Shashi Tharoor was born in 1956 and grew
up in Bombay and Kolkata. He is the author of The Great Indian
Novel, Show Business and a collection of stories, The
Five Dollar Smile. He even wrote a non fiction book From
Midnight to Millennium. His latest work is a novel titled Riot:
A Novel. He lives in New York and works for the United Nations
-Riot: A Novel
From Priscilla Hart's Scrapbook
July 16, 1989
Learned something interesting about the Hindu god Ram, the one all fuss
about these days. Seems that when he brought his wife Sita back from Lanka
and became king, the gossips in the kingdom were whispering that after so
many months in Ravana's captivity, she could not possibly be chaste anymore.
So to stop the tongues wagging, he subjected her to an agni-pariksha,
a public ordeal by fire, to prove her innocent. She walked through the
flames unscathed. A certified pure woman.
That stopped the gossips for a while, but before long the old rumours
surfaced again. It was beginning to affect Ram's credibility as king. So he
spoke to her about it. What could she do? She willed the earth to open up,
literally, and swallowed her. That was the end of the gossip. Ram lost the
woman he had warred win back, but he ruled on as a wise and beloved king.
What the hell does this say about India? Appearances are more important than
truths. Gossip is more potent than facts. Loyalty is all one way, from the
woman to the man. And when society stacks up all the odds against a woman,
she'd better not count on the man's support. She has no way out than to end
her own life.
And I'm in love with an Indian. I must be crazy.