Monday, November 8, 2010


Diwali night inspired a resident of the building to set up an impromptu bar on the terrace and persistent invitations over the intercom forced me to join the gathering. We got into trouble with the ex-president of the association about the party the next day. But that’s another story.

As it usually happens in middle class apartment blocks, only the men found it comfortable to join the single malt party. The women wisely stayed away. And just as typically as in all male gatherings, the conversation was abysmal and stupid.

This time most of the drunks had a single point agenda. Let’s collectively take on our favourite punching bags- the Muslims. No prize for guessing. The gang was all Hindu. “Look at their history...they always came to power by killing their fathers and brothers,” pontificated one. Everyone present nodded their heads sagely.

Nothing new about that. We always do this. Rake up the history from the pre-Mughal times to illustrate how senselessly brutal people bearing allegiance to Islam can be. And from that silly starting point, it’s easy to make illogical leaps of faith and tar all Muslims as cruel, fundamentalist, terrorist etc.

Why do we Hindus forget that the immediate past of India is littered with enough and more Hindu families burning brides for bringing in inadequate dowry? Burning someone alive must count as one of the most barbaric and savage acts. And by all accounts, entire families are known to participate in this shameful ritual whole heartedly. And at stake is not even a throne, but a few hundred rupees.

But I guess since these brides are not “blood relatives,” they don’t count. Besides they are women. Why should their deaths, however senseless and savage count? They are not Babur or Shahjahan.

As for the charge relating to killing blood relatives, what about our own brand of honour killings? Do we spare our own sons and daughters if they marry within their own “gotra” or not within the same caste?

I contemplated putting across these arguments and then realized in talking about the blood thirsty nature of another community, the gang had started looking pretty blood thirsty themselves. I gulped down my drink and left.

Evil has nothing to do with a particular religious affiliation. Look at what we are learning about the good Christian deeds of the American army in Iraq thanks to the web.

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