WHEN LOVE TRUMPED RELIGION
Monica Singh and Mustafa Nouri met while studying in the US. “I was 18 and Mustafa, who’s family is from Afghanistan, was 20. When I brought him home, the response was not positive. My mother comes from an orthodox Brahmin family, and my father is a Sikh who went through Partition, so religion was a problem,” says Monica. The couple is now married for 22 years, are parents to two teenagers and have shifted base to India. How did they overcome the struggle? With the help of Monica’s uncle, activist Swami Agnivesh, “My sister said, “Never!” He is a Muslim, my daughter can’t stay with him. I told her, call him home for tea. Well, they ended up calling him multiple times, and fell in love with the boy! Truth, love, compassion and justice —these universal values are above everything else,” says Swami ji. For Mustafa, it takes more than love. “There was never a moment when I had misgivings about my decision to marry Monica. It is compatibility in thoughts and outlook that matters. Religious difference was of little significance for us,” he says. “Once you take off the stereotype, you realise that a person is a person! I go to the gurudwara, I have a little mandir at home, and, when it’s Eid, my husband likes to take the kids to the mosque. Mutual respect is the key,” says Monica.