By Ruth Madison
Copyright 2011 by Ruth Madison
Sumitra knew what her parents were going to ask the guru. She was turning twenty-nine in two month's time and they were beyond desperate to get her married. She went along to try to be a good daughter, but in her heart she knew she could never be happy with the men her parents found and finding one on her own was close to impossible. There was one very specific thing she needed in a man and she could never tell anyone about it.
She sat in between her parents on the hard tile floor of the ashram waiting for the guru to arrive. She had to admit it was a beautiful building. Two large open doorways and paneless windows across the length of the walls allowed the mild Indian breeze in and Sumitra could see a cluster of coconut trees that instantly made her feel like she was on vacation. There were no coconut trees at home in New York.
The guru's seat was gold, carved to look like the sun. Beside it were tall, black marble mutris of gods. There were about fifty other people sitting cross legged around the floor. They all seemed to be authentic Indians, unlike Sumitra. She was what people back home called a coconut: brown on the outside and white on the inside. She could fake Indian for a little while, but her American roots quickly showed. Her mother had to dress her to come here today. Sumitra didn't have a clue how to put on a sari and no other dress was allowed. Her pudgy old dad was even wearing a full-on dhoti.
People seemed really sincere. Several were prostrating themselves in front of the murtis. Most had trays in front of them ladened with fruit and flowers to offer the guru, in return for his blessings, of course. Sumitra's mother had already been eyeing the other trays to make sure that theirs was the most impressive.