I remember my dida telling me how they’d been driven out of their Borishal home by the Khan sena. She would spend lazy afternoons narrating ghastly tales of the merciless treatment meted out to them, and I would gasp and shudder (at the same time, mind you) in shock and horror (yes, both). I was about 9 then. I didn’t know a lot of Muslims then. In school, I had a pretty classmate, Saman Ahsan. And, she could well have been my best friend had it not been for that poop of a birthday party that I’d decided to have that year. My mother had organized a simple lunch affair for about 8 of us. Saman was the last to arrive. Her brother had come to drop her off, and while exchanging pleasantries with my father, he let it slip that his was a family of butchers. Actually, Saman’s father owned a chain of meat shops across Dehradun, but who cared? The Devil was found; the details, forgotten.
Saman was never invited to my place again. Ma started bringing my lunch to school, every day, and I could no longer share her deliciously aromatic dabba- the fragrant, long basmati grains, the succulent mutton boti, the spicy bheja. We moved to
in couple of years. Saman, and her yummy dabba were soon forgotten. Delhi
The first time I felt the Hindu-Muslim divide was when I was few years shy of 20. I had just met Tasneem, the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. It was my first day in Junior College, and she and I had gotten along like a house on fire! I couldn’t wait to tell Ma about her, and when I did, she looked suspicious. I didn’t realize then that she was as imaginative as I was, if not more. She imagined every Muslim in
to have links with the Underworld, Dawood Ibrahim, to be specific. But, when she met Tasneem, she fell in love with her innocence, just like I had. During that one year that I spent with her, she would tell me, sporadically, about the kind of discrimination that Muslims still had to face- nobody wanted to rent houses to them, school admissions were, often, a nightmare, jobs were difficult to get. But, she had been spared such problems. She didn’t have anything much to complain about, so we let it be. I was just amazed to hear the other side of the story, to get a perspective from the other side of the fence. Bombay
I wouldn’t be ranting about this unnecessary evil had it not been for a wonderful person that I met few years back. And, it was love at first sight. His religion didn’t matter to me, and vice versa. But, for my Brahmin parents it was a bit much to digest. Their only child was determined to marry a Muslim. Some say, “It’s not their fault, really. They are not conditioned in a way to be able to easily accept change”. Some, seemingly liberal erudite friends of mine said, “It’s one thing to date a Muslim, and an altogether different thing to decide to marry one”. That such double standards still exist in our society amazed me. Anyway, we’ve decided to go ahead, and get married. And, it is sad to not have our respective families by our side on this happy occasion. But, no amount of persuasion, discussion has helped. My parents have, perhaps, already imagined me as a burqa-clad, beef-eating, namazi Begum with 6 kids called Anwar, Ahsan, Neda, Sufiyaan, Raeeda, and Riaz!
Just the other day my dida, expressing her disbelief and shock at my decision said, “All Hindu girls that marry Muslim boys should be stoned to death. And, all Muslims should either be burned alive, or sent to
”. I laughed. When I shared this with my fiancé, he looked little shaken, and in a low voice said, “What have I done? I wasn’t the one who drove her out of her home, was I?” Just some time back I’d read in the papers that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Maharashtra Police has been given orders to probe into alleged Hindu – Muslim marriages taking place in the rural areas. Apparently, the probe was initiated in response to pressure from two BJP MLAs Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Khadse who raised this issue in the legislative assembly. The MLAs alleged that there were a lot of love affairs happening between Muslim boys and Hindu girls that resulted in marriages between the couples. They said that these marriages were part of a larger conspiracy on the side of the Muslim community, and many of these young Hindu brides were even shipped to the gulf regions. Pakistan
All this is happening without a single complaint from a harassed or affected Hindu bride. Why this hullabaloo about marriages between two different communities? After all isn’t this what our Netas and Babus have been harping about? Don’t we all want an
that is truly without any religious and caste differences, an India that is truly egalitarian and equal? And what better way to achieve this than by marriages between different fabrics of the Indian society? Or is this an ISI plot from across the border and is the India intelligence agency sending well-trained, Hrithik Roshan look-alikes to woo and marry Hindu brides? Food for thought! Pakistan
Nothing can stop me from following my heart. It won’t be long before I say it, like SRK- My name is Khan. Malini Banerjee Khan. And, I am proud of my name. Mine is a simple tale that doesn’t involve the WTC towers, AK-47s, or Bollywood glamour. It’s about a couple in love. Simple, isn’t it?