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Bridging the divide between communities : Part II

Posted by Unknown Monday, 17 December 2012 0 comments
Bridging the divide between communities : Part I

The sunshine was waning towards the west as it grew darker. A large number of birds could be seen perching on the trees and rushing violently towards their home. The river reflected vibrant colours of the fading sunshine, trying to suffuse calmness in the air. The silence broke as the evening tea arrived for the three of them.

“Fetch me some biscuits with my tea”, Gopal ordered in a harsh tone to the kid who had been delivering tea and snacks to his clients for years and labouring hard with his father and contributing to the family income.

Although child labour is prohibited on paper, it is still a harsh reality. At such an impressionable age this kid had succumbed to this harsh reality. 

“I want some samosas”, Imran placed his order.
 In his turn, Farhan remained silent for a while but as the kid was about to leave, he asked for some jalebis(Indian sweets).

Tea is indeed incomplete without such Indian snacks. 

Gopal continued with his task of separating the entangled jute threads and bamboo sticks as others waited for their snacks to arrive.

“Farhan”, Gopal asked, disheartened, “did you ever feel that you grew in an atmosphere of mistrust and injustice? We have been making effigies for nearly a decade now and have always been together in our thick and thin”.
Farhan remained silent. A sense of fear had ripped his emotions apart.
Gopal continued, “Why do you trust these demagogues? Come elections and they will take out the tool of communal hatred and misunderstanding from their armour”.

The snacks had arrived by now. Imran grabbed his samosas in haste. As he took the first bite, he showered his words of wisdom. “None of these self-styled leaders can succeed in creating divides in the heart of our communities if we stay united and strengthen our bond of mutual trust and affection.” The samosas were so hot that steam was visible emanating out of his mouth as he continued enthusiastically, “So, let us initiate a quest to bring the people of both the communities closer to each other”.
“We can be the torch bearers of this great effort!” Gopal exclaimed as he dipped biscuits in his cup of tea.

Hearing these words, a sense of pride awakened in the heart of Farhan. In an apologetic tone he reprimanded himself of being swayed away by the irrelevant and prejudiced views that he had overheard from his neighbours.
“We will burn these effigies with great razzmatazz!” he exclaimed as his eyes got filled with tears of both happiness and shame. Flies had started gathering over his jalebis as he shooed them away and stuffed his mouth with a few pieces.

It may still be easy to plan things out in the wake of a disaster, but it is equally difficult to execute the plans as desired. Neither fortune nor circumstances tend to lend a helping hand in such desperate situations. Some land up accusing the Almighty for their woes while many others tend to seek solace in the shadows of divinity.

It was a near impossible task for the trio to sort out the differences between the two communities or appeal to the perpetrators of hatred for sane views and judgement. They were repeatedly warned to confine themselves to being the aamadmi and threatened of dire consequences if they followed their idea of putting their thoughts to action. Farhan and Imran were denied entry into religious places and barred from participating in prayers or any other community activities. They were chided and rebuked wherever they went and were even warned of their expulsion from the ‘biradari’ (community). On the other hand, Gopal met a similar fate. Neither could he pray in the temple nor could he participate in any community activity. Wherever he went, he was greeted by pale faces. He felt himself gripped in the arms of solitude.

“I wish I could expose their evil designs”, Farhan murmured as he brisked towards his shop. He was being accompanied by Imran.
“Yes we can…”, Imran nodded, “I’ve a plan”, he said.
As they approached towards the shop, Farhan was slapped hard on his face by someone.
It was Zubair, the local goon who had been involved in several heinous crimes like rape, molestation, vehicle theft, burglaries etc. In retaliation, Farhan was about to blow his clenched fist on the face of the goon, when suddenly Gopal intervened.
Bhaijaan, aapko is pavitratabeejkavaasta (Brother, please leave us for the sake of this holy amulet)”, he pleaded.

In a trice, a crowd gathered around that spot, curious to know what had let to this combat between the two. It was only after some senior citizens pleaded to the criminal with folded hands to ‘pardon’ the boys. The goon did leave that spot but even then he threatened them of his presence in the vicinity.

Hardly a couple of days were remaining before the festival. Ramleelawas being showcased at a very low profile this time.
“Let’s get to work now”, Gopal requested others as he crouched to raise the shutter of his shop.
“Imran, you had a plan?” Farhan smirked.
“Yes…I thought of asking for the assistance of some kids to distribute the invitation to the function among people of both the communities”, he revealed.
“Why would they help us?” Gopal asked as if the kids were to be asked to surrender their pocket allowance.
“They certainly will…I have kites and cricket balls in return for them”, Imran assured as he chuckled.

With such turmoil in their heart inside and the tense moments outside, the three took the courage to abide by what their heart felt. Soon an invitation was drafted, it read as follows:

 “Respected sir/madam
You are cordially invited to grace the occasion of Dusshera celebration along with your family members and be an integral part of the proceedings.
The forces that are bent on to spread mayhem in our nation by fanning the flames of hatred will ultimately be defeated.”

It was 13th October, the Dusshera day. The giant size effigies were erected in the ground and several stalls adorned the adjoining streets. Destiny was on the boys’ side this time. Their idea worked and a large number of people congregated in the ‘maidan’ (ground) to be counted in the quest to restore peace and unity. Indeed, it helped a large number of people repose their faith in the victory of good over evil.

As the people witnessed the effigies go up in flames, they were enlightened by the fact that the true elements of a religion are love, tolerance, humanity and brotherhood. Only a compassionate soul is religious and pious in true sense.

The election that followed a few days later saw active participation of people who were determined to stem out these perpetrators of violence and hatred from the system.
Creation of effigies by Hindu and Muslim artists together is a perfect example of the secular ethos which needs to be emulated to destroy the evil designs of the present day Ravanas of hatred. Let us contribute our bit in narrowing these chasms of differences and misunderstanding and bridge the divide between communities. Let us pledge to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.


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