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HARIJAI SINGH PART 4

The witnesses then moved

The witnesses then moved to Zaheer, the bridegroom, and told the “Qazi” (cleric) that Zarina had expressed her readiness for her “nikah” with Zaheer. The “Qazi” then recited the prescribed verse from the Quran in front of Zaheer, two witnesses and another person who played the role of a lawyer. “Qazi” asked Zaheer whether he was ready to accept Zarina as his wife. Zaheer, as per practice, said three times “yes, qabool hai, qabool hai, qabool hai”. The cleric then recited a “dua” (blessings) and the marriage was then solemnized. It was all over in 15 minutes. On completion of the “nikah”, small packets of dry fruits and sweets were distributed among those present. Thereafter, it was all gala celebration and dinner. I could see my father and his friends in dazzled silence. They must have been wondering what sort of Allah had gripped my Priya to become Zarina! I understand their dilemma. After being uprooted and educated in Nigeria and the US, life for me was a great experience, to be lived and believed. For me, there were no dotted lines to follow. I created my own dots and followed them. This is what the Vedas teach us to explore your own path to the Truth! I may be Zarina today for Zaheer’s family. But at heart I am still the same Priya, brought up by parents with certain values. 149

The same Priya attracted Zaheer towards me – not as a Muslim boy, but a forward-looking, modern and good human being. Besides, it was my academic road to evolve a better understanding between persons from different religious backgrounds. We can at least be decent human beings by inculcating the art of understanding, respect and tolerance towards other religious faiths. My “nikah” march from Priya to Zarina is just a small step in the service of the Almighty! At heart I am Priya. My blood group does not change with the change of name and religion. After the “nikah” at Saharanpur, the process of my familiarization with members of the family began. It was quite a large family. Quite a task to remember names and family labels as well as who is to be addressed as what – elder brother ‘bhaijaan’, elder sister ‘aapa’ or ‘baaji’, younger brother of Zaheer’s father ‘baray abbu’, father’s father ‘dada’ and so on. I faithfully showed my respect to the elders and smilingly greeted the youngsters. There was lots of warmth around. Enthusiasm was to be seen to be believed among the youngsters. Perhaps, it was special fascination for the Vilayat-- dollar dream land of America. For days together there were unending lunches and dinners hosted by close relations. In those lavish feasts, the sole problem was me being vegetarian. 150

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