Religions Have No Colours
Religions Have No Colours
Manzur gasped in pain and stumbled on the road. He met an accident while returning from his bank. He jerked three feet high in the air when his wheel landed in the water-filled manhole. He cursed the government like other ill-fated survivors and returned home with frustration. The muddy road had dirtied his favorite white shirt. Impatiently he banged on the door. His eight-year-old son opened the door and hilariously exclaimed, "Papa, Stop spreading noises. Mother is right when she says that you are the peace-breaker of our family." He giggled at his father's shabby appearance and ran towards his ailing grandfather and said, "Abba, Papa's favorite shirt has stains of mud. He shouts at me for my dirty school dresses every day but looks at his own shirt. Just come and scold him." Abbajaan sat on the bed and pulled the boy and whispered, "Don't be louder! Your Papa will become angry if he listens. Tell slowly, don't shout." He put a finger on his lips and smiled. The old man looked at the infant's face anxiously and asked, "Sahebzade, has your Papa brought chocolate today?" The boy became angry at him and replied, "Abba, you take the whole chocolate from me every day. Now, I won't give you a piece even. Why shall I tell you that?" The old man pulled him and cuddled and said, "OK, I won't ask for the full. Just give me a small piece; you eat the whole. Just give me a small piece and you eat the lion's share."
The doctor's advice to stay away from the chocolates hardly had any impact on him. He loved the dark Cadbury very much and tiptoed to the fridge in the night to enjoy one whole piece every day. Every month, when his son checked his sugar level, it always remained high despite the strict diet plan by his wife. He would lower his face like an innocent child and used to reply, "How can I say that?" when his son wondered how the sugar was out of control in spite of the best medicine and the strict diet. The old man enjoyed the juvenile acting. He walked towards the door to eavesdrop at Mumtaz's murmuring, "Every day, something or other happens in this family of four. We are FOUR but we live like a hundred." He smiled and turned back and said to himself, "Let her babble! I will chew my full chocolate." He opened the drawer and picked one big chocolate bar. The small boy couldn't control himself and whispered, "Abba, you are great! Please give me half. When I get one, I would share half. The deal is final." He broke it into two halves and closed the door from inside. Both sat on the bed and enjoyed the chocolate closing their eyes.
After a shower, Manzur wore a white kurta-pajama. He opened his bag and removed a big gift pack. He called his son, "Babu, Babu, come here. I have got a special gift today." His wife, son, and father walked anxiously towards him to find what was there inside. It was wrapped with a shinning golden paper. Babu pounced on him to snatch it away from him. His wife pulled him back. There was a red thread tied around his wrist. The little kid exclaimed, "Papa, it's a big chocolate pack. All my favorite chocolates are there. I would love to have all these." Seeing the red thread the old man asked angrily, "Who has tied it?" Manzur remained silent. His father continued, "I am asking who has tied it?" He replied, "My colleague has tied it. She treats me like her brother. Today is Raksha Bandhan. I gifted a beautiful saree to her." The old man left the place hurriedly in annoyance. Mumtaz tried to pacify Manzur to prevent a possible showdown. She said, "Manzur, don't take Abbu's words seriously. He is like this from the beginning. You know, he doesn't like all these socializing with other community people." She gave small chocolate to her son and kept the remaining in the fridge. The sudden exuberance of the evening died down with Abbajaan's reaction. He remained silent at the dining and emptied his plate hurriedly and retired to his bedroom earlier than others.
The next day was Friday. The old man didn't open his door in spite of Mumtaz's continuous call. Rather, he exchanged loud shouts and announced that he would fast for a day to cleanse the sin committed by his son. Manzur requested for hours in vain. The infant's tender voice also could not change the old man's decision. He locked the windows and the door inside and preferred to remain silent throughout the day. Mumtaz tried to persuade Manzur to apologize to his father but he too remained adamant and left for his office at around 10 am. The old man did not open the door for lunch and remained locked until Manzur's return at 7 pm in the evening.
Now, the entire family sat in front of the door to persuade Abbajaan. Finally, Manzur decided to apologize. He knelt in front of the door and said, "Abbajaan, please open the door. It's already 12 hours since you have locked yourself in your bedroom. We all are very worried. You are suffering from diabetes and FASTING is not good for your health. So, for God's sake, please open the door. I am ready to apologize. Please open the door." No response came from the room. He knocked on the door and requested once again. Still, there was no response. Mumtaz requested in teary eyes but it had no impact either. The little boy too tried but there was no reply. The old man's reply further robed the peace of the family. He said, "I am happy with my fasting. Don't disturb me. I am cleansing your SIN. May Allah refine your thoughts! You always doubt my devotion to Allah. I am undergoing penance to cleanse your unpardonable SIN. I will not open till tomorrow morning. So, leave me alone." Manzur felt tempted to rebut but Mumtaz pacified him with folded hands.
