I may be Episcopalian but I have a soft spot for Lord Ganesh. I like the idea that a gentle elephant god should be Remover of Obstacles. He’s a good problem-solver, too: when charged with circling the universe, he walked around his parents, saying they were all his worlds.
One morning, after fifteen years of marriage, I opened the first gift my mother-in-law had ever given me. I tore into the package - hope over experience, I guess. I drew out the long gold chain from a carved teak box, and uttered a sound like speech, but wasn’t. My husband said, “Mother melted down her marriage bangles to have this necklace made for you.” Her blessing, hard won but fully given.
For years I had been considered an interloper, taking what did not belong to me. Family members not yet born at the time of the family shame absorbed it, and confronted my husband and me with it years later. “Chitti will never accept!” a niece only recently informed me. Memes perpetuate.
My head was suddenly filled with the noise of cultures clashing, and the gold links weighted with family history began to slide from my hand. It was then that I saw the tiny vermillion Ganesh tangled in the metal. A mantra moved through my brain: Vakrathunda Mahaakaaya Suryakoti Samaprabha Nirvignam Gurumaydeva Sarvakaryeshu Sarvada.
Obstacles removed, I slipped the necklace over my head, and kissed it like a Catholic.