In early March 2020, when COVID-19 spread across the world, engulfing India too in its deadly embrace, the authorities finally acknowledged it as a scourge and a national emergency of sorts was declared. Within four hours of the declaration, 1.2 billion of its citizens were forcibly confined to their homes, in whatever state they were in. The authorities, it seems, had no plan to deal with the problem of hunger that would arise due to this decision.
What surprised the entire country was the spontaneous and heroic support that the Muslim minority offered to the poor and the vulnerable. This is all the more significant since just weeks before the break-out of the pandemic, these very Muslims were subject to a vilification campaign by a large section of the media and even threatened of being stripped of their citizenship in some cases. Then came the deadly riots in East Delhi where dozens were massacred in cold blood and their bodies were thrown in sewage drains—which some say was with the connivance of the law-enforcing authorities.
Stories after stories are emerging that speak of the raw courage being displayed by young Muslim volunteers. They set up kitchens to feed the poor, offer free medicines to the sick at their doorsteps, and even boldly lent their shoulders to carry biers of Hindu when the relatives of the dead retracted from participating in the final rites. There are stories of doctors, computer professionals, lady volunteers, Imams, and ordinary Muslims who jumped into the fray and gave and gave and gave… unmindful of the religion or the ethnicity of the receiver.
The first part of A Story of Stories has also been made into a 35-minute film and can be watched here: