On Sunday, a friend who makes a monthly visit to me to let off steam and to recharge his batteries, inevitably on Sundays when he has his weekly off, came over to rant about his latest outrage.
My friend, let us call him KD, is an atheist born in the Roman Catholic tradition. He is a bon vivant who is totally secular. He is divorced from his wife who is a non practicing Protestant Christian and daughter of a pastor of one of those prolific evangelical Protestant sects that dot the Indian landscape. Her family has many pastors in it and most other members are devout and have slogans like “Jesus Saves” and “Praise The Lord” on their vehicles.
With that background, the story will now become clearer. KD has a step son, from his exe’s previous marriage. KD has three children from his marriage, all now grown up and away in many other parts of the world. The step son, the eldest, got married recently to a girl from his mother’s religious sect for which all the children had come to Pune.
After the marriage, all the children, with the new daughter in law, went to pay their respects to their maternal grandfather who has been catatonic for the past eight years in a hospital. When he became aware of the children, he opened his eyes and just asked one question to them – “Has K been saved?”. The children returned on Friday from their visit and reported to KD about this and KD went into a state of total rage and could not sleep.
This was followed by a dinner at KD’s place for the new bride’s family on Saturday during which, the family did not exactly endear themselves to KD with their frequent prayer and oft repeated “Praise The Lord!” during normal conversation. Before the meal started, the senior most of them asked permission from KD to pray and just to be polite, KD agreed. The dinner was no better with very solemn and silent eating at the end of which, permission to pray was again asked when KD who had had enough, said “No thank you.” The guests were aghast and quickly excused themselves and left.
KD stewed again the whole night and decided to come to his friend and confidante to share these two stories and to ask whether he needed to be saved? He cheered up quite a bit when I said, “yes, from these people”.
I have nothing against people holding on to their beliefs and practicing their religion to the best of their abilities. But surely, they should have the sensitivity to leave such behaviour aside on social occasions among people who either believe differently or do not believe at all?