Manzur had seen his father's anger many times in the past. This time it was a different one. For the first time, he was witnessing a strange persona of his father. His father worked as a Maulavi in a mosque in his hometown. He was unwilling to stay with him until his mother was alive. He was diagnosed with diabetes in the same year when his mother died. His declining health and the mosque committee's denial of his continuation finally forced him to shift to the current town to live with his son. All his childhood days' painful times floated before his eyes when his father had to do part-time jobs to meet his educational expenses. Manzur couldn't sleep in the night and sit in a chair in front of his father's bedroom till morning.
The next day, at five he knocked on the door but no reply came from the room. He thought, Abbajaan was sleeping and waited for an hour. Finding no reply, he called Mumtaz. She became anxious too and feared worse. She banged on the door repeatedly. The silence of the room made them restless and finally, Manzur decided to break the door. His wife stopped him and asked him to push the window first. Manzur hammered the window with a heavy iron rod. His father was sleeping in the bed covering his body with a bedsheet. He called slowly for a few minutes but Abbajaan remained motionless. Then, he loudly called, "Abbajaan, Abbajaan, please get up. It's already 7 am. We are really tensed." There was no reply. Mumtaz pulled his hand and shouted in tearful eyes, "Manzur, break the door. I am really tensed and my heart is filled with lots of anxiety. I don't why all bad thoughts coming to my mind. Be quick, neither it would be very late." Then Manzur kicked the wooden door with full might. With a loud bang, the doors opened. He rushed towards his father and shook his body to wake him up but he lay motionless. Mumtaz brought water to sprinkle on his face. Manzur checked his pulse and put his fingers in front of his nostrils. He could feel the slow pulse and warmth of his breathing. Then, he shouted, "Mumtaz, we need to take Abbajaan to the hospital now. He is alive. Be quick. Let me remove the car from the garage. You send Babu to the neighbor's house and come with me." In a few minutes, they reached the hospital.
The security guard stopped Manzur at the main gate and asked him to complete the registration first. Manzur ran to the reception counter and showed his Health Insurance Card to the receptionist. He babbled to complete the process. The lady became angry at his impatience and asked him to wait for a few minutes. Then, she gave a form and said, "Sir, you have to do Corona Test of your father first and then only we can admit him." In a few seconds, he filled the form and handed over it to her. She replied, "Corona test is not done here. You have to go to the government hospital for the test. If it comes negative, then only we can admit your father. In case, he is tested positive, then you have to take him to the government COVID hospital." Manzur couldn't control himself and shouted, "What are you talking about? I can't believe, how dare you say like that? I come under the cashless category and I have been paying my health insurance bills for the last ten years. This is the first time someone from my family is admitted to the hospital. Your hospital is impaneled under this health insurance policy. You can't deny admitting him. One more thing, my father doesn't have Corona. So, speak to your authority and admit him fast." To his surprise, the receptionist called the security guard to remove him from the hospital. He became furious at the guards but the might of five musclemen overpowered him and threw him out of the gate.
The world suddenly became unliveable for Manzur. His father was lying in Mumtaz's lap in the car. He had no idea what to say to his anxious wife? A stream of tears fell from his eyes. He stopped behind the car and sat and started crying silently. An ambulance blew its horn behind him and he stood on the road and wiped his tears. He strode towards the door and got inside banging its door. Mumtaz was impatiently massaging the chest of Abbajaan. She said, "Manzur, be quick, we might get late. O Allah, finally we will be able to show him to a doctor. Nothing will happen to Abbajaan. Just drive fast towards the casualty area. Turn right, there is a signboard there, quick, quick!" Manzur drove a little ahead and parked the car on the left side of the road. It appeared foggy and noisy everywhere. His mind stopped working. Mumtaz became angry at him and shouted, "Manzur, drive fast; Manzur quickly get into the hospital. Why are you delaying? What happened to you? Have you become MAD?" She pushed him from the back. Without looking back, Manzur increased the acceleration and drove the car like a rocket. Mumtaz again pushed him from the back saying, "Manzur, Manzur, what are you doing? This is the best hospital in our city. Stop the car and let's go back to the hospital." He looked straight and drove the car fast. Mumtaz disgruntled in annoyance. Furiously she babbled and continuously pushed him from the back. Then, Manzur increased the volume of the FM radio to the maximum so that her voice couldn't reach his ears and drove fast. In a few minutes, they reached the City Government Hospital. Then, he shouted, "Mumtaz, I have no time to talk. Just close the door. I am carrying Abbajaan and follow me." Manzur's hopes were gradually fading as his father lay unconscious in his arms.
