Monday, May 7, 2018

Communal Everydayness - the case of a Muslim Bakery boy

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Kaleidoscope has adopted a healthy lifestyle of late. He wakes up early and goes for a walk everyday. On his way back he usually stops at a nearby store and buy milk and curd. Since, he usually is the first customer he spends some time watching the shop owner arranging the shop neat and clean. A young boy with a bakery van appears everyday. He arranges all the bakery stuff neatly, writes the details in one of the pieces of discarded cardboard and makes the shop owner understand the details of the deal.

There are two to three people who roam around the shop - adding some words to a typicality in Kaleidoscope's everyday morning. This bakery boy is a Muslim by birth. One day he expressed his desire to a halt in the series of Kalbaishakhis - the seasonal thunderstrorm that keeps Bengal cool during the early phase of summer in April-May. This year there were too many of them, and this boy wanted to stop it. Quite contrary to Kaleidoscope's urban desire. of course, kaleidoscope wanted more of such Kalbaishakis to take place so that the temperature does not rise too much. Well, of course, both Kaleidoscope and bakery boy know their desires cannot do anything to the weather. Kaleidoscope was curious to the bakery boy who was already sweating.

Kaleidsocope: "Why do you want Kalbaishakhi to stop? see you are already sweating like anything!"
Bakery boy: "our farmland is water logged because of this, we wont be able to have a good harvest, it it continues to remain so"

Before Kaleidoscope could ask anything the shop keeper said:
"How much more money do you need? You are earning here, and also you are earning there"
he continued
"what is the point of earning, you people are going to give the money to the terrorists!"
The shopkeeper stopped with a smile.

Kaleidoscope didn't know what to say. He was awestruck for a moment and then replied:

"What makes you think that he will donate money to terrorist organisation? do you have a proof for that"
Shop keeper: "They are Muslims. It doesnt require a proof"
Kaleidoscope was angry now
"How can you declare such a strong judgement against him without any proof? This is not done"

The Bakery boy intervened
"let it go dada, what people say is not true. Saying anything doesn't make you that person. We listen to so many such comments that we don't mind it anymore"

Bakery boy left, and the shopkeeper continued "You dont know he was increasingly involved with religious fundamentalists, his father brought him back from them!"

Kaleidoscope asked "What is your opinion about the seven day long Kirtan that is being organised in our locality for last few years? Isn't that fundamentalism?"

Shopkeeper: "You know they are planning to extend it for fifteen days from next year..."

Kaleidoscope met that boy another day. The shopkeeper's younger brother continued to tease him for a person belonging to Muslim community was caught with illegally smuggling rotten meat from dumping ground - a news which is of central attraction for last few weeks in West Bengal.

The Kaleidoscope met him once again at a crossing near his locality and asked:
"People say so many things to you why don't you protest?"

He replied something that moved Kaleidoscope:
"We are minors in this country dada, Majority always humiliates minority. A poor person with minority status should not react to any forms of teases."

Kaleidoscope left the place as the conversation ends. He knows the bakery boy will continue to remain silent, will smile and tell to himself "You are not the one, what others are saying about you."  The question that bothers him is "for how long?" for he knows the power of labeling people and building social constructs around them.

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  1. No doubt your thoughts will encourage humanity. What I am worried about is.... so called Fundamentalism. These occurrences are increasing. Be it in Hindu or Muslim, it works like brainwashing of common people. I don't know how to stop them.

    Best regards,

  2. I do believe someday people will be disgusted with all these. However, for stopping them we need bring these to the public discourse and make stronger arguments whenever possible.