He is a Muslim…!


Juma-Masjid-Ahmedabad-Rohit-Pansare-photography

He is a Muslim…!

“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”

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The last supper…



I climb the last flight of stairs, tired with the bike ride from my office. The traffic takes a toll on you. I find the door unlocked, my room mate seems to be in. Which is usually rare. He likes to spend his time in the campus once he gets back from his government job. In fact, he seems to spend more time in campus than his job actually!

I rap the door twice, our bell is never switched on, my roomie answers the door looking surprised. “Your Early”, are his first words, which is true. Saying this he goes back to the kitchen. I follow him there, drawn by the aroma of dinner, almost ready. He has cooked his favorite dish today, Aloo Bhat ( a type of spiced steam rice with potatoes and veggies) and Pithla (a gravy like dish made with gram flour). I will miss this dish, the last supper…

Bhushan Chambewar, painter, industrial planner turned urban planner, multiplex dozing, hard-core Nagpurian who doesn’t like oranges, almost a pure vegetarian, sugar dunking-pickle gobbling monster with a paunch-phobia whom I have known for the past 4 years is leaving and I don’t believe it.
 
He has made me call this old dilapidated flat a home for the past 2 years, cooking up the most amazing food and at the same time cursing me when I most needed it. He has taught me to cook Nagpuri style and made me listen to the latest bollywood hits which I really didn’t like to listen.
 

He is the ‘mom’ of the house which he absolutely hates being called. Now this kid is all left alone in the land of fafdas and khaman. But this post is not about me. It’s about this great friend who has seen me through the crucial years of my very first job, my hobbies, my dreams. I wish him good luck in all his future endeavors  his new job and a normal life back in his home town. Adieu dear friend and god bless!