Immediately Abbajaan was rushed to the emergency area where two nurses wearing PPE kits were receiving the patients. They gestured Manzur and Mumtaz to stay away from them and told them to step back. One nurse came with a stretcher and they took his father to the third floor. Both were stopped at the entrance in the basement and a man in a PPE kit told them to wait in the waiting hall. Manzur tried to speak to the man at the entrance about his father's health but he had no information. Mumtaz closed her eyes and sang again in slow voice. After an hour, the same nurse who received them appeared and informed, "The sugar level of your father has gone down and we trying to check his if it has affected his other organs. We have to conduct a few tests and you have to wait here as nobody is allowed to enter inside as it is a COVID Hospital. You can wait here." She turned back and started walking fast but Manzur stopped her and said, "Madam, Can you give your number as we are worried a lot about my Abbajaan." She removed a paper from her gown and wrote her number. Immediately he clicked the photo and requested with folded hands, "Madam, please save my Abbajaan. Please save his life. I have heard the doctors are next to God. I know you can save my father." The nurse gestured him not to lose hope and waved her hands before leaving the place.
Manzur's heart was filled with guilt. The social customs are for celebration but his family was bereaving in pain instead. He never expected such a reaction from his father who had recently started living with them in the city after a long time. Before his arrival, he loved socializing with his other community friends. Every year he visited his hometown once but he had no such friends there. He was born and brought up at a place where only his community people lived. Yet, when he moved out of his hometown for education, friendship with other community classmates never appeared strange to him. His father was a religious man but such a response was beyond his comprehension. Had he known earlier he wouldn't have tied the thread on his wrist ever. He looked at the red thread on his wrist. Sometimes he felt like removing it and throwing it but he knew he wouldn't do that. Then, he hid it under the cuff of his shirt.
Mumtaz was worried about their son. She wanted to go home and return with food for Manzur but the delay in getting information about Abbajaan made her restless. Finally, Manzur came to her rescue and advised her to go home and return in the evening.
The nurse appeared again after two hours. Manzur ran towards her anxiously but she stepped back asking to maintain distance. Her face was fully hidden under the facemask. She said, "Sir, your father has regained senses but his kidney has been badly damaged. He is behaving like a mad. We have to consult a nephrologist or shift him to a super-special hospital for his treatment. His COVID report has come negative. He is asking everyone's name in the ward and wants to be treated by a muslim doctor only. To manage him, we have to inject sedative. Now he is sleeping." Manzur and his wife were relieved at her revelation. He asked, "Madam, such doctors are not available here?" Shaking her head she replied, "No, but a new doctor has joined recently but he is on leave now. He will join duty after a week." In her words, he saw a ray of hope. He asked, "Madam, is he here? I will persuade him. Where does he live? Please give his address." She had no information about the new doctor and asked him to contact the Dean's office. Manzur ran to the Dean's office but it was locked. He tried to get the new doctor's information but nobody had any clue about him. He called one of his relatives living in the city to stay in the hospital and returned home in the middle of the night. He couldn't sleep throughout the night as the guilt of hurting his father overpowered his thoughts.
