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HARIJAI SINGH PART 4

It was quite a task for

It was quite a task for the hosts to organize my vegetarian meal. Well, I enjoyed this drill. At least it was quite a mental drill for the hosts to get themselves familiarized with vegetarian meal. Of course, in India vegetarian food is no problem in Hindu homes and at hotels and restaurants. It is a different story in Muslim homes. A week went by. Another three days, Zaheer and I were scheduled to be US-bound for our work. For me, the send-off from the Indira Gandhi International Terminal was quite a relief – from too many to just two of US. Zaheer’s mother, Saira Begum, took me aside and said; “You see the difference. You can feel for yourself what it is like to be a Muslim, belonging to Allah, Prophet Mohammad. You must practise all the rituals as a Muslim girl. No deviation. Otherwise, Allah will never forgive you”. I just nodded my head. I know there is no point in joining issues. Silence is golden in such situations which might not be in tune with your thinking. “Take care of Zaheer as a good wife. Don’t forget”. “Yes. Amma,” I said with a smile. 151

CHAPTER 43 With an understanding husband, in New York, I have left Saharanpur behind. Life is as usual – home, my parents, friends on and off the campus, thesis work in a somewhat new perspective, my guides, debates, interaction, freedom to breathe freely, think freely with no spying eyes of clerics. New York has its own ethos. Everything gets lost in the mad race to work, business, academic searches, research and highpowered global debates on rights and wrongs of the international order at the UN headquarters here. Where is then time and energy left for mundane affairs of life? Life is a never-ending movement. In such momentum, months passed by, making a year. Exactly a year after my “nikah” came the lightning bombshell of 9/11. Amidst the devastating debacle of the twin towers, symbolic of a new post-Second War globalism, everything was topsy-turvy. Islamic terrorism had hit America’s symbols of democracy, peace and prosperity. Suddenly, the 9/11 feeling of “I don’t sense any fear in being Muslim at all” disappeared. Grieving Americans were caught in the grip of fear after the attacks of September 11, 2011. “How could anyone carry out such an assault” by hijacking four US airliners and killing nearly 3000 people after flying them into the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon?” they all wondered. Suddenly, the Americans were face to face with terrorists right at their doorsteps. And they found villains in Muslims, Arabs and anyone who looked like different -- the terrorists! 152

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