He held the little white marble statue in his hands. Did he just imagine it or did the Buddha really seem enlightened? He smiled and put the statue back on the bookshelf, from where he had picked it up. He let his eyes run along the spines of the numerous books stacked up in the shelf. My my, she did read a lot, he thought to himself.

He caught sight of a leather bound edition of the Mahabharatha, the golden letters shimmering in the light. With a questioning look on his face, he pulled it out and turned to the page that was bookmarked. He read out the first few lines aloud –

Na vaasudeva bhaktanaam ashubham vidyate kwachit |
Janmamrityujaravyadhi bhayam naivopajaayathe ||

He remembered the words from his grandmother’s shlokam recitals every evening. He’d always liked that verse, it made him feel protected and safe.

“Do you know what it means?”

He turned sharply at the voice behind him. He didn’t know how long she’d been standing there watching him. His expression might’ve been bordering on what a monkey would lookΒ like with it’s hand in the cookie jar, for she laughed. Damn, she was beautiful. And he was so utterly smitten.

“No, I don’t know what this means.”, he lied.

“Hmmm..so now you’re testing me on my knowledge, eh? You do realize you’re bad at lying?”

“C’mon! Tell me what it means. I’d love to hear a non-Hindu’s version of the Mahabharatha.”

“Ok..lemme show you what it means.”

She came to the bookshelf and pulled out another leather bound book. She appeared very familiar with the book for she went straight to the end, without bothering with the Contents or the Index. She found what she was looking for, and she handed the book to him pointing out the lines she had in mind.

He found himself holding a Bible.

“So the Bible has translations of the Mahabharatha? Wow, I did not see this coming!”

“Ok, stop being sarcastic andΒ read the 4th verse in Chapter 21, will you?”

He sighed deeply, and read, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

He read the lines to himself again, and let the meaning sink in. And he looked up to see her smiling, smug in the realization that she just went one up on him.

“Great! WhenΒ I try to convince my highly orthodox parents to let me marry a Roman Catholic girl like you, I should probably lead with this.”, he said, hugging her.