Our ‘Love & Mercy’ Special Issue is in front of you. It is a testament to the immensity of the emotion of love, one that is sorely lacking in the unstable and rather gloomy environment that surrounds us. In an atmosphere of commercialization of love and the banality of setting aside only one day to celebrate it, we need to think about the deeper meaning behind it. Through this issue, we have explored the institution of marriage and its various aspects – right from the process of ‘match-making’ to the everyday joys and sorrows of marital life; from the political debates around age of marriage to the social influences on it, good and bad. More than just an issue, we hope this will be a resource and gift for newly married and yet to be married couples who are looking for some answers to the many questions and confusions that the process inevitably brings. As one of our contributors writes, the verse of the Holy Qur’an, “…and we created you in pairs”, has more or less become a mere embellishment on marriage invitations and decorations, but if one were to ponder upon it, it is essentially a promise and reassurance from our Creator of a lifetime of happiness and companionship – if only if we are ready to sustain this fragile human relationship.
But other dark clouds also hover above us as we enter the month of February. Only last month did the app ‘Bulli Bai’ make an appearance and its fall out has been vast; revealing an underbelly of radicalization and social rot unparalleled. While the country’s economy lies in doldrums, the COVID pandemic continues its march with the new variant, Omicron, and other developmental markers such as hunger, education and safety reach an all-time low, it is a pathetic reality that Muslim women have become consistent targets of an ecosystem of hatred and a silent majority that has chosen to witness this degradation on the fence.
As ‘witnesses unto mankind’ whose job it is to not only observe but change the course of history, it is our job to speak truth to power and ensure that justice is a daily act that is delivered to the oppressed and silenced. Elections are in the air, and it is as always, a time when communal polarization is worsened and increased to reap votes. We must be aware and watch out to ensure this process is not repeated. Media houses too have become part and parcel of fanning hatred. The month of February marks 20 years of the beginning of the Gujarat pogrom, the flames of which still haunt the memories of many of its survivors. The coming months and years will tell if the course of Indian democracy is shaped in a positive manner, or by lessons not learnt.