Chapter 2 -Religion and Region

It was the day, I have visited the Lotus temple, the Bahai's House of Worship in New Delhi. This Architectural wonder was not like any other temple. Based on the Bahai community's faith and principles, this temple dedicated itself to Peace and Serene environment. Everyone was allowed regardless of their religion. Conceptualization of the Lotus temple is all about believing in every community, race, caste, creed, and religion. They also believe that every religion preaches the same and Gods identities are also the same but the appearances are different.

It was a peaceful place altogether inside where any person could enter and pray there peacefully to their own believed God. They never forced to follow the Bahai way of Worship. Because, they follow the faith, not the procedure. I have got connected to that point and it was such an alleviation to step inside after beating hot sun that day. It was pacifying to pray inside the auditorium of Lotus temple.

I have dialed Sheikh Hanna to fix the time and location of the meeting. And I felt amiable when he mentioned that he wanted to come with his girlfriend. I was all right with that and agreed to meet them in Taj Cafe, Lajpat Nagar, Delhi. I have never explored that place. I told him that I would be there at the place at 8 pm. After meeting my Delhi buddies and writing a few articles in my favorite cafe, I have headed towards the place in Metro. I have reached the location, but I couldn't be able to find it. I have called him after getting frustrated asking people about the location because no local person over there was aware of the cafe. After a few minutes, Hanna appeared in front of me. But he came alone. I was a little disappointed at first. I have asked him about his girlfriend. Feeling discontented, he said his girlfriend had to leave for her home to take care of her 7-year old sister, who was the youngest one in the typical Muslim family.

We were trying to reach the place but couldn't be able to find the location. Screw, Delhi's narrow streets, and faulty google maps. We were running late. I have agreed to step in one of those Cafe Coffee Day (the franchise, which is booming like mushrooms everywhere). We got in and ordered our drinks. As I was following Veganism, I had a Double shot Vegan Coffee and he ordered Fruitilicious Mango frappe. The environment was very calm. Hence I have questioned him about his comfort levels in talking about him. He said confidently that he was fine talking about him aloud. I could see some improvement in him and his behavior. I was glad realizing about it.

After getting seated comfortably, I have mentioned my disappointment in not meeting his girlfriend as I wanted to hear about their love story together. He felt sorry about it and explained that there were a few issues at her home. I understood and I have carried on with the work that I approached for. Being desperate to know about the untold struggling story of a Trans person, I have made myself ready to hear the deepest and darkest secrets of this pair. But a question has popped up in my mind and made me anxious to ask Hannah. My question was how come a 23- year -old girl was having a 7- year- old sister. It was quite a long gap. My issues with age, made me spill the question. I regretted asking that question. But Hannah came up with a story behind it.

Tabassum belongs to an Islamic family where her father was a rag picker and the mother has forcefully given birth to 5 daughters, as they have waited for a boy child. Listening to that I was shocked. It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Her father used to dead beat her mother every single time she gave birth to a girl child. I have listened to these stories in the news and movies but never came across the real one. I ought to believe those stories then. It was a devastating situation for a mother to give birth too many times. Biologically, it is dangerous too. But, expecting a boy child to expand the family tree further was such a ridiculous idea in the 21st century.  Her father lost his human values and treated his loving wife like a bondslave. And it's quite common in India, especially in villages and places where there is a lot of population residing in one place, possibly called slums. Tabassum came from a socially and financially, low profiled family, which lack family values. Well, the family head is responsible for family values. She came from a family tree where women were treated badly. They were just destined only for preparing food and providing bodily pleasures. It was the sheer cold-blooded scenario in Nizamuddin, Delhi. Tabassum was from proper Delhi, where people reside in small spaces and lead their livelihood on their own rules. Boys from here only find fun in eve-teasing girls every single day. Many molestation stories have hidden in each corner of the houses here. But Hanna shared one. That was about Tabassum, the name that describes a Smile, which she never lost no matter what has happened to her life.

