“Jeeteyga jeeteyga Pakistan jeeteyga“ shouted three boys (not more than 12 years of age) in unison holding a green-coloured cloth. Suddenly a boy elder than them, caught and took them to a room and slapped each of them and said: “No country could be as beautiful as India.” He even made them repeat “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. It was since then the three never looked at the Tricolour flag the same way. The elder boy was the cousin of the three boys.
Born and bought up in a small town in a Muslim family, which is not so orthodox, my daily routine included going to school followed by visiting my friend Kaushik’s who was also my neighbour. There used to be another family of Hindus with whom I used to spend most of my time. It was with them I went to temple twice or thrice.
Birthdays are not cerebrated in mony Muslim families, so they used to take me to their home and buy me new
clothes and celebrate my birthday as if I was their son. It was then my cousin’s words started making sense. I was the happiest and luckiest to be part of two different families and I still am. This was my life till I joined university far away from my home in a hostel to study Engineering.
Having a beard then started being regarded as a sin. It was in my university for the first time where I saw a person (a friend of mine) being made fun of, “You belong to ta errorist group” only because he is wearing white clothes. I know they were just teasing him, but it seemed very inappropriate and uncalled for.
I just have few questions to all those patriotic people out there and I would be happy if you could answer them.
1. I know why we celebrate Diwali, Dussera, Sankranti, Ugadi. Do you have an idea why Bakri Id is celebrated?
2. I know why Pandavas went to Hell and Kauravas to heaven. Can you say why Jesus is considered holy even to Muslims?
3. I can recite the Saraswati shloka “Ya kundedu tushaharatushahara”. Can you say a verse from Quran?
And those who think only Islam is superior than any other religion, I have got few questions even for you my so-called brothers.
1. Why isn’t many a Muslim girl not allowed to go for higher studies like the boys?
2. Is someone’s way of dressing justification of his character?
3. If a person can be allowed to go to temple irrespective of his religion, then why isn’t the same in case of Masjid? Why are they being restricted?
4. You won’t even allow a Muslim girl approaching her puberty into a masjid. Can I please know why? I am just asking out of curiosity.
The bottom line is, just because I am patriotic, doesn’t mean I have to be intolerant.