By Mohammad Azeemullah
At the time of the partition of India in 1947, my father, then a government employee, had filed a paper to a local office as a possible nominee to migrate to Pakistan.
Migration was not an easy task then. It involved all risks of physical and mental pain. Thus he looked distressed.
One day, his friend and colleague, Harihar Thakur, a Hindu working in the same government office, noticed my father in being low spirits. Upon a reply from my father, Harihar Thakur got furious and passionately said in Bhojpuri language: ‘Sab Musalman ke Pakistan jaye ke zaroori na ba’ meaning ‘all Muslims need not compulsorily go to Pakistan’.
My father did not know that there was an alternative for Muslims to choose…either to travel to Pakistan or to remain in India immediately after the partition.
Harihar Thakur roared loudly: ‘Ghar bar duar chod ke kahan jaibe? Tu pagla gaile ka?’ (Where will you go leaving your house, land and people behind? Have you gone mad?)
Then Harihar Thakur pursued the office where my father had submitted the paper as a possible applicant to travel to Pakistan. The Hindu friend of my father luckily got the application paper back, torn that up into innumerable pieces and then threw them up in the air.
That is how a Hindu sealed our future to be Indian and shielded our family from embarking on a journey of chaos and confusion. That is how Harihar Thakur reasoned a Muslim’s conscience to remain in India with as much dignity and security as a Hindu could have in a modern, secular and democratic state.
There could be thousands of similar anecdotes where Hindus generated optimism in the eyes of millions of Muslims when India declared independent and a sovereign Republic in 1947.
Fast forward to 2015 when a Muslim is lynched on the mere suspicion of consuming beef, a Muslim is questioned again and again to prove loyalty, is threatened to go to Pakistan only contradicts to the persona of a Hindu character in Harihar Thakur who stood for the destiny of a Muslim family in independent India.
Thousands of miles away from India when I browse news channels in Libya and come across all such narratives, my heart sinks and recoils in fear if I am ‘safe’ in my own motherland and if I am ‘also’ a target of mob violence.
Truly Muslims abroad carry apprehensions about the way political narratives are being played in India by the vested interest to target a particular community for what it eats and how it dresses.
Such events truly demoralize us and belittle aspirations of millions of Muslims who work abroad in so many unfavorable situations with only one hope of going back to India with happy and secured future.
What worth is the money earned abroad when I find my own ‘mother’ questioning the integrity of her own ‘child’? Nothing is as upsetting to the heart as this mystifying experience of being a minority Muslim in India.