There are so, so many things that are difficult about raising a kid–it’s more than snuggles and reading, more than copious numbers of demon stink-filled diapers (thank goodness). The hardest part for me, I think (aside from sleep-deprivation, that is), is that while I’m helping Mir discover who he is, I’m still not sure of who I am. Some time ago, I wrote about trying to figure out our Indianness for The NRI–and my worries about cultural misappropriation.
I grew up in a Muslim-Catholic household. We celebrate Easter, Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, and Ramadan (though only my father fasts). At Christmas, my parents literally deck their halls–tinsel and ornaments overrun the house, half a dozen animatronic Santas carol in the living room, and a Christmas train chugs through a snowy wonderland on the dining room table. We’re a marvelously mixed-up family, and I love it. But my father’s family, the Indian side, has only two Hindus, both of whom married into the family. Our Indianness is a Muslim-Indianness; I have little knowledge of Hinduism beyond recognizing pictures and statuary of Kali, Shiva, Ganesh, Krishna, and Brahma.
Hindu Gods do hold a certain fascination for me. I’ve always been interested in polytheistic religions, and I’ve read widely about the Greek, Roman, and Norse traditions. I’ve read many myths to Mir; we even have a few mythology picture books. But Hinduism is a living religion. If I read stories about Krishna to Mir, am I simply reading him a story, or am I stealing someone else’s belief system…