7 months ago


Looking back

Looking back dispassionately, I found Muslim Americans went from being one of the least targeted religious groups in the US to hate crimes against all those associated with Islam . 9/11 was a second big shock of my life after the 1947 Partition days in Karachi. All those positive perspectives about Islam then underwent a change – from its humane facets to the emergence of sinister faces. I found myself in a state of shock. So were Zaheer’s feelings. He too was shocked as he found that his privileged existence as a Muslim might get threatened. The only saving grace for him was his Indian identity, Indian passport and all Indian links which do stand out here. For me, I was doubly blessed as Hindu and Indian. My “nikah” was just a formality; an experiment in my marital existence. Suddenly I too was conscious that I cannot flaunt my Muslim credentials after the “Nikah”. I found Zaheer in deep introspection. He did not share with me what was going on in his mind. I could feel that some fear of the unknown seemed to be bothering him. Maybe, some change in the work atmosphere. Maybe, some perceptible change in his colleagues’ attitudes towards him. I know his Indian credentials were near to his heart. He was never a fanatic Muslim. He was liberal, humane, understanding and tolerant of other faiths. Well, that was the reason why I am his life’s partner. Of course, I know life will never be the same in New York. Everything will change. I do not know whether the change will be for the better or worse. I keep my fingers crossed. 153

CHAPTER 44 For days I found Zaheer in a terrible state of introspection. He would not talk much. His replies to all my questions would be yes or no. I was terribly upset. One evening I confronted him. “Zaheer, this is no good. You must come out of this state of introspection and depression and face the realities with a total clarity of mind. Share with me at least the conflicting thoughts in your mind. You can’t treat me like an outsider. Please do speak out, for Allah’s sake”, I insisted. “Yes. I shall tell you everything”, he told me. “Is everything fine in the office, with your colleagues?” I asked him. “Yes. The office is OK. They continue to respect me for my professional skills”. “They know I am different”. “They know I am a liberal person, and not part of Islam’s radical brigade”. “They know I treat religions as an individual’s matter of faith and practice”. “Still, I find some tension in the atmosphere”. “I wonder how things take shape tomorrow.That is what I have been brooding about, without finding a light at the end of this post 9/11 terrible tragedy”. 154

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