when She met firdaus ...

‘She’ liked Muslim boys more than boys of any other religion. This bias wasn’t deep-rooted. It was quite frivolous actually. But I guess I shouldn’t call it frivolous because that way I’d be leading you into making up your mind about ‘her’ bias even before you learn about the reason behind it …

Well, the reason simply was that She came from a Hindu family and her father and everyone else, and even her friends told her to be wary of Muslims.

During her innumerable fights about the Hindu Muslim divide with her father She would repeatedly tell him that She had no reason to be “wary” of Muslims because she hadn’t been subjected to any sort of Muslim malice, hatred till date. She had had no experience that told her better judgment that ‘all Muslims were evil’. Her father would go ballistic when he heard her talk such rubbish. After all he had done for the girl …

He would repeatedly tell her about the time Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He claimed that that was the experience that had tainted his belief that Sikhism was a third smaller offshoot of Hinduism and therefore Sikhs & Hindus were like brothers. The violence that ensued between the two sects made him realize that if need be he was willing to become a part of it and ergo a protector of his now only brothers - Hindus.

How he equated this with the notion of ‘all Muslims are evil’ She could never remember, because as soon as her father started wrangling his lungs out of his ribcage over the subject, her eyes would fog over and She would travel to the world inside her head, wherein ‘all Muslims were NOT evil’.

In fact they were ALL pretty good looking, even outside in the real world.

That’s what her first lover was. Cute. He was in fact the epitome of cute.

Her father’s voice seeped into her soundproof world and She could only make out words like ‘Godhara’, ‘evil’, ‘Muslims to Pakistan’, ‘Mr. Modi’, ‘good politician’.

She banged the door inside her head on his wrangling lungs and the voice stopped.

So … where was She? Oh yeah! Cute. Cute Farhaan. Like rose petals on soft luscious lips Farhaan. Eyes like long boats on emerald green waters Farhaan. She had realized a couple of dates into their ‘sort of relationship’ that he had a flawed personality. The fact had then been irrelevant as they worshipped each other’s bodies reverently.

Soon She broke away as She did from all her ‘sort of relationships’. Keep it real She said whilst leaving. Every time! Quite a brazen approach, but that’s what I think. I don’t know about you.

On finding out about her and Farhaan, her best friend Mithi had told her, “Be cautious all right”

“Why? How do you mean?” She asked.

“Well, you know! He’s … He’s … Umm” Mithi said flinching.

“He’s … what?” She mock-flinched.

“He’s Muslim! And you’re NOT. How difficult is it, to understand that” Mithi snarled.

She told Mithi to s** off! In her head Mithi’s voice ruminated. ‘Flawed personality huh? No wonder!’

That was that.

Years had passed since then. I made her acquaintance at some point through these years. Now, we are in our late 20’s. Neither of us is looking to get married. We’re quite happy with our high coolness quotient score. We sport funky hairdos that change with the change of our dresses almost.

We club, we hip-hop, we bebop, we bling, we bend and snap, we set the dance floor on fire, we bring the house down and all that jazz …

We say ‘Whas goin on’ because ‘wassssuuuupp’ is cool no more. We drink, we don’t smoke because smoking ain’t cool no more. We say “Dig?”. We have butterflies tattooed on our butts, roses on our navels, and dolphins on our shoulders. We swear. We curse. We go to pool parties and flaunt our wares.

We are the girls, who everyone wants but cannot have.

I have just always wanted to say all that.

In truth, we are just your more than average modern, update, upbeat, girls-just-wanna-have-fun girls!

She hadn’t met any Muslim boys since Farhaan.

About 8 months ago She started learning Urdu. Why? I don’t know. But She did. She said it was because Urdu is a very polite language.

Whatever her reasons might have been initially, they metamorphosed into even more romantic ones, or one – and his name is Firdaus.

Firdaus is from Kabul, Afghanistan. He was born around the same time that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. His parents somehow fled to Punjab, and then finally came to Delhi, where Firdaus completed his studies. They now travel around the world teaching Pukhto or Pushto to children of displaced Afghanis who want their children to understand their ancestral language, if not their land.

Firdaus does not approve of their wandering lifestyle and has made Delhi his home. He teaches Urdu at the Aafiyuddin Madrasah during the day and takes private tuitions in Urdu in the evenings at his houses, which are marketed solely on word of mouth basis.

That’s how She met Firdaus.

She liked him the first time she saw him. His eyes were too small and She thought he couldn’t even see her. She smiled at him and he gave her a feeble nod.

Soon She started making excellent headway with the language and apparently that was the only thing she needed to make a place for herself in Firdaus’s heart.

In less than two months they had both reached a level of friendliness that didn’t go down well with the other students of her batch. It was surprising the number of students who came to learn from Firdaus.

On the first day of her third month of lessons with Firdaus, She realized that She was the only student in the 6 pm – 7 pm batch, which in the previous months had had 12 students. She asked him out for coffee at 7 p.m. sharp that very day.

Fortunately, Firdaus didn’t have any classes after 7.

Soon this became a routine.

Now, she refers to him as ‘woh’ ‘unke’ ‘unhone’ (respectful terms used by Indian wives who don’t believe in the concept of calling one’s man or husband by their name).

She covers her head when She goes to his house or goes out with him afterwards. They don’t have sex because Firdaus is conservative and does not believe in consummating a relationship before it is signed, sealed, delivered by Mr. Marriage Postman!

I remember once, a couple of years ago, on a ‘let’s get wasted’ night at her house She had been telling me about Farhaan. She told me about this time when She called him up and said ‘Happy Muharram’. Farhaan had solemnly explained to her that Muharram wasn’t a happy festival as she had assumed it to be and was in fact an occasion for mourning. She told me this laughing her head off, telling me how this was one of the gabazillion times that She had put her foot in her mouth.

Now, She follows all the Islamic festivals, days, months, and everything else that Firdaus follows in the true, honest pursuit of his faith. And mind you, it’s a difficult task in today’s day when every devout Muslim is considered ‘a borderline Terrorist’.

She, of course, has not told her parents about Firdaus.

I haven’t seen her since She started seeing him, not in the ways that we used to see each other at least. We don’t go to clubs, to our friend’s houses, to cafes, to parties, even pool parties.

I still go. However minus her. And so things are not the same anymore. I miss her I guess. We were a team. And when we were together we didn’t need anyone else.

She does sometimes invite me over to her house to catch up. The last time I went She told me that She wants to marry him.

My immediate reaction was “Why?”

“Just” she said.

“That’s no reason to get married, you know” I implored.

“Yeah, but you know. I mean this is what I want. This is the change I want. I want to be normal. I want to fit in. I want to let social conditioning control me and make me this Husband worshipping, household running wonder woman. I want to be a wife. I have grown up. And I think one of these days you’re going to start wanting the same things.”

I didn’t say anything in response. I just left.

I walked to a nearby café and ordered a Hazelnut Mocha, which always gives me perspective. But not after all she had said. It was all too shocking for the mocha to drive away. How could She change so much, almost overnight. What is this? A need for conformity? A need to rebel against the tide of the Hindu Muslim divide?

I just don’t understand.

I Don’t.

Not at all.

Nothing. Nothing She says can ever make me.

I just don’t.



solitary reaper said...

mmmmm waitin to read the rest of 'She'; quite interestin... mmmm.. :)

sacredeastwind said...

thank you so much ch'mma :)