The tragic drama enacted in Mumbai last November is half over; the second half is yet to come. The curtain to the first half has been drawn by the star performer Mohammad Ajmal Amir aptly surnamed Kasab, the butcher. He and nine of his co-murderers killed over 171 Indian men and women, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, as well as half a dozen foreigners within a few hours. They destroyed property worth thousands of crores and virtually brought tourist traffic down to a standstill, depriving many more thousands of their daily livelihood.
All it took was Kasab admitting to his crime in open court and pleading to the judge that he punish him for what he did. There can be no doubt that his confession was voluntary and no kind of pressure was put on him to do so. He must also know that the only punishment for a crime of this magnitude is to be hanged by the neck till you are dead. The judge very wisely delayed pronouncing the sentence to give Kasab a chance to retract his confession. However whether or not Kasab does so, he has put the noose round his own neck. No tears will be shed for him.
The second and the more important part of the tragic drama remains to be enacted. Kasab has named several Pakistanis and an Indian Abu Jundal as co-conspirators. There are likely to be more than one Indian involved in the elaborate and meticulously carried out carnage of innocents. Now it is up to the governments of Pakistan and India to prove that when they say they will co-operate in stamping our terrorism they meant business and not empty talk to befool the world. Let us see how rulers of the two countries play their roles.
I have happy memories of evenings in the Mohans’ house in Siri Fort, Khel Gaon. VP Singh was a frequent visitor both before and after he became Prime Minister. Next door lived the eminent painter Jatin Das. His now famous and beautiful daughter Nandita was still in her teens. I often caught a glimpse of the father and regret I never saw Nandita and am unable to drop her name as if I had known her since she was a child.
The reason I am nostalgic about the Mohans is the recollection of sparkling conversation with VP Singh, followed by a gourmet feast of Kayastha treats, the likes of which I had never tasted, ending with Deepmala singing ghazals mainly Ghalib and Faiz. One in which she excelled was the full-throated and animated rendering of Hafiz Jalandhari: Abhee to Main Jawaan Hoon.
Lucknow-born and bred Deep Mala learnt to sing at the Bhatkhande College of Music and belonged to the Delhi Gharana. After she married Mohan, a strapping, tall Cavalry officer, she settled down in Delhi. She switched her loyalties from singing ghazals to folk songs in Bundhelkhandi, Avadhi, Bhojpuri, Polvi and Braj. She can be often heard on radio, TV and in concerts. She is also member of the Film Censor Board, headed by Sharmila Tagore. Our contact was renewed recently when she came to give me her latest cassette. She does not know I’ve got very hard of hearing.
Ever since they passed the law
To legitimise same sex love
Old controversies start to bubble
Traditions are in trouble
Maulvi, pundit and priest
Join heads in utter disgust
What a beautiful country is mine
Its unity difficult to define
Where people who over trifles fought
Have become so over wrought
Over one of nature’s faces unblessed
May same sex lovers be blessed
Against whom we are all brothers
And on whose behest
We forget the temple and mosque.
(Contributed by Sami Rafiq, Aligarh)