Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Losing God

The rich don't want to reduce crime, said Almas to Farhat while fixing her bra.

You know, if only we bring Khilafat to Pakistan, everything will be fixed. We already tried democracy. It has failed, responded Farhat with conviction.

Annoyed with the idea, Almas asked if it was ever possible to decide what sectarian leader would be the best choice and what kind of Shariah will the government follow.

You know what, this is your problem. There's always some silly concern of yours. Everyone is a Muslim here, and those who are not, will become one, once they see how good Khilafat is, explained Farhat.

You missed the whole point of my question. I did not ask about other religions, but different sects, Almas said, at which point her friend became angrier and accused her of derailing the debate.

Almas and Farhat are two political science students at University of Karachi. While Farhat belongs to a rich business family, Almas's mother is a nurse. Her father was a transvestite in the dark of the night and a clerk in the day. She grew up in a family where her mother prayed and father danced. They lived a happy life, until one day her transvestite father had an overdose of faith and disappeared on a Sehroza.

That was the beginning of her disbelief. Soon afterwards, her father sent a written request to his wife, asking her to quit work and believe in allah. Confused, Serena wrote to her husband asking what was wrong with him. And how will she survive with 5-year-old daughter without any money. "She will start going to school very soon," she reminded.

The response was a choice between allah or divorce. Serena chose the latter. She had become a Muslim in name only when she married her husband, knowing that he was a cross dresser. But for Almas, that was a nightmare. In the day, her mother worked and appeared to be fine, but as the night drew closer, she would start with a bit of tears here and there, till the house echoed with muffled screams and sobs. Serena was alone, since her family left her for not just marrying a Muslim, albeit a cross dresser.

"One day, you will come home crying. It is only now that he is okay with you being a Muslim on paper. Wait for a few years and you will know these Muslims never keep their word. And this one is also half woman." Her mother's words kept playing on a loop in her head.

It reminded her of Samuel William, the man who claimed he loved her since she was five and he was 30. He was the man who made her think all men around her were bad, and so going out of the community was better. It is never what one thinks it will be. A bed of roses. Almas knew religion was not as beautiful as everyone thought it was, but she still, for the sake of it, continued to believe in the unseen. This unseen being was the one that helped her in times of trouble. She always thought at least she had someone to blame when things went wrong, not her mother, but god, allah, or bhagwan as Geeta said.

"Let’s go for pooja today, we have moc holy as well, you may feel better Almas," Geeta asked her dejected friend. A neighbour and childhood friend in Essa Nagri - a place where citizens had ghettoized those from minorities. Almas was too exhausted mentally to go anywhere, but she complied.

"I need to find a job Geeta. Soon, or my mother will die working. She has tuberculosis now," she said sadly, remembering the last time her mother hid her handkerchief from her. She knew that even the free TB clinic could not do much for her. She needed rest.

Geeta worked as a receptionist at an ad-agency, the only thing she could do was get her in as a file girl, which was odd because in almost every office, that was a male dominated field. "Why don't you talk to Farhat, your rich friend?"

"I cannot, she's pestering me to be a good Muslim. In her opinion, everything will be alright once I embrace Islam. Her kind, mind it," told Almas with a mischievous smile.

"You cannot become like her. Remember the last time I came to your place while she was around? She did not even sit next to me, or on the same chair which I offered for her to sit. And no.... I cannot tolerate it. I'll probably lose you as a friend forever," agitated Geeta said.

Almas thought for a few seconds and dismissed Geeta's fears. "Don't worry, I will find something soon enough. And once I do Amma can rest and take proper medication."

The mandir was a lot of fun. Nobody cared if she was Christian or Muslim or both at the same time. Neither did they worry she was not attired as per the occasion. It was for sheer fun, and that is what she had. Almas, who had a mother suffering from TB and a transvestite father who became a Raiwind Mullah felt liberated when Geeta threw colour at her. Life can be good, she was filled with hope.

It was all short lived though. Like those soap bubbles that the guy at the signal sells, whose life is a like a bubble too, where hope swells like a hot-air balloon when a car arrives, and pops like the soap bubbles. When she reached home her father was beating her mother. He had come back after 15 years and wanted to take the reins of the household back in his hands.

His first question as Almas stepped inside the house was if she went to meet the Kafirs. Followed by a slap and a kick. Again followed by an order to say salat. "What is salat Papa," asked Almas innocently, which of course meant another slap for her, "Namaz! Did your mother never teach you?"

"She will not say namaz," yelled Serena, "I raised her a Christian and she will remain so. You were not there for 15 years, so who are you to tell me anything now?"

What followed was perhaps a nightmare. Serena was declared a blasphemer. Almas was devastated, but being poor, she had nobody to listen to. Farhat refused to help her mother as well. "I am sorry Almas, but blasphemy is an important issue and your mother insulted the Prophet (PBUH). It is a great sin in the eyes of Allah."

No, thought Almas. If it was a sin in the eyes of Allah, he would have struck her mother dead. "Do you think it is only Allah who is responsible for us?"
Farhat: Of course, who else?
Almas: So why do you have a blasphemy law? Should you not leave it to Allah to take care of the blasphemer, just like you do the killers? Killers can pay qisas and diyat, didn't we read in Islamiat?
Farhat: You are trying to divert the attention from the main issue. If I am not mistaken, you may even be a blasphemer yourself.

This was the end of a three year friendship between them. They never met again, until the day they both died together. Years later...

Almas found a job as a researcher and Geeta remained a receptionist. Serena went to jail and her husband went on tableegh.

“Good morning babe,” the annoying manager said, and as usual Almas went on towards her cabin as if she heard nothing. The routine was old, but it still bothered. Wishing the guy gets fired, she continued with her underpaid job, where often salaries did not come on time. The advertising agency’s owner lived in Dubai mostly, so of course, it was understandable he needed more money than his researcher. She suffered in silence hoping things to get better, if not financially, at least emotionally. But if wishes were horses, she would be a CEO.

The day her harasser turned out to be the owner’s nephew, who was to be the COO in a week’s time, she realized fate is bitch, and so was hope. Womanizer in private and volunteer at the charity for helping acid attack victims; abusing his workers, but member of a workers’ rights party. She contacted her extremist father for help. She lost god, but was a good Muslim now, wanting justice from a blast, where at least her old lost friend was with her.

No comments:

Post a Comment