Smile returns and smaller pleasures if life

Life is about the smaller pleasures. If there is something important to learn it is the art of identifying and appreciating at the small pleasures of life. 

As I write this I think about if everyone has the access to small pleasures but then maybe everyone does not have and it is just my privilege. But i would like to think that everyone has.

My friend Ismail has just come back from his hitchhiking trip. We were travelling together earlier, I’m glad to meet him and listen to his stories. Also I am feeling lighter. I think travelling gives you good energy which makes problem around you happy. That is what I think. 

This also reminds me that I’ve been meeting some really wonderful people this time at my stay in Agra and Delhi. But this all gets forgotten after a point. Although every time I come back here this time of saturation gets more and more. Probably I need to travel again. Soon. 

Pakistan wins and thoughts on partition

It has been hard to write these days. I do not know what is it but something seems to be blocking me from typing down my thoughts. What is it ? Is it because of lethargy or busy schedule ? I do not know. But what I know is that not writing makes me go blunt, makes me keep going over some ideas again and again. It kind of stagnates me. Writing for me is kind of a therapy where I talk to myself . As I write I jot down my thoughts into coherent and expressive words. My brain moves forward in thought. I build on my ability to analyse. 

Today India lost to Pakistan badly, my father told me that he is sad and happy both. Sad because India lost and happy because Pakistan won and now he won’t have to face anymore stupid messages in his WhatsApp that try to target Muslims while poking fun at Pakistan. It’s a strange equation isn’t it. 

He was born a year after partition. Half his family moved to Pakistan during that time, but his grandfather chose to stay. The place where he has lived was later made home by Sindhi families from Pakistan. This is the culture he and I grew in. Thankfully there was very little or no enimity between people here. The Sindhi’s kept to themselves and their business while the Muslims helped them in all ways to settle down. A portion of Dargah adjacent to my home was given to a Punjabi family because the plot they had got for themselves was too small to live. The uncle, around 70 years old, I recently saw him post a status on Facebook demanding building of ram temple at ayodhya no matter how much blood is shed. 

It is madness. My friend, she says that partition was madness too. Because the people that you had grown up, broken bread with were the same that were killing you and likewise. 

I have been reading Manto lately, he was very disturbed by the partition and the way he tells his stories in a very raw form tells me how horrible the event might have been. 

I am about to host a walking tour of my part of the city. I do not know till how much time things will be the same. Thing are changing rapidly, our old neighbors are gone, parents have become old, people have died around me, people who have fed me and who I have always seen around selling things in bazaar. I do not know till how much time things will hold. 

I hope and I work towards a better future. 

The Indian media narrative

In the following piece I’ll write down what I feel the Indian media is trying to tell us. 

Pakistan is our biggest enemy and is supporting all terrorism activities in India. Midi’s policy have been highly successful and he is reversed as a world leader. The culprits of Babari mosque are under rials while the seven men who were shot in MP were terrorist. Making the BJP government support of terrorist outfits like Bajrang dal and RSS sound like normal. Hauling armed training of groups like Bajrang Dal as preparing for surgical strike while terming the same training of hijbul as terrorist training. Violence is being hailed as the new normal and the only problem this country seem to have is that of triple talaq. Everyday I read stories on the front page about triple talaq and my objective mind is unable to accept the report (it might be true or false but does it deserve front page ?) 

A wonderful world

What a beautiful world we live in. Today I got up at 4:30 AM to catch an early morning train. On the way to the station I observed the city around me. It looked so beautiful and interesting. 

I saw the sunrise, heard the azan, the bhajans, the morning municipality siren it all flowed together. Everything flows together if only we have the capability to flow with things. 

I looked at the eagle and the parrots and I wondered how come they are all headed into he same direction. Where are they heading to ? Or is their only purposes is to be seen by me, how long they might have been following the same routine before they finally succeeded in heir attempt. Or maybe it is otherwise and they do not care two hoots (I prefer it this way more ).

