Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Inside the mind of the Indian Muslim

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This year, I did not want to serve ‘them’ biryani on Eid. But that is not our ‘tehzeeb’, our culture, my father insisted. So, on June 26, one guest after another – some among them likely BJP voters – visited us and relished the biryani, the qorma, and the kebabs. This, as the image of Junaid haunted me – his body soaked with blood, after he was lynched in front of a silent, complicit crowd of 200 in a train in Delhi.
Our guests on the day of Eid had absolutely nothing to do with what Junaid suffered, and I hate and condemn myself for resenting them. This wasn’t me. This isn’t me. And I wonder at the distance my heart has travelled from exactly a year ago, when I would be filled with excitement at our whole family preparing dishes for our Hindu guests (we have no Muslim guests for Eid as they are busy in their homes). Not too long ago, when I used to work in Delhi, I would sometimes carry a pot of biryani from Lucknow after Eid for my non-Muslim colleagues and friends. The sight of Hindus enjoying Mughlai/Awadhi cuisine at Karim’s in Delhi or Tunday Kababi in Lucknow swelled me with pride at our Ganga-Jamuni culture.
So, why did I now begin to resent a woman with a bindi on her forehead or a man with a kalava tied to his wrist enjoying a kebab at Tunday Kababi? Because I suspect he/she hates me. Hates my people. Hates the Muslim owners and cooks of Tunday even though he/she loves their food. Loves it that they had to shut shop during the crackdown on meat suppliers in UP. Loves it when the business of Muslim butchers is stifled even though he/she buys meat from them. Hates my co-religionists who wear topis and grow beards. Loves it when they are lynched in trains, in the fields, on the highway, inside their homes. Hates women who wear burkhas but pretends to support them on triple talaq. Shares fake videos about ‘evil’ Muslims on WhatsApp. Rejoices at the arrest of 15 Muslims after India’s loss to Pakistan in a cricket match on the basis of a false complaint.
No, I don’t hate them. They hate me. I am only angry they hate me. And I resent them for their hatred towards me. They pretend to fear me and my people, but in reality, it is I, and my people, who fear them. We are 14 per cent, they are close to 80, so we are the ones surrounded by the mob. And I fear that in their hatred, they will support the mob if it lynches yet another Muslim. Or, they will vote for a party that felicitates the killers or those who incite them to such murders by giving them Z-Security or a ticket to contest elections. I dread the plans that such parties may have already drafted for late 2018 or early 2019, a few months before the next general elections.
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