Education vs Reason

“I do not want to eat this, what is laid on the table!” her voice was harsh and petulant. I looked aghast. “But, why? This dinner is held in your honor and I have ensured at most hygiene and care.” She ignored my words and continued, “This has been made by your cook, is it not? I observed that she does not belong to our community and I do not eat food prepared by such. I know you invited me especially and so, will take a glass of milk.”

I looked on as she sipped on the milk and instructed her daughter-in-law to eat what she wanted.” “I do not impose any restrictions on her. She is a glutton, my daughter in law! Loves food and spends half of my son’s salary on cosmetics and junk food.” I saw the hurt look on the young girl’s face and the way she forced herself to smile. The duo left soon after, the clouded face of the young girl stayed in my mind long after their departure.

“She is a bully and a jealous woman, ill-treats servants and the newly-wed daughter in law. Follows a narrow system of segregation of people and subscribes to a lot of superstitions. Of course, she makes a big scene of being a god-fearing and a gentle lady but that is a sham.” I had often heard about this lady but came to experience that night at the dinner party hosted to congratulate her on winning an award for entrepreneurship. I was amazed at how such an educated and successful lady could have such a negative side to her personality.

The cook brought her daughter in law to work a few days after this incident. The girl, whom I had only heard of, was exceedingly thin and emaciated. “She has been brought up amongst utter poverty. Her mother, a widow has single handedly brought up a brood of children. She has gained weight after she came into our family!” The cook’s affectionate words brought back memories of the pompous lady and made me search for a sign of sarcasm. Finding the girl alone for a few minutes, I asked her how her in-laws were. Her eyes lit up. “I am so happy, akka. My mom doesn’t even call to find out how I am, but my MIL takes care that I eat wholesome food. Yesterday, the strap of my slipper gave away and she offered me her sandals so that I do not walk barefoot on the road. My brother in law, a cantankerous guy tried to boss over me in the initial days of marriage but my MIL told him strictly that he should be respectful to the elder daughter in law.”

I congratulated the cook heartily. “Akka, we are uneducated, illiterate and simple people. She is our Lakshmi and the light of our home. I do not know any other way of treating a daughter”. I was dumbfounded.

Buddha’s words echoed in my mind “By whomsoever no evil is done in deed, or word, or thought, him I call a Brahmin (holy man) who is guarded in these three.”

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