Was on a Sunday shopping for the groceries and vegetable. And as I was moving around looking at the beautiful and multicoloured carts of the vegetable vendor’s, filled to the brim with colourful vegetables, something different passed through my field of vision. Rather a couple, the guy was north-east Indian and girl looked like she was most probably from south. A beautiful, dark complexioned, young lady with soulful eyes and long flowing hair, dressed in jeans and long sleeved tee shirt moving around with a fair complexioned, youthful, north-east Indian guy in knee length short and tee shirt. Looked quite a couple, totally enamoured with each other and oblivious of the world around them. They were also shopping for vegetables and moved about from cart to cart trying to get the best ones.

But the world was far from oblivious to them, it had rather taken notice. And noticed it had. There were quite a few glances at them, some envious, some appreciative but most were smirks.

Took me a bit long to realise. But then I realised the smirks and disapproving glances were mostly from the middle aged and elderly people in the crowd. This was a inter-caste, interstate, interracial and most probably an inter-religious couple. A huge huge taboo in India.

In a country where matrimonial bonds are not solemnised even between people belonging to the same state, same religion or same language. Not even between two people studying in same school or same college or residing in the same area. Inter-religious marriage is a big jump quite unthinkable. Marriages are solemnised only between people of the same caste. And between people of a pure bloodline. Confirmed through an elaborate exercise before the marriage is finalised.

And this inter-religious, inter-racial, inter-state, inter-caste couple was causally sauntering around the market place oblivious to the mental trauma they were causing, to the people around them. In more dramatic words, I could call it psychological abuse of the citizens looking at their exasperated and shocked faces.

Well a so called progressive country, providing the best of the brains to the western world especially the US, the spiritual guru of the world and a growing economic power, but it is so narrow and parochial in day to day life.

Forget about being a superpower we can’t even pass the definition of a nation because we are made of hundreds of small islands or pockets of people who don’t deal with each other socially. These hundreds of pockets are distinct Nations defined by clear cut boundaries. They never intersect or inter-react with each other. We have to accept that we are a deeply divided society. And will always be on the threshold of greatness. Never able to enter the greatness zone, unless we understand the problem and work towards rectifying it. Only when we unite as a society, by uniting these islands, can we call ourselves a society and a nation. Greatness will then follow automatically.

Jai Hind