He visited the hospital in the early morning and relieved his friend. Then he called his wife to stay until his return from his bank. He had to visit the bank to apply for leave and complete his pending works. His boss granted his two days' leave. While coming out of the bank, he met Rakhi his colleague who tied the thread on Rakshya Bandhan day. She came running towards him and anxiously asked, "Manzur Bhai, what happened? Is everything alright? You didn't come yesterday. I tried on your phone but nobody picked up." He looked at her face and replied, "Everything is fine. Abbajaan is not alright. He has been admitted to City Government Hospital due to low sugar." She tried to console him and said, "Oh No, what happened to your father? You should have given one of my chocolates. Have patience, he will be alright." He smiled to himself and replied in tearful eyes, "Rakhi, your chocolate….., right. ……Yes, ………….I should have given him a……one." His broken utterance discomforted her. She asked, "Manzur Bhai, what's the matter? Is he alright?" He decided not to discuss the chocolate and continued, " This is a useless city. There isn't one single kidney doctor here. I wonder, why we are working in this worthless city." She looked into his eyes and replied, "No, Manzur Bhai, there are good doctors here. You can consult one good doctor and who told you there is no kidney doctor. There is such a doctor in our city and he is my own brother Dr. Rakesh Das. He has joined recently and now staying with me. He is looking for a good house to bring his family. You know, his wife is also a doctor." His eyes glittered in joy and asked, "Rakhi, I can't believe. He is your brother. Oh my God! I have been trying to contact him since yesterday morning. Just do me a favor. Can we meet him now? My father is very serious. I need to talk to him now. Let's go to your home at Rakhi!." Both drove to her house in a few minutes.
Rakhi's brother was at home when they reached. She introduced Manzur as her second brother and requested him to attend his ailing father. Manzur hid his tears when she said, "Rakeshbhai since Manzur is my brother like you, his father is mine too. You have to treat him well so that he would return home in a few days and you shouldn't charge any money from him." Her brother smiled and asked him to go to the hospital immediately. Manzur stopped him and said, "Dr. Rakesh, we will go but there is a problem." He stammered while speaking. Rakhi anxiously asked, "Manzur Bhai, why are you delaying? You must go to the hospital as quickly as possible. Just have patience and sit in the car." Manzur sat on the sofa and covered his face with his palms and started sobbing like a baby. She patted on his back and said, "No, No, everything will be alright, have patience. He will do all the needful to completely cure your Abbajaan." He held her palm and said, "Rakhi, once he comes to know that your brother is a Hindu, he would not take medicine at all. I know my Abbajaan, he will not receive treatment from him and prefer to die rather." The disclosure shocked the sibling duo. They could feel Manzur's helplessness. Rakhi's brother finally said, "Manzurji, don't worry. Just have patience. I will manage it. We have to save him at any cost. His life is more precious than his faith. Let's move quickly." Manzur had no idea how to manage his father. Yet, he believed his words completely and both drove to the hospital in a few minutes.
His father was already shifted to the ICU when they reached the hospital. Dr. Rakesh visited the Dean's office first and returned with two officials. In a few seconds, two nurses came with a bunch of medical reports and showed it to him. He thoroughly read all the reports and instructed to conduct a few more tests. Then, one of the nurses took them to the ICU where Abbajaan was kept.
All wore masks and sanitized their hands before entering the ICU. Dr. Rakesh hid his identity card in his pocket. Manzur too followed him to the bed. Seeing him, his father sat on the bed. His eyes were tearful and he continuously murmured, "Allah, Allah, give good thoughts and wisdom to my son. I have already lived my life. Now, my son mustn't forget his faith. O Allah, give him the power to decide what is good and bad."There were indescribable grief and immeasurable pain in his words. He babbled while speaking. Manzur looked at Dr. Rakesh's face and said, "Doctor, now you are God to me." Dr. Rakesh tried to console, "Manzurji, don't worry. He will be alright." The nurse showed him all the reports once again. He tried to talk to Manzur's old father, "Uncleji, how are you? Now, since I am here, nothing will happen to you." He tried to check his pulse. The old man threw his hands and reacted violently. He said, "Just tell me what is your name?" Dr. Rakesh looked into his eyes and replied, "Dr. Salim, my name is Dr. Salim. My father's name is late Saqlain." The face of the old man suddenly changed. His eyes shone like pearls and started smiling. Then, he pulled Dr. Rakesh near him and said, "Yes, I know, all doctors from my religion are good. They are better than others." Then, Dr. Rakesh smiled and said, "Uncle, I will completely cure you and you would go home in a few days." Abbajaan sarcastically teased his son, "Manzur, see how he is, he is a gem of a person. Now, I will be alright. Dr. Salim, including me, treat my son as well. His mind is polluted and he needs mental treatment." Manzur smiled at his own helplessness. Dr. Rakesh said, "Yes, Uncleji, I will treat you both as he is my brother."
Abbajaan's health improved in a week by the treatment of Dr. Rakesh. Manzur was relieved to know his father's kidney was unaffected by the fasting. Finally, the time came for his discharge from the hospital.
