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A little child said it...

Sadiq Sahib sat near the door, urging us all to eat, when suddenly his little son danced in waving a plastic sword and climbed on his back, shrieking in play, as children will, “Jai Shri Ram! Jai Shri Ram!” Renuka Narayanan elaborates.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2008 00:01 IST
Renuka Narayanan

The other day, Sadiq Nizami, a custodian of Hazrat Nizamuddin’s dargah and direct descendant of Hazrat Ali, kindly gave me tabarruk (prasad) from the langar. The tabarruk was two huge fat rotis made of atta and besan, like a missi roti, spiced with mirch-masala-dhania. They were wrapped in an Urdu newspaper. When I took it around the shop floor (HT Editorial) I couldn’t help noticing how the Hindus and Sikhs broke off little pieces with sincere reverence, touching their eyes, bobbing their heads with instinctive respect for Nizamuddin’s prasad. Some of them even had a second bit for it tasted very good and was moreover, blessed food, coming as a gift from a holy man in the name of God (I saved the last tukra for Ashiq, our colleague from Kashmi who is a ‘peerzada’, himself).

Earlier, I had gone during Ramzan to Sadiq Sahib’s home courtesy my friend Murad and had a fabulous time. There was really nothing, you know, not one inimical note or worse, false heartiness, in that space to indicate that Hindus and Muslims were ‘enemies’ in India. The group around the long dastarkhwaan in Sadiq Sahib’s house was almost fifty-fifty H and M .

Many wonderful things were happening around it, besides the mind-blowing food we expected to eat for and after iftar. A handsome man and a beautiful woman sitting across from each other suddenly got talking of their wedding plans. It was the first time it seemed that their friends had heard of it and there was a rustle of goodwill around the cloth. They and several others went off to do namaaz and when they returned, the food arrived in delicious plenty. Sadiq Sahib sat near the door, urging us all to eat, when suddenly his little son danced in waving a plastic sword and climbed on his back, shrieking in play, as children will, “Jai Shri Ram! Jai Shri Ram!”

A sudden silence seized the group. At first everyone was too taken aback to speak, not knowing how to react. I remember blurting something like, “My God! This is India, everyone nicely mixed up!” There was laughter and a few nods and then we were diverted by the serious business of eating up all that good food.

Some of us talked about that electrifying moment, later. You could look at it two ways, we thought. The obvious negative way was to lament how politics was all-pervasive. The better way, to our mind, was to see it as ayat, a Sign from God.

Namaaz had just been said and there were several breaths fresh with prayer in that room, during a holy month special to a holy book. And at that very moment, an innocent child had spoken aloud another Name that still refreshed the hearts of believers despite all the misuse, just as the Qur’anic suras were an abiding refuge for many, though misused by terrorists.

The little one, all unknowing, had gifted us a ‘God is One’ moment, pure as his child’s heart.