A small mosque in a nondescript corner of this city is a playground for three-year-old Rishu.
When all the 'rozedaars' line up in the mosque and offer namaaz, Rishu finds the spaces between them like a maze. He loves getting lost in the maze and emerges with glee. None of the devotees finds his antics distracting.
In fact, all the devotees at this mosque pray for Rishu’s life during this holy month of Ramzaan.
Rishu, a Hindu boy, has a hole in his heart.
At his age, he does not know that his heart has a hole. But the day his father came to know about it, he abandoned his son and wife Sangeeta Singh. The family lived in Lodipur Sharifabad, Haidergarh, in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh.
Rishu’s father, a daily wage earner vanished to Dehradun to work in a soyabean factory and remarried.
One night, six months ago, Sangeeta’s in-laws too ousted her with the child. She had lost her parents in childhood. Without money or hope she came to Lucknow. She visited several hospitals. Finally, the Balrampur Hospital examined the child and referred the case to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS).
And in a twist of fate, someone took her to the Amber mosque a kilometer from the institute, suggesting that the mosque could help her bear the expense of a costly surgery on Rishu.
Shaista Amber, president of the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) brought the mother and child to the mosque and began struggling for them. On her insistence, the Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Singh Yadav wrote to the Prime Minister's Office. The officials sent her Rs 50,000 from the PM's relief fund.
Rishu needs more money for surgery on his affliction -- a complex congenital heart disease.
“Actually, the hole is just one problem in this complication. There are three other associated problems. The corrective procedure is one of the most high-risk operations,” said Dr Nirmal Gupta of SGPGIMS, who is to operate on Rishu on October 29. Dr Gupta is counted among the world’s top pediatric heart surgeons.
Shaista Amber said: “There is no dearth of prayers but we need money too. We are trying to raise more. I wish people come forward to help.”
Rishu has become the cynosure of all eyes at the mosque. Everyday, he awaits 'roza iftaari' time (breaking of the fast). This is the time that 'rozedaars' vie with each other to give Rishu dates and other things to eat.
Shaista said once it so happened that a Hindu woman gave birth to her child on the mosque premises. Some priests started saying the mosque had become unholy. “I thought the childbirth at the mosque made it even holier,” she said.
Sangeeta did not speak much but said: “Allah must save my boy.”