It was Friday. Everyone was happy. Mumtaz packed Abbajaan's luggage. He performed the Friday prayer in the general ward. Manzur cleared all the dues of the hospital. They all waited anxiously for Dr. Rakesh for his final clearance to go home.
In a sudden turn of event, the Dean decided to pay a surprise visit to the general ward. Learning about his visit, the ward was repeatedly cleaned by the staff. The Dean appeared elated in the company of the new doctor. Dr. Rakesh and many other doctors escorted him to the ward. Seeing Abbajaan Dr. Rakesh smiled and briefed about the medicines and the diet plan for him. Manzur wrote on a paper nodding his head. Abbajaan held Dr. Rakesh's hand and thanked him for his amiable nature. He said, "Dr. Salim, you have been very kind and affectionate towards me. You have cared for me like your father. I will never forget you in my life. May Allah bless you with all happiness of life!" The Dean was taken aback at his address. He stared at Dr. Rakesh's face in disbelief and interjected, "Yes Uncle, he is one the best doctors of our hospital, and literally I had to beg before him to join our hospital. By the way, he is not Dr. Salim, he is Dr. Rakesh Das. Uncle, I think you have mistaken him as Dr. Salim." The old man couldn't believe his eyes what the Dean talked about. He annoyingly reacted, "No Saheb, he is Dr. Salim. I know his father's name also, he is the son of Saqlain Mia. Rather, you check your facts." He smiled mockingly at the ignorance of the Dean. Dr. Rakesh moved his hand and tried to divert the topic but the Dean laughed loudly and held the old man's arms and said, "Uncle, I guess you have lost your memory too. He is Dr. Rakesh and I am the Dean of this hospital and who else can know him better than me. I have been seeing him since his college days. Who is the escort of Uncle?" Manzur came forward and replied, "Yes Sir, I am Manzur. He is my father." The Dean told, "Manzur Saab, just tell your father who is this gentleman Dr. Rakesh or Dr. Salim." He looked into the eyes of Dr. Rakesh and stammered in a low voice, "He is Dr. Rakesh." Then, the Dean laughed loudly for a few seconds as if he had won a battle. The old man felt cheated and threw the medicines from the bag. He shouted, "You all are trying to befool me. You have played with my emotions and Allah will not forgive you. I have served Allah for forty years as a Maulavi but nobody had ever cheated me like this. Allah is watching everything. He will punish you all." There was complete silence in the ward. Manzur stood bending his head while Mumtaz feared worse. The old man pushed Manzur and said, "You don't deserve to be my son. Get lost out of my sight! I am not going to step into your house anymore. I would prefer a dying orphan than staying with you. You are a saitan." Manzur had no words to reply. Dr. Rakesh walked towards the old man and hugged him tightly and said, "Uncle, what does it matter, if I am Dr. Rakesh or Dr. Salim. I am Dr. Salim for you and Dr. Rakesh for the rest of the world. My profession is a doctor and my religion is humanity, that's what I know. Our religions have no colors. If I have done any mistake and hurt your emotions, I beg your forgiveness for my sin. Just punish me but not your son. It was I who changed the name to treat you." The old man tried to loosen his arms but Dr. Rakesh held him tightly. Manzur added, "Abbajaan, you were unconscious for two days and it was Dr. Rakesh who saved your life. It is because of him, you are alive and able to talk to us. He is next to God." Tears rolling from the eyes of Abbajaan were unstoppable and he tried to hide his face on the shoulder of Dr. Rakesh. The tears were the tears of penance of his own sin that he had committed. He babbled in remorse, "Beta, forgive me. I was about to commit a sin against my own Allah. How can I show my face to Allah?" Dr. Rakesh mopped his tears with his handkerchief and caressing on his back said, "Uncle, now you are fit and nothing would happen to you. Just do one thing. Have chocolates with you and whenever you feel exhausted and running out of energy, just bite it a little." In the meantime, Rekha reached there too and said, "Uncle, had you smacked a piece of chocolate I gave to Manzur Bhai on Raksha Bandhan, you wouldn't have to come to the hospital." Manzur introduced her, "Abbajaan, she is Rekha, my colleague in the bank and my sister. She had only tied this thread on my wrist." He showed his wrist proudly to all. The old man felt more guilty and hugged her. Then, he smiled in tearful eyes and loudly announced, "Yes doctor, for me, you are Dr. Salim and you are most welcome to our small home. Now, I have two sons and a daughter."