Certain Universal Truths

Our driver today, Naruka would take us from Jaipur to Delhi. Finally, air conditioning and a comfortable ride. As we passed the chickens, and the dogs, the cows and the camels, Naruka told us of the power in India: men: 100%, women, 50%. “In India it is common in the Hindu religion for the man to have a wife and also have a girlfriend.” While I had heard this before, and in what culture is this not a part, I wanted to hear more from a true Indian first hand.
“Is this the case for you?” I asked. He smiled, glancing out his window, then back to me. “Well, uh, yes.” I was eager for more and prompted his words with precision accuracy.

He continued to tell me the whole story. He had married his wife in 1979. His mother had chosen her for him. He didn’t meet her until the wedding day, and he had told his mother, “If she is blind or handicapped, I am running the other way.” I said, “And, did she choose well for you?” “Yes, she chose well for me. In July, it will be 32 years of marriage. Two sons and two daughters, all with children now. We chose their partners for them too, but they were able to at least meet and get to know them first, prior to their weddings.” This seemed like such a foreign concept for me but then I thought of my mom, and how she cherished me and had sacrificed so much for me in her lifetime; of course she would have chosen a very suitable partner. After all, who would know me better than my mom?

Naruka continued on, “Hindi has 4 casts, the priests, the soldiers, the business people, and the sutra (untouchables). I was born into the second cast and had to leave school after grade 5 to start working in order to help my mom with the house, because my dad got into trouble with the drinking and the gambling.” I paused and thought about certain universal truths.

He continued telling me about his jobs, selling nuts, and candy, then working in a movie theater, then finally becoming a rickshaw owner. “At first, I worked hard as a rickshaw owner, then I got a couple of really good clients, who helped me to buy my first car. After I bought that car, business was very good and I was taking tourists everywhere in India, so I thought maybe I would buy a second car. Now, I have 4 cars and my boys work for me.”

While this part of the story was very interesting, I re-focused him again, continuing to be mostly fascinated by his affair, and the fact that he was telling me about it so openly. How can one not be interested in such a true Indian soap opera? I prompted him, “So, your wife knows about your mistress?” My two friends, sitting quietly, listening to the chatter, swallowed and awaited his reply, “Well, yes, she does. She didn’t at first, until photos arrived at my house from her. That one was tough to explain.” We all laughed. Yes, rule number one: No photos please. I prodded, “And how did she take it?” He smiled, and opened and closed his hand repeatedly, as though a puppet was barking orders at him, “Well, for 3 years it was pretty difficult, but now, it is good. She is coming to visit me next month and will stay at our house. All of the kids know about her and have accepted her as well. She lives in France and actually divorced her husband in order to be with me. I told her that I cannot divorce. In my cast, you simply do not divorce. I would have been killed by my wife’s family.” He smiled, and laughed a little, and I was not totally convinced whether he was joking or not.

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One Response to Certain Universal Truths

  1. Ally says:

    Well this is fascinating, I can’t imagine allowing my husbands girlfriend to come to stay with my family! And is she allowed a boyfriend? I should imagine not. Hardly seems fair!

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