It was the sunny bright morning in August when I went to Faraja Cancer Care, Kenya on an invitation that was extended to most friends of Faraja that included volunteers, therapists and a few others. The occasion was of a celebration of one of Volunteer’s joyous moments of life as she had recently entered the marital bliss.
I got to meet a few new faces among the many known ones. Pleasantries were exchanged and I came across a volunteer, Roshni* who visits the Hospital once a week. Upon asking Roshni mentioned that she simply came to talk to one patient each week (a different one each time) at the Chemotherapy unit. Then she mentioned that she was a Christian and spoke to the patients about her life had changed being a Christian.
I shouldn’t have been alarmed at that, but, I was. She probably comes with a very good intention to counsel the patients being a Cancer survivor herself. Such counseling definitely gives immense moral strength to the patients and getting comforting support besides the treatment from a survivor enhances their faith.
I was curious as to her name being a Hindu name despite being a Christian and she too thought I would be a Christian as my name would suggest. Mine was simply an awkward situation as I was named Monica without my choice. I have craved to be called as Radha or Meera all my life. Radha and Meera both were ardent devotees in love with Krishna and I am in love with Bhagwan(God) too.
Getting back to Roshni, she gave me her story as this : Roshni a Hindu by birth was happily married and a mother of two daughters. The family was once going through financial constraints and it had become challenging for this foursome to survive. They were losing their balance and had lost all hope. Roshni and her husband Raj* considered ending their lives by committing suicide and started building up courage to do so.
It was at this desperate time when Roshni happened to come across Sheny a fashion designer. Roshni had once wanted to be a fashion designer hence her attraction towards Sheny developed into a friendship and she supported Roshni with her passion of becoming a designer. Gradually Roshni got pulled into Sheny’s charm and decided to convert into Christianity.
I asked Roshni if she was happier being a Born again Christian as she spoke about herself. I was curious about the reasons behind her conversion.
She mentioned she was happier now than before as being a Hindu she didn’t have a son and had two daughters. However, she claimed that after she converted, she conceived once again despite being on contraceptives and gave birth to a son. According to her an astrologer had once told her that she didn’t have a son in her destiny and that was her first reason for discord to Hinduism. In my mind I thought about the few Christian families that I knew had only daughters and wondered why they didn’t have sons.
My next question directed towards her was whether the Cancer that she survived was diagnosed before or after the conversion. She admitted that it was diagnosed few years after her being Born Again. Before I could question further, she went on to defend her faith by saying she knew God had given her Cancer so that she could survive it and talk to patients about it. She had no answer to give when I further asked her if her previous poverty was also given by God for her to earn finances and support others later. Surely poverty is not only the regime of Hindus and anyone could be affected by it.
I could now see her agitation as she went on in her convincing talk about defending her conversion. She asked me if anyone could worship a God that could be purchased from the stores. She obviously meant the Murtis ( statues of idols) that find place in each Hindu household and organization. To that question I counter questioned if the Christians bought the Cross and she said they don’t.
Not having much knowledge about that I didn’t argue over it but I know the Crosses are manufactured by humans and are being sold to individuals and to religious organizations. I didn’t find her response very honest but since I am unable to prove it, I let it go.
Roshni further added that the Hindus had too many Gods where as Christians had One God – that is Jesus – The Son of MAN ( these are her exact words). I asked her to explain to me the reason behind her statement and she went into defensive once again. She said it is mentioned in the Bible. Now it was my turn to defend my religion. This was getting interesting for both of us. I said God is all one and the Hindu Devis and Devtas ( avatars of God) are manifestations of that ONE. As per our Hindu faith God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient hence we are all forms of HIM.
She repeated that Bible says Jesus is Son of God, son of Man and he is our saviour. I had no reason to contradict that so continued listening. Then she added that Jesus sacrificed himself for us. I asked her what she meant by that. She said it was mentioned in the Bible. Then she asked me if the Hindu Holy Book Geeta said something similar.
I was honest with her that I haven’t read the Bible but she had been a Hindu once so she must be familiar with the Bhagwat Geeta. To that she said, she had never read the Geeta. To this my response was that of getting amused. I was faced with a person who had condemned one religion for another without having understood her original religion.
What do you call that person who hasn’t checked his/her own pocket for the sweets knowing pretty well that his/her pocket is full of them but goes on to ask others for the sweets and consumes them. It is a chosen form of deceptive ignorance. Roshni was a case of deceptive ignorance. I have nothing against any religion in the world and respect Christianity to the limit I have understood it. But, I respect Hinduism even more as I have understood it more than any other religion in the world. It is the basis of my existence.
I cannot condemn anyone for converting Roshni, neither do I have the right to condemn Roshni for having converted. I am condemning the easy going attitude that we are rapidly adopting towards our religion and religious knowledge in today’s times. When one doesn’t have a firm background knowledge and understanding one’s rich culture and runs after other cultures that person is no better than a Beggar. This word might sound harsh but that is what I perceive such a person to be.
* Roshni = is not the real name. The real name is changed for privacy reasons.
*Raj = is not the real name. The real name is changed for privacy reasons.
Sheny = an imaginary name as I didn’t ask the name of the friend.