The Fear Within
The Fear Within5 mins 307 5 mins 307
Afzal Khan who is lovingly known as 'Khan Chacha', has been living with his entire family in Old Delhi's, Chandani Chowk since generations. Khan Chacha lives with his mother Umaira, son Jamshed and his son's wife Nasmun. Some say that his family ancestry goes back to 1857's first war of freedom during which his forefathers has fought against British army.
Khan chacha's sweet and tea shop is a major landmark in the streets of Chandani Chowk. It's as if many a conversations and gossips converge here at his shop and then get redistributed in the narrow lanes. Every day he becomes the observer of many people's sorrows and happiness. However, there is something that's bothering Khan Chacha from within which he can’t share with anyone.
'Abbu will you have tea", Nasmun asks after Khan Chacha has come back from the shop in the evening.
"Abbu what has happened to you these days. You always look so dejected. Yesterday you didn't have kheer also and today you are saying no to the tea. Are you okay?"
"Yes, I am fine."
"No Abba, you are not" says Jamshed. "Tell us what has happened".
"What is there to tell. In fact, I don't even know how to express myself. Jamshed you tell me when was the last time you saw a Hindu take sweets from our shop?"
Jamshed started to think and in no time realized that his father was raising a fair question.
"Forget about all that. We are still able to make business out of the sweets that we are selling. How does it matter if Hindus are buying or not buying?"
"No son. It does. It does matter who is buying our sweet and who is not. I want my sweets to reach our Muslim brothers' during Eid and Hindu brothers during Diwali. It should become a way of celebration during Nikah and during shaadi. For decades, I have seen the Muslims and Hindus talk to each other and exchange their sorrows and happiness in the courtyard of my shop. That sight was much sweeter than the sweet in my Gulab Jamun and every time I saw that I thanked Allah that I am born in this country. But since some time, I am noticing that their numbers are dwindling. Last week Jaikishan Bhai had Jagrata in his home, but he didn't take sweets from us. Every year we have been supplying him with sweets, but this year he did not take from us. I understand that elections are going on, but elections have happened before as well. It never affected the bonds between people.
"This is happening since the time the new government has come into power. People have stopped trusting each other. No one knows when will someone attack you for being who you are. Moreover, this is election time. Situation is even more sensitive" said Nasmun.
Just as she said this, the TV channel flashed a news.
"The ruling party president has said that if his government comes back to power then they will implement rules to give citizenships to Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. Those who are not eligible for the citizenship will be deported,
This is the clip of one of the ministers of the ruling party".
"Brothers and sisters. Since centuries Hindu community has faced attacks from all kinds of people. From those who had come from outside and from those who have lived amongst us. But now enough is enough! It is time to rise against these traitors who are a threat to our national security, our community and our identity.
It is time that we send these traitors to Pakistan once and for all! Jai Shri Ram!'
There was silence in the house. No one moved a muscle. Everyone was stunned after what they had heard.
" Are we becoming outsiders in our own home? will we be thrown out of here"? said Jamshed in a voiced laced with fear.
Then came a soft yet strong voice from behind, "No we won't!"
Everyone turned back to find the old lady of the house standing behind them.
"Ammi, why did you get up from your bed. Doctor has said that you should not."
"It's fine. It's fine. I also wanted to know what is it that's bothering my son. So, I came here and was listening to everything. Let me tell you something. I have heard the same kind of speech before also, not now but 72 years ago in this very city. I was just 12 years old and Abu took me to the Jantar Mantar ground to hear a big leader of Muslim League speak about the future of Muslims in this country. I clearly remember what he said the leader said.
"This is not our country. We have been oppressed by the Hindus for a long time. If we continue to stay hear then we will have to live under their oppression. It is time that we unite and protect our identity and support our religion and support Pakistan"
"My Abu grabbed my hand and stormed out of that ground. You know what our Abu said? He said that "we have fought for the independence of this country alongside Hindus since centuries. This is the place where Khan Gaffar Khan, Ashfaqulla Khan and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azaad worked with their Hindu counterparts and kept country before anything else. They showed us how important it is to stay united. How can I leave my beloved country where my forefathers have shed their blood?"
" Afzal, I am telling you this country is great. Its philosophy is beyond these minions to understand. This nation has stood the test of time. Many voices have come and gotten lost in the well of history. Nothing can possibly divide us. People like my Abu were wise in 1947 and they still are wise. They will see through the veil of hypocrisy and hate. Those who could throw us out couldn't achieve it 72 years ago, then who are these people? Relax, there is nothing to fear.
Just then helper from the shop came running.
"Khan chacha, there is a customer in the shop. He wants Moti choor ladoo. He is saying it's urgent"
"Ask him to come tomorrow. I will open the shop early"
"He is saying he won't be able to make it tomorrow. Also, he is a Hindu."