Zeenat is my age, a girl in her 30’s. Society accepts her as the typical, small-town Indian girl. She works hard cleaning people’s houses so that she can provide for her family. But her deep dark eyes, outlined with heavy kohl, seem to reflect the layers of life’s sediments that turned her into a rock. People seem to turn into rocks when they are convinced that humanity does not offer any choices. After all, how can one find freedom in truth or in love when experience has reduced these realities to fictional clichés?
I was shocked when she told me that she has a nineteen-year-old son.
Me: But you are so young!
Zeenat: I got married at a very young age and my son was born when I was sixteen.
Me: Were you happy?
Zeenat: “Maa-baap ki kushi mein hi haamari khushi hai, didi” – Mama’s and Papa’s joy is my happiness.
She spoke with a resolve that left me speechless. I wanted to ask her about her husband, about marriage and about experiencing love and life. But a lump in my throat lead to a long, silent, deep breath as I felt like a complete idiot asking her about her happiness. She never traveled outside of her small town. She never experienced a ray of light that would suggest a different way of living and here I was questioning everything that she regarded as honorable, selfless, and right. A progressive, multi-cultural life is all I have ever known where globalization is essentially a privilege which points to an international arena where we can find what the world offers us. But this selfish view centers around egocentric manipulation rather than positive transformation. Everything remains empty without love!One person, and one conversation hardly ever point to a huge success story. But these instances allow opportunities for necessary reflections and thoughtful actions. Individuals such as Zeenat stand as reminders that without reflection, the true picture of what is going on inside each of us is seldom communicated adequately or correctly. The Skipping Stone is a company that acknowledges that each individual is a by-product of a complex background. As we learn, hopefully, we attempt to understand socio-cultural and economic conditions in ways that enable us to look beyond a set of personal assumptions. The ultimate example of love embodied in the life of Christ Jesus convicts me to suspend judgments and allow room for curiosity to be motived by a desire to feel genuine empathy towards people across cultural boundaries. When we listen to others, we can find fragments of truth in the people we encounter. But before truth can break through a rock, the ones we refer to as they and them – they need to feel understood, respected, involved and motivated to grow so we can be us.