Best Revenge

The Best Revenge

“Mom was right in asking me to spend Ramadan here, Nani. Easier rozaa’s. Smaller days than Canada.”

“Yes beta. Not much to do here though. Loadshedding; also its hot and thirsty. Not many friends; all the relatives are in Canada, US and UK”.

“Why is that Nan?”

“Beta they thought they would have a better life elsewhere.”

“So why did you not go?”

“This is home. I am not leaving my language, my people and my food. What will I do there? Watch endless TV about unfamiliar things. At this time of life, no one to tell all the art of living I collected for 70 years.”

“But Nani, you are alone and who do you meet here?”

“My neighbours, some old friends and cousins who still come. Then all the young ones from the maids’ household. I teach them.”

“You could be with Mom in Toronto. She will look after you. I know she has a busy job, but she loves you. Even the cold is bearable with heating.”

“Beta, my heart is here. Your grandfather is here in that graveyard. My father and mothers souls are here. This is home and a passport cannot change that”.

“Nani what happened to your parents. I never saw them and Mom was saying vague stuff.”

“(Sigh!) Well she never saw them either. I haven’t these sixty-five years”.

“Nani, what do you mean?”

“Well jaan, I was very young and living in Ludhiana. We had a fair life. Not too rich, but enough to live. We used to live in a Muslim community. Then one day I heard my parents talking. It was sort of worrying. They were saying we should move to Lahore or Multan.  I asked why?

My father said because they were coming to get us and we will be safer in Pakistan. So what is Pakistan and what of my friends? My choti sister started crying. ‘Don’t worry’ said Abba, ‘Pakistan is home and where home is the heart is’.

We went by cart first and then found this crowded truck. Father was lost for a while. Then in Gurdaspur we found him. So there we were in Pakistan and safe in a camp. It was August 16th. Then all hell broke loose. Suddenly the raiders came, there was gunfire, stampede and they were killing everyone. I hid behind some bodies. After they had gone, I went to see. Abba and Amma were dead and Amma was lying on top of choti to protect her. But choti was dead too.”


“Somehow I got to Lahore. Some good people helped me. Then after 10 days my uncle in Lahore came and took me home. He had been looking for us for days. I told him about father and he cried. Chacha said to me, ‘We have given the price of blood for this land. Remember that always. This is precious and yours. Don’t give it up easily’.

And so my dear, I do remember it and shall not leave. My land, whatever may go wrong, I am staying here Inshallah. I want the right to stand before Allah one day, to ask him to question all who have cheated this land and to call judgement on the evil visited in the name of the military, religion, democracy, justice, the rich and uncaring. I am going to ask Allah to visit the best revenge on these people who have spoilt the home that is mine and of another hundred and eighty million people. There is a heavy price to be paid yet. Alhamdulillah”.

“Nani you sound angry”.

“No beta, I am extremely determined and very sure”.

*Historically, Gurdaspur originally seemed to be awarded to Pakistan, with a 51% Muslim population, but then was subdivided with majority areas going to India. This became a high killing field, as population moved either way.

The Quality of Mercy

The Quality of Mercy

I have edited and rewritten a blog I wrote in Ramadan a few years ago. It still sounds so relevent for this month of mercy and forgiveness.

A Mufti in Saudi was brought to tears on a live TV program, when he received a question from Somalia.

Is my fast accepted if we have no Suhoor or Iftaar?”

It was on the 4th of Ramadan that I saw this tweet. The ensuing flood of emotions are difficult to describe. Not only did it bring tears to the eyes, but it made me immediately thank Allah, that I have the luxury to watch my calories and walk away from available food. It also set a train of confused thoughts, on the prevailing state of the world, which has culminated in this note.

Our own Prophet (saw) at one time broke his fast with salt and water, due to extreme lack of provisions, for three consecutive days. So I presume the distressed Somalian questioner, must have been duly answered. But the real issue is why was he in this sad situation at all. Is it not our responsibility to ensure people do not go hungry? And I divorce all religions and ethnicity in asking this. Should this not have been incumbent on us to help provide for this type of person. But here I am, sitting in my lounge, with ample food and maybe, a momentary bite of conscience! Soon, I will simply move on, till at some juncture a similar event will shake me up again – maybe another blog to salve the conscience. Sad!

Is this common throughout our human history? Unfortunately so! Man has been cruel to his fellow beings and if he wields power, he has been ever so nasty. We have seen events of mass exterminations, slavery, genocide, rape and pillage. Instances abound! Sacking of Rome; destruction of Baghdad; extermination in South America by the Conquistadores; the North American Indians; burning of Library of Alexandria; destruction of Delhi. The human race has taken its share with pride and paid in turn with sorrow.  Making a mockery of Shakespeare when he says,

The Quality of mercy is not strained

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

The more I see it, the more it becomes obvious that we do not really care. In the past, cataclysmic events were isolated. Their effects reached us through the long arm of history through generations.  And yes, they did change us in a slow meaningful way. We learned by simple paring away of our evils; that it is wrong to enslave, that it is evil to rape, that it is cruel to torture. Mankind realised after two world wars and a couple of bombs that there is a better way. We signed the Geneva Convention, we made the United Nations and we set up social services to help the downtrodden and needy.

Having done this some 70 years ago, we applauded that life is better. But then Korean, Vietnamese, Gulf Wars and Afghan conflicts have taken us back again, into the arms of darkness. I think the problem is in the rendering of awareness. We are too aware. So, as Aurora and James Holmes massacres happened, we were bombarded for days on all channels. Fifty years ago, when the Boston Strangler was going through his serial murders, we did not know about it. We read about it years later.

So, paradoxically, CNN, BBC, Twitter, FB, blogs are all contributing to this creation of awareness and desensitization. There is a burning platform every day and we the public have become immune. This immunity means, we do not really care. We have lost our soul! Corporations doing CSR do not care; politicians pay lip service; even social workers are so burdened, that passion morphs into the mundane.

I am not sure how to get out of here. The first LiveAid was an amazing and moving event. Thirty years later there has been too much starvation, too many reports and too many pictures for it to move my soul.  The bad news is that the frequency and intensity of these events is increasing day by day. Or maybe it’s the way the reporting is dramatized. Very soon we will be a race who walks past the needy of our kind, without a hint of sympathy. Even a lioness does not do that to a needy of its own kind.

We need to take stock, contemplate deep and get back that Quality of mercy. Without it, we will shred ourselves to pieces in the name of living in a news savvy world.

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