Everyone expecting the usual laugh riot, please stop reading this right now and get your mitts on a PG Wodehouse. The rest of you, be ready for some very angry outpourings.
Flashback. Circa 1992. A widow and her young daughter were househunting. They lived in staff quarters because the widow had a bank job, but she was nearing retirement age and she would need to vacate those soon. In a few years. They had saved money. This was the pre-phone a loan era. They went from building to building, from builder to builder, with their meagre savings and their dreams of a roof over the head to find themselves getting turned away for the vaguest of reasons. Finally, the broker they were going with hesitantly asked them whether they could not buy the house in the lady’s maiden name. Which was a Christian name. Much better than her married name. Which was a Muslim name. And could she pretend that her husband was abroad. A single lady with a daughter and that too a Muslim, society members were raising objections. That lady refused point blank. And she managed to find a home in an upcoming project in what was then a distant suburb, on a plot of land which was still then, wilderness. That lady was my mother.
Fast forward to 2004. The daughter is hunting for a flat. She has gotten married in the interim. To a Hindu Rajput. Her first name was always a Hindu name. Her married surname is a Hindu surname. She still visits the church, visits temples, does pujas with her married family, doesnt celebrate Id anymore, but she had done so only till her father was alive. And he had died when she was barely nine.
She gets the red carpet treatment everywhere. And some builders and brokers declare proudly to her that they’ve kept their projects free of Muslims. One of the buildings she saw had a PIL filed against it later by a TV actor. She was told this building would be kept purely for Hindus. She turns away in disgust, bearing in her arms, her then barely year old mongrel baby, he a confluence of Christian, Muslim and Hindu blood. The tears smarting her eyes.
And there are some other buildings. Actually one she loved. Just behind Shoppers Stop in Kandivili. Where she is almost ready to put down a booking cheque when she’s asked if she and her family are non vegetarian. When she replies in the affirmative, she’s told gently, that this project is only for vegetarians. No offence. Dont want the smell of non veg cooking polluting the area, replies the builder. We’ve all heard of the stories of the meat Nazis in Mumbai’s posh Malabar Hill area forcing non vegetarian restaurants to shut down by pouring filth on their customers.
She finally finds a new home. The complex, she is delighted to see when she reads the names off the board in the lobby, has a wonderful mix. North Indians, South Indians, people from the North East, people from Rajasthan and Gujarat. Surnames that denote every religion, every community. And her child plays with their children every evening. Not asking whether they’re Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Parsi or from the North or the South. He forges his own tenuous equations with them, all children, who yet are blank slates, who dont know they’re supposed to be different.
And she knows that all is not lost. Somewhere, sanity prevails. But she also knows she could afford this sanity. What about those who cant?
She refuses to believe that a belonging to a religion or a creed should form the basis of a decision as to where one should live. And knows that, if she would search hard enough she would find the right home.
And this is not only about Muslims. This is about the ghettoism. About the subversion of secularism. Non vegetarians. Bachelors. Single Women. Muslims. People from the film industry. All not welcome. For varying reasons. Only available for members of a certain community. Preference given to ________. Fill in the blanks. We’re creating our own new fangled apartheid.
The hatred of the other makes me nauseous.
We could rise up as one against the white supremacy to combat apartheid. How can we rise up against ourselves?
Read more about this and let me know what you think.