A cloudless morning woke me up. Faizan took me on his bike for breakfast. We had tea at Varma ji’s stall. Went to the University travelling on 740 and 615. Had lunch with Srajana and Anisha. Met Shiv Sir. Went to his house. Had a nice discussion on the literary scenario of Kannada. Got a pat on my back from him. Listened to his talk on ‘Pre-Modern Indian Aesthetics’ at the philosophy center. Met Srajana again. Had tea. Saw three peacocks while having tea. Went for a walk. Sat under a tree near chacha Nehru’s statue in the campus. Saw Sanil and Gopal Guru. Came back home traveling on 615 and 740. Before coming home had dinner at Balco market. The day went fine. Now sitting at home, listening to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, reciting his own poetry, i ask myself, “Wasn’t this the day which we feared?” Yes, this is the day. 24 September 2010.
Discussions and debates had begun at home among Faizan, Shoaib and me from the beginning of this month about the Ayodhya verdict. Fear had not yet knocked the door. Friend Himadri had sent an e-book which enveloped several scholarly articles on the subject of Babri Masjid and Raam Janmabhoomi. This added to our discussion. Neeraj called and started discussing the issue with Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Raam Ke Naam in the center. Fear knocked the door for the first time on Sunday the 19th. After watching the documentary Ayodhya Gaatha, we were almost about to have lunch when Faizan got a call saying, “Firing near Jama Masjid.” Having no television at home kept us in dark about what exactly the matter was. We thought it was a precursor. Internet was not working. News unavailable as to what exactly the matter was. We feared it was a precursor. I quickly messaged some friends to watch tv and inform what the matter was. Ruhi confirmed that there was firing. So did Divya Lad. Prithvi called and asked, “Is it because the Ayodhya verdict is nearing?” while confirming that there was firing.
Heartbeats were growing fast, echoing in every breath of ours. We started discussing if we Shoaib and Faizan should go to the office on 24 or not. Should i go to the University or not. There was silence in every word that we spoke. A fear filled silence. We had lunch and then Ruhi sent a message saying, “Minor blast at the same spot near Jama Masjid.” Fear increased. We sat silently for a while. I said, “You both go open the door is Muslim fundamentalist groups come and if Hindutva people come then i will go open the door.” Though we laughed at this, we knew that it was a serious plan. In a state of fear i wrote a poem, “Zamine Hilney Lagi, Rooh Kaampne Lagi…” That day passed.
The next day i woke up when a truck passed near our house. I heard some people crying slogans. I woke up in fear. I ran out to the balcony to see who they were. The truck had gone far. I couldnt see who they were. I stood there listening to my own heartbeat which was i dont know beating or shivering. After a while i came in. Sitting on the bed i started wondering what future had in its womb. Suddenly i realized that it was my cousins birthday. I called her early in the morning. After i wished her my aunt took the phone and started speaking. When i told her how we spent the previous day, she asked me to be careful and not go out on 24. My dad called me later to ask if we were fine. He must have gotten to know about the firing and the blast only while reading the newspaper. My mom was worried and so was my dad. While speaking to them, i remembered Mangalore and Udupi, about which i was not able to think because of the over powering fear. I asked my dad not to go out on 24 because i know that Mangalore-Udupi is extremely sensitive. I remembered all my friends in Mangalore and Udupi. Fear had seeped in so much that i started thinking, if i will see all of them when i return or not.
Tuesday passed. Wednesday arrived. Neeraj called to inform that Headlines Today was screening Anand Bhai’s film Raam Ke Naam on Wednesday and Thursday. It was Thursday. Smita Kaikini messaged asking us to get food, in advance, for two days. Rahmat Tarikere sent a lengthy sms on communal harmony. Anand Bhai sent a message about his film being screened. When i called my dad to tell him that the film is being screened he said, “Karnataka is very tensed. Holiday has been announced on Friday and saturday.” When i called a reporter friend of mine in Mangalore he said, “We are all tensed. Looks like something is going to happen.” That night i called Aravinda. He said, “Be careful. Delhi is quite sensitive.” I said in return, “you too be careful becaue Hyderabad is also sensitive.” While going to sleep from a distant past i heard the voice, “jump jump jump…” It was the voice of Mariyam, my dear friend Abid’s younger sister. She was around 3 years old when she was running all around the house saying, “jump jump jump…” memory of which is still fresh in my mind. I remembered her, i remembered Abid, i remembred Abid’s mother. I remembered all those victims of communal violence whom i had met as a reporter…
Thursday morning Faizan, while leaving for office said, “please get maggi and other eatable stuff for two days.” Fear was in air that we were breathing. As i was typing down my research proposal i started it by saying, “My generation has not seen any progressive movement. All we witnessed was the regressive Ram Janmabhoomi movement. As i saw the movement hammer democrasy and humanity i always wondered why we do not have any strong left movement. This question drew my interest towards this research topic which i want to explore.” As i was typing my proposal Ruhi sent a message saying, “Judgment postponed.” What a relief it was…. But it did not take much time to realize that it was just a momentary relief….
25 September 2010