I hear one version of you will be busy in the next few days attending to people gathered to pray en masse – people who believe that one month of abstinence from life’s basics will make them stronger of mind and body. The idea is not new (well, okay, you are god, so you probably invented it) and is followed by all faiths in some form or the other.
Some of us do not use a designated time to abstain. It does not lessen the commitment and worth of others who do. I also appreciate the celebrations at the end. It is a release, a sort of victory over oneself. You may think I have become cynical, but you know that if hope springs as eternally in anyone’s breast it is mine.
Will you walk with me to my childhood? I have written about some memories, but do you recall that time when I fasted one whole month? Everyone thought it was because I was promised a Sheaffer pen. I conveyed that. The fact was I was trying to understand you in my little childish way. I hated waking up for sehri and did not care much for iftaar – I remember the first day I plonked a date in my mouth and just before I could clamp my teeth over it, someone asked if I had offered any prayer. No. Wasn’t the whole day a prayer, a worship of my potential?
I mumbled something with my head covered (I looked nice with the white dupatta…oh, you know that). Then there would be fruits and some snacks and Rooh Afza. All these years I thought Rooh Afza was a patented Muslim thing, till just the other day someone – a non-Muslim - told me he had it as a kid and now his kids are drinking it.
That flimsy milky connection with my Muslimness went whoosh with that one sentence.
You must remember Ammi’s sheer khorma; it isn’t like any other. She kept it simmering for hours till it turned from white to cream and then almost the colour of deep sand at dawn. She did not overdo the garnishing and that was the beauty of it – its simplicity. It had body, no weight. It was rich without being flashy.
Isn’t that how we must live all year through?
God, you must be wondering why I am not calling you Allah or Khuda. I think you ought not to be confined.
The purpose of this note to you is to let you know that things are really bad.
- There are bomb blasts almost everyday
- People are killed even in relief camps
- There is a stampede almost everytime at some pilgrim site or the other
What are you doing about it? Don’t tell me to approach the police, the government. You tell me. Because most of these things happen using your name. Can’t you delete references to you in those email letters before blasts? You are god.
Can’t you make us see and accept that there are different people with different versions and we are all entitled to our views as long as we do not cause disruption and violence?
Can you not do something to ensure that those who go all the way to worship you at some place do not die only because they are pushing and shoving to get a glimpse of some manifestation of your being?
I read a report that says more people die in such stampedes than in bomb blasts. It does not reduce the tragedy in both cases. But it is ironical that one gets associated with your name whereas the other that is already associated with your name does not get much mileage.
You, god, are being sidelined.
This year some parts of India will celebrate Eid with black bands. It is to protest against the tragedies. I am not wearing a black band. I will have the sheer khorma, and yes it still has that smoky scent and I like it when some ash from the agarbatti falls in it. I take a spoonful right there when the fateha is offered.
I stand there and ask for nothing much. If I need to get something I will have to work for it, work at it. Usually, I am too lazy, so things happen and it becomes a happening. For that I thank you and the whole of creation.
Today, I will ask you something. What zakaat did you give this month? You should lead from the front.
Getting some people to wear black bands, to go quiet, will not solve the issue. It will in fact send out the wrong signals – that they have been silenced. I want you to make sure that the poor mohallas are lit up with candy floss pink parandis and parrot green bangles; I want to see them at the hawker’s carts pick up fake trinkets with their freshly-hennaed hands.
Don’t spoil it for them. They worship you, wherever they are, whichever version of you they pray to. Keep their faith intact. In you. And themselves.
Pardon the temerity, but I shall end with,
Haafiz Khuda tumhara…
Just one among many
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Results of earlier poll:
The unrest in Pakistan is due to:
America - 13 (72%), Al Qaeda - 5 (27%), Local tribal warfare - 4 (22%), Internal political one-upmanship - 3 (16%), RAW, India - 0 (0%)