daily adventures. His words dance off the pages of being in a land that feels so close in my heart yet so far away for my American heels.
He wrote, “In all the things that really matter, we are one. Love and faith, trust and empathy, family and friendship, sunsets and songs of awe: in every wish born in our humanity we are one. Our humankind, at this moment in our destiny, is a child blowing on a dandelion, without thought or understanding. But the wonder in the child is the wonder in us, and there’s no limit to the good we can do when human hearts connect. It’s the truth of us. It’s the story of us…we are one. We are one. We are one.”
I keep this quote in my journal. Every time I read it, I feel it within my soul like she is dancing. And as I witness my Indian brothers and sisters of my ancestral motherland dance in the street today, I feel that beat of happiness and pride in my soul.
Dancing to the drums and songs of a freedom that is long overdue.