Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where Do I Stand??

This is in response to a letter by Mr. K R Handa of Delhi titled The Face of Islam? in the 27th September 2008 edition of Tehelka.

I don’t remember for how long I cursed Shoaib Akhtar for bowling Tendulkar out just after Dravid or how many times I’ve had a fight with my grandfather for favoring Pakistan over India. I was taught Urdu before English or Hindi. I read the Qur’an when most boys my age can’t speak properly. That I can’t write four lines correctly in Urdu anymore, the language in which my paternal uncle and aunt hold PhD’s and my father won a gold medal in graduation is another story.
I was not sent to a Maddarsa, instead a Convent school. That I haven’t had a single Muslim friend all my school life and now college can be just a coincidence. That I find it difficult to raise my hands and say my daily prayers on a cheroot five times a day can be because of my floundering faith. My entire family says their prayers five times a day and my father does so in a mosque. He is a practicing lawyer. That I’m unable to do most things correctly might be a sign of weakness. That I was born an Indian Muslim might be another coincidence or God’s will. But the fact that I’m an astute Indian first and then anything else is not a coincidence.
My paternal uncle migrated to Pakistan in the late seventies. That he is still an Indian at heart is not a coincidence. He says some of the best years of his life were spent on this land. That I’m unable to connect to him in any way is quite obvious.
I remember three boys in school licking the same ice-cream. One Bengali (on his one call I gave my blood to someone I didn’t know), one Thakur and one Muslim. Taking a bite from a single samosa, drooling over the same girls, discussing problems and pleasure with equal ease, in arms. The boys that I’ve just mentioned are my friends and I know that they will face any difficulty which comes my way.
I also remember growing up in an anti-Indian neighborhood of Allahabad where I used to have agitated discussions with boys, some my age and most old enough to be my uncle, (who were deprived of proper education or the power of reasoning) after an India-Pakistan cricket match more so in their dialect than mine.
I remember going to watch the Jhanki, in Dussehra, on my uncle’s friends’ shoulder who is a Hindu. I remember his sister washing my pants after I’ve pissed in them unconsciously. I was moved to tears when I saw Jesus’ body torn to pieces in the papers by some activists and can’t forget my sisters’ state of shock (she too is a convent student).
I remember a Muslim senior of mine unable to recite Vande Mataram and my inability to figure him out. (It happens to be one of my all time favorites). And I’m also unable to understand why none of my community’s esteemed clerics ever come up to condemn a heinous act committed by my fellow brethren or show their grief over those departed.
In the 22 years of my life I have never been oppressed or looked down upon because of being a Muslim by any person belonging to any caste. I might have issues with the manner in which this country is run, or its judiciary, or the law and order situation, but “all Indians are my brothers and sisters” is the line which I take more seriously than anything else.
I know two dozen cousins, fifty college mates, a hundred schoolmates and other Muslim minds who think the way I do about this country and its people.
Even if I’m hanged on the gallows, burnt to ashes, pelted to trickles, by the likes of thousands of Handas, every single drop of blood in me with all its vigor will chant in unison that I’m a son of this soil.
I will not marry a Hindu, Muslim or Christian but an Indian. I would like my children to be Indians first and then Hindu, Muslim or whatever they want to be.
I want my epitaph to say “therein lays an Indian writer who made Indian proud”.
This is the testimony of thousands of Ahmad Razas who walk on this soil ready to mortgage their bodies, souls or any other possession to prove their love for this country.


Anonymous said...

Raza bhai of the Best articles i have come across over the year..
I would wish every "Indian" reads this..
I request you to mail the above to Times Life@Sunday Times(TOI).. Not for publicity purpose..But i want every indian to read this..

By the way I just mailed ur Blog to 30 Odd ppl...



Devil's View.... said...

a nice post...!!!:)

Anonymous said...

An excellent article dropped on my blog by Rohit...

I am glad he did.

You should write more often!

AmiDA said...

gave me goosebumps, your post!

ojaswita said...

it is quite heart touching raza...i wish every indian must have the same in his mind n u!!....grt work..!!