There are millions of way to look at things. The more we let our mind loose, the more we can appreciate the true beauty of things. The understanding that there is no truth and everything is true is beautiful. We have been trained to think in a singular manner, good or bad, low or high but reality is always multiple and depends on what you want to see. Reality is circular, it is good and bad and high and low.

 I hope that we embrace the multiplicity and enjoy the beautiful world around rather than keep worrying about anything. I hope our world is remembered for love and not violence. 

My illness and watching a Miracle

My conversations with an ill self. How the mind works when the body revolts, when negative energy takes over. 

What is being ill ? What happens when you are ill to your inside and outside ? I’ve had a sun stroke for last two days, should have seen it coming. 

I feel angry within , but I can decipher what is this anger about. Is it because I have this constant pain in my stomach or is it because I feel that my mother has not been paying enough attention to me . It can be because I feel that the world around is too stupid or too bad or too beautiful and is being spoilt. Or all of these things. But didn’t I knew it before when I decided that the best will be to focus on my art and not indulge. To observe and to write and to travel and to see things and to love. But am I feeling that it is not that easy now. 

I met my Nana recently.

The most beautiful part was that I was holding this phone in the palm of my hand and it was playing music by jagjit Singh which my Nana was hearing. His smile was magical, I felt that happiness is emancipating from my hand, as if my hand had the voice of jagjit Singh. The thought was beautiful. My Nana listened to the whole song silently, straining his ears sometimes, getting close to the phone speakers at other times, rubbing tears off his eyes. What power can Technology give in our hands, if only we use it to our benefit and use it wisely. 

This scene could definitely be out of one of my dreams but it is reality. But than how different are my dreams and realities. My Nana recalled his earlier life, his first love, he said that he does not want to take name of her and when I said that he can tell me and I will not tell anyone , he pretended to forget. Or maybe he did not remember. Or maybe he forgot. Or did not remember.  

I asked him what are the lessons of life he has learn , after all his jobs, facing partition, marriage , kids , their marriage an she marriage of his grand daughters. He said that he does not remember and maybe that was his lesson. 

Photo of Nana

Memoirs of a (Muslim) boy

Identities when revoked again and again become a defining part of us. We Indians are deeply communal in our way of thinking and it is high time we realise and mend it. 

5th standard, 2002

I was a lean and tall boy back in school. Not much liked by the teachers, I did not knew how to communicate with so much authority. Either they were too bossy or I was to meak. Out of a strength of 50 there were only 2 Muslim boys in our class. Me and my then friend Naved. Naved had taken 5 rs from Amar (or maybe he did not) and once during the break Amar was chiding Naved about the money, asking him to pay back. Naved did not had the money or did not had the will. That is beside the point. The point is what Amar was saying to both of us, “tum Musalman chor ho, sab ke sab ek jaise”/ “you Muslims are all thief” . I felt very offended by his remarks and complained to our then sports teacher Mr Gyan Prakash. Gyan sir explained to him how it was a wrong thing to say so. I faintly remember a song that someone had made as a joke.

“Musalman Musalman

Kheencho inke dono kaam

Bheja inko Pakistan

Taaki phir na aayein ye Hindustan”

It was much later I heard it and it was targeted as a joke and in a playful manner. 

(As I write this I come to a realisation that when I was in fifth it was also the time when Gujarat riots had happened)

B.A 2nd year, 2011

I was in Delhi University, pursuing second year of my Bachelor’s degree in English. I had remained aloof mostly to the communal targeting. Except for the fact that back at home my parents used to worry that the police can book me under any case, that never happened though. A few other Muslim students were booked and releasesd booked and released but not me. 

I was very good with cultural activities and was heading the stage theatre society of my college. I was the only Muslim student in my course and in the cultural society. The college was like my extended family and walking by its lanes was an endless process of meeting people. Some known and some unknown, some whose names were known and some who I knew by face. 

