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Short Story : Acclimatize

Nipun and his sister were the introverted new comers in the colony. They had come down from one of those north eastern states where even availability of new brands of ice creams (which appeared each night as advertisements on the sole state television channel after the daily dose of abysmal news telecast) was a luxury to say the least.

Father had a transferable job, so every 3-5 years they were forced to leave their best friends back and move on to a new, strange place, with new rules, a new weather, a new school uniform and it's curriculum. Sports had always interested him as it channelized his nervous energies, all his internal conversations into some form of energy. 

Sometimes spending energy on the ground helps you not have the energy to think about a haphazard life with no control over your surroundings.

Sports made him switch off his social brain and just execute tasks to the best of his ability. He was not strategic about sports, it was not really the team work or the figh…

Short Story: Faith: Is it better to have none ?



Abdul, a young 8 year old always felt bounded by his small 300 sq. feet home in Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, located in Mumbai, the financial capital of India.

He was one of 2 children, born in the hustling bustling city center and unlike the company he kept, loved to read books. I wouldn't call him a voracious reader because he had limited access; we might categorize him as an inquisitive curious kid who loved to observe.

His parents had modest means. His father Rahman Akhtar had always worked for a leather factory manufacturing handbags, lather garments in the heart of Dharavi. Yes, Dharavi is a medium, small scale industry hot-bed. No matter how much you demonize the place, it does create revenue and employment for a large part of the population in & around there there.

Abdul's mother was a home maker and like any other mother in this wide world, was always concerned about her family, their well being and made all efforts to be a fighting spirit for it's safety and security.

Mothers are the same everywhere, they worry, they toil, they work hard for their family thanklessly and are one of the most misunderstood people/roles in our lives till it is sometimes too late to acknowledge.

Abdul's sister, Rehana was a modern girl studying architecture. she was a go-getter and wanted to change the fortunes of her family. A little more practical compared to Abdul, a little more pragmatic. Abdul was the perfect dreamer you can ever find, philosophical, idealistic and no alignment between the real and possible.

Unlike his peers who loved to roam around and play all day, he loved to stay indoors and think about random things in life, talk to the elders, try to catch hold of old books, journals, magazines, anything that would give him access to the world beyond his town, city and country.
He traveled the world through his books.

He would keep a diary and make notes of things he loved about in articles he read and also his comments, thoughts he pondered over about the world. All he wanted was to share his thoughts to the world and be heard & be understood.

Life has a weird imbalance around the distribution of money, intellect & curiosity sometimes. Abdul would not care about the mosquitoes in his neighborhood or the yellow torn pages of his reading material or even the unhygienic common toilets in his locality, he would only care about the reason behind the existence of inequity, the root cause of desire and the vicious cycle of greed.

He would sometimes get into a fight with his father who would work 12 hours a day shifts to make ends meet, expecting Abdul to contribute to the family income in future, study hard and get a job to change the status quo, but Abdul had other thoughts.

Abdul wanted to live it his way, not bound by short term responsibilities and certainly not by external influences. He was very bad in his school as he always had a way of articulating his thoughts which was not always popular or statistically accepted.

He grew up. Somehow managed to get a part time job in a retail store along with his college, after a lot of pressure from his family, especially his father.
The family did not want Rehana to work or cover odd jobs at strange places at odd hours, as it was against the principles of the family. Abdul took the mantle and had to put his personal thoughts on the back seat.

As years passed by, he grew up to be a fine young gentleman who would respect his elders and women and always be on the right side of things till things took a U-turn in his personal life.

1992 Riots broke Mumbai into a religious frenzy and Abdul's life was no exception. His parents were killed mercilessly in the middle of the street and his sister raped and killed. The mob burnt and slaughtered the family while Abdul escaped narrowly. In a matter of hours, Abdul's life went into a coma.

The unfortunate, black riots of 1992 left thousands of families amputated, localities raised & burnt, people terrified, vulnerable & their dreams shattered forever.
Abdul had no bodies to bury, no tears to shed, no reasons to attribute all this to and essentially no shoulder to cry on.

Abdul lost his entire family in that fateful April '92 summer night and did not even get an explanation around it. All he had was a faith he was born into, not necessarily one he believed in & certainly not one he had ever fought for. And all that he exposed to the mob was a name & his attire.

His world changed overnight and his diary no longer had answers, all this left his thoughts messed up and his curiosity gave way to endless questions about why him ? why his family ? and why his faith ? or why any faith ?

Life has ways of derailing your line of thought. Life tests ! Life has a way of not giving you the leeway in your own world. As they say, it is not a bed of roses but a bed of thorns.

Was the tempest, the frenzy even worth it or even remotely fair ? Well, the answer is, nobody cares about Fair ! Life has to carry on at any cost and it does, despite your opinion.

Abdul went on to study political science at the Jawaharlal Nehru university and graduated top of his class. He then went on to work for the government guiding the central government in their public policy regarding minority rights and handling unstable bursts of religious frenzy & unstable situations.

He went on to narrate this story at the annual conference of his department in June 2017 and how riots are a calamity, totally uncalled for and how they derail, dismantle & potentially destroy families of anyone in the action area involving a riot. Faith is just a carrier that they use rather misuse to catalyze a catastrophe like a riot.

Faith is never a winner, faith is always a victim, a terrible paradoxical reason to be a victim.

Rehana would be 41 years old the day Abdul narrated this incident but she was gone long back. Far far away from the scene for a trivial root cause called faith. Faith in itself is not a trivial thing, but the attached magnitude of importance created a falsified elevated stature of faith in our minds.

Faith does not need saviors, or an army to protect. Faith needs to be left alone !

Hope Abdul's story makes us realize it was not worth it !  An eye for an eye is never worth it !
Abdul never wrote his diary post that night, but his thoughts about life were always registered in his mind. He went on to prevent the very thing his life was impacted by !

His life comes a full circle !







Comments

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