She was 12 years old.
It was summer holidays.
She was watching television.
She was wearing western clothes.
She was told to change to traditional attire.
A priest was paying them a visit.
The priest was an old man.
He made her nervous.
She was annoyed.
It was holidays.
She did not want to listen to an old man.
He made her recite shlokas*.
It made her feel like in an exam.
He checked her pronunciation.
She knew a mistake would land her in trouble.
She was made to seek his blessings.
They told her to do a panchanga namaskar*.
The priest noticed that she did it wrong.
He made a snide remark about the mistake.
She lifted her hands off the ground first.
She was supposed to lift her knees first.
The priest left.
They scolded her.
She had made a mistake.
She had shamed them in front of the priest.
She could not even do a namaskar properly.
The priest would think her family did not raise her well.
That they did not teach her their traditions and caste rituals.
They made her feel guilty and ashamed.
They made her do it again and again till she got it right.
Knees first or hands first. What the hell does it matter?
What are you doing because you are supposed to do it and because that is what is done in your culture/family/society, even though it does not make sense, even though it does not bring you joy, even though it is detrimental to you?Note: A shloka is a prayer or portion of a scripture used as prayer in Sanskrit. A panchanga namaskar is a way of prostrating for females. Pancha means five and anga means body parts. 5 parts of the female’s body touch the ground, as follow: head, 2 hands, 2 knees.