MD alias Mamtaz Dadi
MD alias Mamtaz Dadi
I wasn't surprised to find her. She sat in the Starbucks Café, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood-stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf can be visible wide and open. I don't think that she has any intention to cover that knife.
I asked the Café manager to close the Café for some time. In any case, there was no customer in these wee hours.
It was a frightful morning for me. I woke up by 5 AM when one of my colleagues called to inform me that Salman was admitted into hospital after someone brutally stabbed him. I rushed to the hospital, but Salman was already in the ICU. The doctors said that his condition is very critical and urgent surgery needed.
I really surprised why MD was not present there. However, I gave my identity as one of his closest friends and signed documents for urgent surgery. Also, I paid the amount from my credit card.
Then I got an SMS ''I am at our regular place. Come soon…. it's urgent, MD'
First, I was confused, but then I concluded why she's not here. After all, I am the childhood friend of Salman and best friend to MD aka Mumtaz Dadi. I rushed to Starbucks Café where both I and MD use to talk alone regarding various issues of her family. Both Salman and her Grandmother were not in a good relationship for quite some years. My conclusion also based on Salman's last night SMS which he sent around 10.30 PM. The message read 'Either one of us might die!' I ignored the message as I am habituated with such messages. Every time I got such a message, I had to counsel both grandson and grandmother to find out a way to reach a compromise. I never expected that things can go to this extent today.
I sat in front of her. She moved her face from the window towards me. The cold glance was still there, but from some corner of her cold face, there was a satisfied look from her interior soul. Although she's aged around 65 years she always looked young and healthy particularly in a joyful situation. But at the moment she appeared to be aged like 75-80.
'Well, I am here Dadi!' I said as if I have neither noticed the knife nor knew regarding Salman's condition.
She stared at me for some time. Then she demonstrated a rare facial expression as if he caught me cheating. Then she looked to the floor. Perhaps she was thinking about how to start her statement. After some moments she raised her face and said, 'You are always right!' She was choosing her words very carefully, 'It's you who's always telling me that I am playing with fire!'
I didn't respond immediately.
'Look, I am a mother too!' She appeared to be emotional, 'A mother who already lost one son for no reason! I am still mourning his death for the last 22 years.'
Tears were coming down from eyes through her chicks. I realized her pain. Her eldest son Uncle Usman who was a close friend to my father was killed in the unfortunate 1993 Mumbai riot. He was a very sober and great writer. He was out of his house for the morning work and instantly killed. The mob also came to burn the house, but it's my father who was a DCP then took immediate action to save the family.
Salman and I were just 4 years old during that dreadful period. Salman already lost his mother when he was one.
'What a tyranny?' She stated again, 'the son had forgotten his father's brutal murder whereas a brother never forgot his brother's murder!'
Uncle Jahir was a 15-year young boy when that unfortunate riot happened. He really loved Uncle Usman like his father. The grandfather of Salman was expired due to cancer when Uncle Jahir was just 5. Uncle Usman always loved uncle Jahir like his son.
When both Salman and I grew up, this unfortunate riot had very little influence on both of us. We graduated from the same college. I choose the Police profession whereas Salman chose the academic line. I am now a Police officer in Inspector rank whereas Salman working as Assistant Professor in a college.
But that riot had a tremendous influence on uncle Jahir's mind. The teen-aged mind in fact became rebellious. He couldn't believe that life can be taken without any reason. He then developed an extremist mind full of hatred. Many a time he wished to take revenge. But it's Mumtaz Dadi who always managed him to cool down his tempers. Uncle Jahir always loves her mother to a great extent.
But the problem arose when Salman started thinking independently. He never endorsed his uncle's view. Salman was of opinion that the 1993 riot was an unfortunate incident. Vested groups incite people on religious hatred line for petty politics and innocent people from both communities killed.
Gradually the difference of opinion between Uncle Jahir and Salman widened. It was always difficult for Mumtaz Dadi to make out a balance. Mumtaz Dadi tried to convince uncle Jahir for marriage but uncle didn't agree. He said openly that he wouldn't marry until he takes revenge.
I and Salman shared the same point of view, but Mumtaz Dadi was sentimental to her Son. This created lot of altercation between her and Salman. During every such event, I was usually called by Mumtaz Dadi to this Starbucks café, where we discuss at length. It's I who warned Dadi that she is playing with fire in offering a soft corner to Uncle Jahir. It may so happen that both Salaman and Uncle Jahir would be lost.
Mumtaz Dadi always accepts my words. Don't know when we became friend despite the huge age difference, but she always believed that I can give honest suggestion to her without any bias. Also, Dadi had the conviction that Uncle Jahir despite his anger and hatred will never do anything which will bring sorrow and pain to her.
The frequent war of words between Uncle Jahir and Salman forced Uncle Jahir to live in another house. Very rarely he comes to the old house, but whenever he comes to the house there's always an altercation between uncle and nephew forcing Jahir uncle to leave the house again. One thing must be remembered that despite the bad relation; uncle Jahir never asked Salman to leave the house and never raised property issues. Always he offered Salman to take all the property but spare Mumtaz Dadi for him. Both Mumtaz Dadi and Salman never agreed to that. Dadi always wanted both uncle and nephews should stay under one roof. She always blamed Salman for not understanding the sentiments of his uncle Jahir or respected his attachment to Salman's father. Many a time Dadi confessed in front of me that one day she might kill Salman because of his atrocious disrespect to Jahir uncle. I always joked her that 'can you kill anyone Dadi?' She just smiles expressing that she never can.
