A Man Born Twice
Updated: Jan 24, 2022
Zahir Khan designated as “Second-in-Command” in BSF was the youngest to hold that position in the Country. A breach of territory by the Pakistan army resulted in the demise of several army officials and the blame game resulted in the denouncement of Muslims in India. In an interview, Zahir was asked about the reason behind the atrocities exerted by the illegal assemblies of Muslim Groups. He Quoted “Nobody knows who is the convict, anyway what does it matter who committed it, whether a Hindu or a Muslim, the result will always be the same loss of morality and Humanity”. He wanted to describe the scenario from a Muslim’s point of view like an ethnic immigrant who had suffered for a long in a new land. But this was interpreted as a statement of an immerging seed of violence a person who doesn’t consider virtues of religion and culture important and is living under his moral compass. Even the Muslims called him an irreverent outcome of the modern world. This statement created a stir and extreme pressure was exerted by social groups, politicians and bystanders. Finally, after being humiliated extremely he had to quit his job. He thought of it as “Abandoning” it but his adversaries called him a quitter. Due to these circumstances, he took her wife and his five-year-old son “Abraham” to Mumbai. It was difficult for the family to move from Old Delhi and mostly for “Abraham”. He was a bright and cheerful kid accustomed to living in the Busyness of his native place. They were out of Choice in the current scenario.
Zahir changed his name to “Rakesh Sharma” and everything was agreed by her wife Shayamli who was a Hindu. He became a vegan, started visiting temples, did charity and most importantly accepted every statement said by a Hindu. Nobody would give him a job with this name as it was a recent namesake and his existing experience wasn’t worth appreciation. He knew it all that he had to start all over from the beginning. Luckily, he got a job as an attendant in the store of Mr Ram Kumar Oli, who owned a small cyber cafe and gave the Job to Rakesh because of his obligation towards Hinduism and its virtues. He developed a habit of reading while sitting in the cafe due to idleness and came across books like “Culture and Anarchy” by Matthew Arnold. He became a quiet man. At home, he would come early sit with Shayamali and listen to the stories of Abraham from school. He was such a good father that he won’t deny Abraham of anything. Every wish of his was fulfilled. After the death of Mr Oli, Rakesh took over the Cafe.
Internet became a necessity and so his profits shot up. One morning Abraham woke up early in the morning and saw a light coming out of his father’s Cabin. He went near the door and saw his father sitting on a mat with his head bowed down towards the window. It was the morning’s Azaan from a mosque near their house. Abraham wanted to enquire about it but his father’s love for him denied this initiative. Still, it was too much for a kid to comprehend. He started to keep checks on his Father thereupon. After school, he would wait for the evening Azaan and for his father to come to his Cabin which he never did. He searched in his bookshelf for Quran which could not be found. Abraham School days ended in this inquisitiveness but he couldn’t find proof. After School, he started preparing for BSF. This dream of becoming the Director-General of the “Border Police Force was inspired upon him by his mother. She wanted Rakesh to see his son living his abandoned Dream.
During Ramzan one day, Abraham was managing the cafe in his Father’s absence and checked his browsing history. He came across the interview given years ago by Rakesh. Abraham couldn’t recognize his Father at first, neither his voice was the same but after repeated viewings, he recognized the gleam in his eyes. Abraham then looked over the internet for the incident and the cloud cover over his thoughts vanished. Abraham confronted it all to his mother. She started crying and told Abraham about the circumstances that led them to leave Old Delhi and come to Mumbai. How his Father has pretended every day of his life to be a Muslim for the past 12 years. She even took a promise from him to not question his father about his identity. But all this gave a greater motivation to Abraham who mended his ways towards his goal. After a whole year, he got a call for an interview and had to go away. His mother was very hopeful that Abraham will get selected. After so many years of struggle, Rakesh was indifferent about everything. Before leaving, Abraham gave a gift box to his father and asked him to open it once he leaves. Abraham left and Rakesh opened the box in his Cabin.
It had a Taqiyah and a fine piece of Kurta Pajama in Satin Color. Rakesh tears curled over his cheeks it felt to him like his world has again come to a halt. Shayamali confronted him in those intimate moments. After seeing a man sacrificing, and suffering so much she wanted him to accept who he was. But all was left on Rakesh. He closed himself in his cabin for days deciding on his Fate. A day came when Abraham was about to come. Rakesh decided that he would go wearing the clothes given by Abraham to pick him up no matter what happens. So he did. He went out of the house with his head bowed down in shame and fear. He tried to ignore the glances and stares along the way but it was too much to leave away. He turned behind and saw every other person from the neighbourhood looking at him. This disheartened him and he was about to die for fear. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned back briskly with fear. It was Abraham adorned in the costume of BSF. Rakesh started crying and hugged his son. Abraham whispered in his ear.
“Zahir Khan...Zahir Khan.”
At this Zahir’s tears were outburst. He covered his face with his hands. Rakesh turned Zahir towards the encroaching crowd.
“My father is a Mullah...yes...he is but he is much more. He didn’t look for culture as a study of perfection Rather he adorned the perfection of humanity. He led a life of a Muslim, a Hindu, a Father, a Husband and a Saviour. He has shown me a way to live and he will live as he wants now. Nobody dares accuse him of anything enough has been done for Culture and religion”.
He took him towards their home as the crowd showed them the way.