Once I was walking down the corridor as a person who I regularly met stopped me and said hello. “How are you brother”, I asked. He said he is fine. I did not knew his name and neither he did mine but we just waved to each other regularly. He asked for my name, ” I am Tahir”, I said. “Accha tum Musalman ho (pause, awkward realisation) chalo koi baat nahin”/ “oh you are a Muslim, (pause) don’t worry it does not matter”, he said. 

I was perplexed and I joked about it for a few days. Then I absorbed it in me. 

2017, at Home city

I was at a friend’s place. A close friend I must say, whose place I have been visiting since 2008. Her mom had always been discriminatory in traditional ways eg giving food in different utensils or limiting entry into the kitchen. But me and my friend we realise this and my friend had always been vocal against this. So it was an ongoing battle and it was alright. 

This time the hindu extremist party the BJP came into power and she said that it is good because at least now the Hindus can say with pride that they are Hindus. I was amazed, when had anyone stopped Hindus from saying that they are Hindus. 

In the same election the Prime Minister of my country had said that there will be no discrimination now on, there will be as many cremation sites as there are graveyards and that electricity will be available for all hindu festivals as it for Muslim festivals. Masses said this was an appeal of equality while gleeingly accepting the communal undertone it had. 

I was more worried about equality in education or employment or political representation.

2017, during travels

I went to a barbers shop for a massage with my friend. While giving the massage the barber started to talk about how this area had no Muslim population. He did not knew I am Muslim. He meant it in a bragging way. My friend sensed this and said that Muslims are also people, to which the barber agreed. The barber asked my friend his caste to which he replied that he belongs got the cast of the CM of Andhra Pradesh. The barber was satisfied. 

My friend had been earlier telling me about a film being telecasted on TV which he said was about this king Gautamiputra Satakarni and how he defeated the Persians and how he brought whole India under one empire. The king he told me reigned around 100 CE . I told him about how the idea of modern India is very recent and when I cross-checked the king had defeated the western kshatapas, the indo parthians and the Indo-greeks. I wondered if in contemporary popular imagination this Hindu king was defeating the evil Muslim invaders. 

The movie was very creative with the kings horse climbing vertical walls of the fort and slamming his thigh to challenge others. 

……………………

There might be many more such incidents, some forgotten, some absorbed in my subconscious and some that I remember but might just be whims of my imagination. In contrast to all the love I have received, these are nothing, the idea behind writing this post is to highlight the life as perceived by person belonging to a religious minority. 

The problem is not about Hindus and Muslims, it is about people who dream of a better country which is above communalism and people who want to be invested in petty issues and misplaced egos. 

The problem is about coming to terms with plurality, accepting diversity. If we do not have that than we are doomed as a country because we are plural, from North to south and from east to west, not one culture but many. If today we see Muslim as others tomorrow it will be Dalits, then tribals, then woman then north easterns, there is no stopping this evil then..

Surviving trauma and leaving Delhi….

The first day after the incident I felt that a grenade had been dropped near my soul. Though seemingly normal outside I was shivering to the core. The second day I felt as if I have survived an attack where I have been stabbed repeatedly at one place by a sharp knife. 

It is never easy to leave the ones you love and care for but it is necessary and sometimes even essential for your “survival”. On my recent trip to Delhi I had to go through a similar process of cutting off a person I really loved. Being through it is taxing for both parties and not just one. From a third persons point of view it can easily be said who is the victim but in reality not one person is, pain is felt by both and sometimes everyone who is involved, including close friends and family. 

What helps is talking about it, I am thankful that I have friends and family that I can talk to and who can counsel me on a range of issues. A friend of mine came forward and explained me.the psychology behind a lot of problems that I have faced in my relationships. Another friend laid down signs that I should lookout for in people so that I can foresee if things can go bad. Looking back I think there might be patterns to the kind of people that I date. 

But anyway…..Delhi was a beautiful experience. It is necessary to live and learn from all phases of life. I sincerely hope I take my lessons well.