'How's is your friend?' she asked applying a break to my thought process.
I was a bit surprised. Then started staring at her face thinking how could someone ask whereabout of the person she stabbed an hour ago? But she looked curious.
'I don't know' practically I said, 'But his Condition was critical!'
'Knife might be pierced into his stomach!' She said.
I was helpless at this time. When you stab somebody do you guess where it could have pierced?
She appeared to be tense. She looked again outside the window.
'What's the matter?' I finally wanted to ask her directly, "what made you in a killing spree that to own grandson?'
She moved her face and focused on me. The expression was really ridiculing me. I couldn't understand what she wanted to convey to me.
'Also, Salman's last night message was 'Either one of us might die?'' I just informed her.
She didn't say anything for some moments. Then she slowly said, 'Yes Salman is always right. This is the same message he sent to you a number of times. He always said that if not reconciled then one has to die!' Then she started crying again.
I wanted to say that Salman is not yet dead. But I prefer to remain mum.
'There was again an altercation between Jahir and Salman last night.' She then explained,' after around three months, Jahir came to call me because I was ill. I asked Jahir to stay for the night and requested Salman to behave. But as you know my appeals always fall in the deaf ears.
I woke up by 10 PM because of the loud war of words between them. When I entered the dining room, I find Salman pointing a knife to Jahir. Jahir was showing his chest asking Salman to stab him if he has any guts. This scene nearly stopped my heart. I never expected that one day I will see such a scene.
Spontaneously I reacted and slapped Salman. Salman dropped the knife and went into his room. But Jahir was crying very emotionally. I took him to another bedroom. He cried for long and then said that he can't forget his brother Usman. He is ready to die even if his nephew kills him.
I was really frightened. I could visualize another dead from my family. That really disturbed a lot. Then Jahir advised to let Salman own the house. His love for Salman was really deep. In exchange he just wanted me to live with him in his new house.
I was in a fix. For me, both Salman and Jahir are the same. I am a mother. I love Jahir as well as Salman. But I was afraid that the enmity is so worse, I might lose one of them. Yes, Salman's message was either Salman or Jahir will die one day. This was not acceptable to me. That's why I agreed to live with Jahir. The fact is that Jahir needs more motherly support than Salman. Maybe Jahir is elder but sentiment wise he is weaker.
I entered into Salman's room to convey my decision. He too became emotional and cried a lot. He begged pardon for raising the knife. His excuse was that Jahir questioned his legitimacy. According to Salman, Jahir referred him as a bastard and announced that he doesn't have a father's blood in his veins. Such harsh words made him lose his temper.
I didn't say anything as I never expected any of both would be so violent.
I came back to my room and thought to chuck out a solution on this. I have decided to call you in the morning because you are the only person who can be an interlocutor between me and Salman. We would have been talking now for a solution. But see what happened……'
She paused. I find tears again in her eyes.
I was hearing every word of her very carefully. I was trying to gauge how situations may compel an old woman to kill that too to, own blood!
In the meantime, I got a message from my colleague in the hospital. Mumtaz Dadi too became curious.
'He's out of danger!' I said instantly.
She took a breath of relief. After all Grand Mother's sentiment is a valid one. One may commit a crime due to instant insane action, but human values return immediately. She perhaps is repenting now.
Anyhow, I looked upon Dadi's face with a question mark stating what more she's to say.
'I couldn't sleep in the night' She again started, 'Around 4.30 AM I heard again the altercation and sound of physical engagement between Jahir and Salman followed by a painful scream. This made me very disturbed. I came out of my bedroom to find Jahir standing in front of me. He caught my hand and nearly dragged me out of the house. I couldn't understand anything. While being dragged out of the house I briefly looked into Salman's bedroom. He was down in a pool of blood. Then I saw Jahir's other hand which held the blood-stained knife that was raised by Salman last night.'
'That means uncle Jahir stabbed Salman?' I was about to jump.
She didn't react to me but continued, 'He brought me to a house near to this Café. It was a small two-bedroom house with very less furniture. The walls were painted with hate slogans against other communities. The magazines and papers available in the house were clearly of extremist views. I couldn't believe my eyes. But Jahir was calm. He then explained to me that this house is the war room of his group. He got some sympathizers who are planning attacks to fulfill their revenge.
Regarding attacking Salman, he clarified that Salman is about to expose this place. Somehow Salman aware of their terror plan and that was the core subject of the altercation between the two. Jahir said clearly that he can't afford the risk as their attack is set for today.'
I stood up immediately. I can sense now the upcoming problem in the city. I have to work out, report, and make strategies to prevent the attacks and arrest the culprits.
My respect for Dadi almost increased a lot. I thought she was the killer, but now she became the savior of the city?
'Where is that house and where is uncle now?' I asked in a hurry.
She raised her head. Then she took out the knife from under her blue silk scarf and forwarded it to me.
"I killed him!' She said.