Wednesday, August 24, 2011

tu hindu banega na musalamaan banega

lekin hur Janmashtami pur tayyar rahega (the 'value addition' here mine bitte, and for the non-Krishna bakhts amongst you kindly replace Janmashtami with Dussehra. For the couple on the scooter --see pic below-- also escort a mighty fine Ram come RamLila, check your supplement)

Perhaps I protesth too much. For a number of friends have assured me that they quite liked this image, for  it stirred memories of the "secular India" they grew up in (I am guessing memories of the time  Sunil Dutt could sing a college song in a sherwani without him balking at the producer yeh Muslim role hai kiya?) And yes there are some good minorities amongst us who realise that living in the times of the " hate stare" its mighty fine to receive bouquets rather than errr brickbats. 

A plausible cause behind my ire, could be that this image comes at the tail end of August--August is a month that wearies many like me for all the exercises in nationalism. You know this is a month when you steer a group of young Pakistani Christian students into "performing" the national anthem, without acknowledging the sacrifice a member of their community made for Pakistanis every where, scratch that he was not just a Pakistani Christian, Bhatti was a brave Pakistani who was assassinated protecting our religious freedom, and a Federal Minister to boot.   I find it depressing that this lack of acknowledgement came in a year when civil awards came so cheap, that the President could find it in him to gift a Sitara-Imtiaz to a news anchor who had bullied Mukhtara Mai on his talk show. It was not as they were lacking the silver. Or bronze. I havent recieved one so I will not know for sure.

And after this post it is not that I will be receiving the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration either. Sigh!

so coming to the picture that has been appearing on Facebook walls (and receiving all those Likes and "love my india...dis click beyond explanation....happy to d core dis makes me....!! :)"

yes sometimes a  picture is just a picture, and "Aneela", you may turn to me "why do you think so much" but for me this image is the Salman "secular Muslims should celebrate Ganesh Chatruthi every year" Khan of a Tebbit Test. 
Or if you went to my school "why you no do extra-curricular activities, hainji". Singing, dancing, baseball, debating society, acing the Physics exam. 

Let me make it very clear, at no point do I make a case of  "barter body politics", that come Eid let the Other dress up in sherwanis and ghararas  carrying seviyan in their hennaed hands to compensate, for seriously what is it with this preoccupation with Reading Bodies Not Hearts. Hearts which could be  Dil Dil Pakistan or Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani , (even though they refuse to  don the costume you have chosen for then?)

It is just that lately, they have been raising the bar for Good Muslims here. So in addition to the list I once put up here, 
they  make sure that we know how the onus of everyone loving their India and  the country remaining all inclusive lies on the "good minority", 
so all this month after:
1) praying five times a day
2) fasting all day
3)paying your zakat
4) being asked to support Anna Hazare
5) getting up at dawn, preparing the morning meal
6) searching for the burkha (which is a marker of another kind, but that merits another post) and skull cap
one has to now get the kid dressed up as Lord Krishna
and get the scooter started , so you can cart his sorry ass to school in time.

Damn! the good minority's work just never gets done .

And while we are on this topic have you (where you are those who can read Urdu) read this brilliant column by Mohammad Hanif on "Jinnah aur ZulJinnah"

And well those who didnt study Urdu worry not for I will try to provide  you with the gist of the column,--a column in which Hanif uses his sardonic wit to  unpack Jinnah's famous   "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan" speech

 Hanif argues that even if one were to forget that this was a policy statement for a new Pakistan  rather just Jinnah's foresight, one would still marvel at the man and his vision. For who could have predicted that day in August, how one day our mosques will be spilling over with people who want to pray, so much so that many pray in the parking lots for they could not find parking, and Pakistani villages may not have basic health units or schools but they will not be lacking mosques, so eager are people to use their basic freedom to go to mosques.. and if you were not to like your local clergy , you are free to build your own mosque on the next corner and pretty soon people will be filling it up too. It is the same scenario when it comes to churches and temples with the congregation flocking there in large numbers as well. And Hanif quotes a senior Christian figure who laments Christian youth for being too preoccupied with Bible Studies and other such pursuits rather than getting a degree in "secular education". So yes even our non-Muslim friends are learning from our misguided preoccupation with all matters (seemingly ) religious.
Hanif ends his column with wishing that people had paid as much attention to the fact that a significant portion of Jinnah's August 11 speech had been devoted to warning the new Pakistanis against the perils of poverty, corruption, nepotism ! Why dont these topics "warm the cockles of our heart" and why do we only remember the bits about You Are Free To Visit Your Places Of Religious Worship ? It might have been nicer if Jinnah had said instead And if  you are not inclined to go any mosque/temple/church, and would rather  just sulk in front of the TV, you are Free To Pursue That As Well.

Amen. Pakistan Zindabad. And Jai Hind to all who just want to sleep in on a national holiday.


  1. My response??? In true munna bhai style "bas kar pagli, rulayegi kya?" :)

  2. It's not as if we don't have our share of nutcases. Every time that Salman celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi by bringing home an idol, there is a rabid mullah who declares a fatwa on him. Ravi Shastri mentions that he relishes beef & some guardian of Hindu religious pride sends out a hate speech against him.
    That said, though I doubt the authenticity of that picture (there was a similar one a few years back & this one is suspiciously like that), it warms the cockles of my secular heart & restores some of my national pride (which, at times, is known to vanish :P)

    Lovely post!


  3. I would really love my India if this couple could dress their kid like an arab sheikh, a nawab or just Mirza Ghalib, and everyone on FB went awwwwwww, rather than talk about how ghettoised we are.
    And yes, a brahmin couple, with lady in ghunghat, and child dressed like Ghalib( even if the inspiration is from naseer's tv show) might make my eyes pop out, or well up.

    But I would rather just feel a sense of comfort from the living syncretic traditions all around us, and not this page three secularism ( you are right, the parents do look harried and late for school! )

  4. Hi Aneela

    Loved you post on a serious matter, served with its usual sprinkling of humor and irony.

  5. Oh Boy, Aneela, I have laughed hard and often enough on MM's blog for me to go in to a long drawn intro here again as to who I am. I am just writing to say that mujhey toh yeh post samajh hi nahi aaya!! Honestly. It went right and far above my head. :(

  6. @harshika: Khair hai behen ab har Ek ball par tau 6 hit nahi hosakta. Consider this my nazar battu of a post.


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