“He is a Muslim…!” The words still echoed in his mind as he got down the flight of stairs. The officer on the phone had apologized several times when he had come to know who Anand was. But it was too late. Anand had lost his faith and respect in the city and community in particular. Despite being aware of the communal disharmony, this was the first time Anand had experienced first hand discrimination in 4 years. Anand, an architect and an urban planner, was a Senior Planner in the Government. It was his job to know the city well, and be aware of its needs, the people, their troubles and expectations.
Arti, Anand’s sister, was following her brother’s footsteps, had come to the city on an architectural tour. The city, known for its Mughal and modern architecture was a must visit for budding architects. Arti and her friends had taken up the case study of the local Architecture and Planning Institute . This was a structure famous for its campus design and environment. Anand had been more than happy to have company for a few days and had welcomed them to stay in his house. Maybe it was a mistake, thought Anand now, as he hailed the driver to get the car and drive him home.
Asif, just out of his teenage years was being consoled by Arti and her friends. He felt angry and helpless. He had got used topeople staring at him, when he uttered his name. But this had been an insult and it had made everyone feel miserable. Yes Arti’s friend was Muslim, but did that really matter? He was a human being, no different. Anand hoped, all was well as he told the driver to drive faster.
The Police officers had already left when Anand arrived. He had inquired with the security guard and had come to know that one of their neighbors had made the complaint. The officers had said that they couldn’t reveal the identity of the complainant. Anand had argued and reasoned with them for an hour on the phone and had finally convinced them that Asif was not a terrorist, but just a student and his sister’s friend. Even Asif’s university ID was not enough to convince them. They were only convinced when they came to know Anand was a Government official. After that Asif’s identity did not matter.
This was the same city where a common man had once preached about peace, communal harmony, non-violence and led the people towards freedom from slavery. All had been lost, his words, ideals had been packed, re-packaged and sold. There was no room for implementing his ideas now.
Arti left the next day, as planned with her friends. Anand again apologized for the trouble Asif had to endure. Asif in reply, hugged Anand warmly and said, “An apology from you is uncalled for, I know I hugged a friend just now”
- All-American: 45 American men on being Muslim (lighttoreadby.wordpress.com)