Ibrahim, the cousin brother of Tabassum's father, who himself a father figure to her, once saw her while she was changing her dress through a peephole of her home. The houses were so tiny and cozy, where many ruthless snakes could hide in any corner. Ibrahim was literally like a snake in her story. A Manipulative, cunning and ignorant person whose mind was filled with full of the male ego. After watching for a long time, his bad eye went on enticing Tabassum under the name of Love. Many abnormal things are happening in this world under the name of Love. Because people hardly know about love. They just misunderstand it for infatuation and bodily pleasures. In this materialistic world, people approach to get into each other physically but not emotionally. One rough day, the snake in her life was eyeing on her to attack silently. Ibrahim used to gush into the home silently and used to touch her inappropriately. Tabassum denied him to do that, but being her father figure, he forcefully insisted her not to share the incidents which happened between them with anyone. That poor girl has buried the facts inside of her soul. But he didn't stop visiting her. He molested her every single time by saying lovable words like sugar coats on a broken piece. Tabassum mistook it as love and she started enjoying his presence in the absence of her parents and sisters. She started cherishing both physical and emotional moments happened between them. She has mistaken and mistrusted. Slowly, the flavor of fake-love has been vanishing between them since she denied to get physical with him. He stopped visiting her home and started ignoring her completely. Broken soul of Tabassum was still waiting for him. She had hopes that he would turn up one day. He did, but he denied the fact of love and threw her into thorns. Tabassum was sort of slipped into depression and started hating men and came to an opinion that every man discerns a woman only in a sexual manner. Her situations in and around her homemade her strongly believe that men only use women for bodily pleasures. She lost her hope in the word called Love.

Where in the south side of India, In Bangalore, there lived a family whose ancestors were Mughals. Claiming to have birth roots from Aurangzeb's first son's, third daughter's generation,  this family could afford a luxurious lifestyle. Hanna hails from this family, the only daughter to her parents shared her home with her two elder brothers, Fareed and Farook. Being from an Islamic family in South India, Hanna's family members were conservative. Hanna believes in Islam and an ardent reader of the Holy Quran. Hanna was an enthusiast, inquisitive, and tough. Unlike other girls around her neighborhood, Hanna was a bit different. Being a girl in a Muslim family, she had to lead her lifestyle under strict environment because everyone in the family was elder to her. Hanna established a good companionship with her mother and used to treat her as a good friend. She used to share every single issue that gives joy and also that irks her. Realizing her sexual orientation is the one that irked her most. Her Eldest brother and her mom were the biggest support system in her home.

She has encountered too many struggles in her life and came across most unpredictable situations in her life. Some were Path-breaking and some were Path- making. Knowing about her sexual orientation was the most interesting childhood story of hers. Her childhood and adolescence were tumultuous and difficult. Her puberty stage was tough. Her initial 20's were torturous. Her Current 20's are sort of settling right now. In a brief, she has seen a lot of downs than ups in her life. Her educational career was only her Up it seemed. Graduated in Psychology, Journalism, and Literature, back then, she was the topper of the University of Bangalore. She proudly said that no one till date has beaten her score. She stood 6th and 25th in her University grade and National exams and got selected out of millions of students who appeared for those exams. She was an intelligent, brave girl who got suppressed and restrained. But the society has transformed her into a timid and hopeless human after she broke her closet doors.

Different regions, but the same religion, these two souls were facing two types of struggles. Regions are the places where we roam, they are stable and fix to the matter of fact, but religion is a belief which is something spread over regions. Regions are visible, but religion is an invisible faith. Islamic rules are sort of restricted for a girl. Mohammad, the Prophet has stated not to treat women like a slave, because she is the treasure of life who must be protected with care. People who follow religion would know this simple fact. But under the name of Religion, people are diluting the holy phrases with unnecessary clauses like restricting women to bed and food. These two girls were facing different situations, but the pain was the same. Family restrictions and situations made them feel suffocated and threw them in hopeless situations. But they didn't have any idea, that these two girls were going to be each other's ray of hope.

Listening to these two different situations about two regions, but one religion, I have slipped myself into the visit of Lotus temple, that morning. Religion and religious faiths were portrayed and depicted so beautifully so that anyone can enter the heart of the temple and pray. I think people's hearts should be like the lotus. It blooms out from a muddy pond but looks so beautiful with its pretty petals. The principles what Lotus temple is spreading to the world are getting contradicted by these religious heads and people who blindly follow the religious customs but not the principles.

Neither the Religion nor the Region has connected Tabassum and Hanna. Only the underneath hope which was in their souls during their hopeless situations has made them get into each other.

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