Jihad

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Nov 26, 2009 – Early Hours

He had been trying to sleep unsuccessfully for many hours and just ended up turning from one side to another on his rotten charpai. It was not that he was accustomed to better comforts, having slept on this same bed since eternity. It was something else that was making him uncomfortable - those sounds that kept resonating in his head trying to tear it apart. One word that kept repeating itself in a constant loop behind this loud rattling of the local cleric, sent shivers down his spine – ‘Jihad’, he had said.

His eyes were wide open as he watched the old fan, hanging on the worn off ceiling, turn ceremoniously, pretending to send down cool gushes of air though the only thing it produced was a deafening clutter. But tonight that clutter failed to reach his ears, rather mind, as it was already preoccupied with the words he had heard last evening.

We have kept quiet for so long that they think we will take all their rubbish without uttering a word. When I see a young baby at the circumcision ceremony, I feel ashamed of myself. How is this personal hygiene of any use to him when the whole environment around him is so unclean? What future are we giving him? 

We, cowards who have born each insult and each wound inflicted upon us like good for nothing bastards. We have to give our children a future where they are not afraid of the tyrants. We have to make them proud of us. If in children we see the Almighty; then for these children, in His name, we need Jihad.

That last word that Maulvi Sahab had said so forcefully in that small dingy room kept echoing in his mind since then. Three men were assembled there as Maulvi gave them further instructions.

Just as his eyes closed and he felt his mind getting a bit lighter, the alarm rang. He got up in a flash. But realising that he is too tired because of a sleepless night, he reclined back against the wall which felt moist due to the constant seepage.

He was half awake and half asleep when he heard the cantor calling through the loudspeaker of the nearby mosque – “Allah hu Akbar.....

“Shit,” he said and sprung up instantaneously. There was no time to take a bath, so he quickly washed his hands, mouth, nose, arms, face, ears, forehead, hair and feet, thrice in the prescribed order and jumped onto the mat, facing west. While he performed the holy ritual, he remembered how his Abbu used to say that namaz should be rendered in a clean environment. Standing in this dilapidated room, he asked Allah for forgiveness.

*

We are still awaiting justice in Gujarat while their Chief Minister, the man behind all this, is winning elections and making merry. One year ago, our brothers from Pakistan took upon themselves to avenge the insult we have been facing all these years. We have to show that even we can stand up against the injustice and oppression inflicted upon us. 

We have planned this meticulously and finally it is the time to execute it. This will be our first anniversary gift for our enemies. Let them see that for each mujahedeen we lose in this war, ten more will take birth to avenge his death.

It had been one year since the dreaded terrorist attack in Mumbai. He remembered what hue and cry it had created. No one cared when countless Indians died here and there but this time those who died were either special Indians or firangis. Even the Union Home Minister who had successfully clung to his chair despite the number of bomb blasts that had occurred last year across the length and the breadth of the country, had to finally yield. Such was the power of these special Indians and their firangi guests.

Maulvi had chosen this day to execute a sinister plot. Now, even he had a role to play.

“Should I? Shouldn’t I?” the ambivalence was killing him.

As his table clock ticked its way towards the destined time, he remembered the words of his Abbu, ‘Jihad is a struggle to improve one's self and society. It is as much about fighting injustice and oppression as about spreading or defending Islam.

He knew he had to do it.

**

Nov 26, 2009 – 0700 hours

Time was running out, so he decided not to prepare the breakfast and instead, grab a vada pav on his way. As he moved down the rickety staircase of his chawl, he saw some children idling around. ‘They should be getting ready for their school at this hour,’ he thought. But then reminded himself sceptically, ‘What talim could those four walls of a sarkari school provide them, without any teacher!’

He continued moving along the dirty lanes, cautious not to step onto any heap of garbage. As he reached the barricades, he looked back at his abode; a ghetto was what people called it. Located on the suburbs of the city, this was one place where most of the people like him landed up after leaving their hometowns. He had come from the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, made infamous in the recent past by the arrests, encounters and killings of many alleged mujahedeen who hailed from there.

Today the barricades were not blocking the way as was the usual case. In any other housing society of the city, a beautiful arch would have adorned the entrance but here the local police had been kind enough to save the money of the dwellers by putting up barricades and a police post instead. It wasn’t clear whether these protected the homogeneous insiders against any violent excursions of the outsiders or to keep a tap on the movement of the insiders themselves.

In financial terms, he could have managed a better accommodation at a better place but in this city, there were also some other unspoken yet clearly audible factors which decided who could live where.

We are made to live like dogs on our own land. The glorious days of Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire are gone. These infidels think that they can stomp us at their will. They have the support of our own disoriented brothers like the DGP of Maharashtra Police, who wag their tails in front of them. 

It’s the time to make them aware that the dogs also bite. With the blessings of the Almighty behind us, tomorrow is the day when we will finally initiate our jihad.

**

Nov 26, 2009 – 0900 hours

Immersed in his thoughts and the words of the cleric, he didn’t realise, when the local train reached  the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, one of the busiest station of Mumbai as well as India. He hardly had 30 seconds to unboard the train. Somehow, struggling his way through the microcosm of humanity, he just managed to jump off, as the train trudged further. ‘How can I behave so irresponsibly at such a time,’ he cursed himself.

As he stepped on to the platform, the images from the past year flashed in front his eyes. It had been one of the eight places that came under attack that night. Around 50 of the total 170 casualties or so were reported from here. But no one cared to give airtime to the Indians who died here except flashing the shots of Ajmal Kasab and his accomplice entering it.

They were busier reporting about Taj, Oberoi and Nariman House where the special Indians and firangis resided. He remembered the blood spilled floor of the passenger hall, images of which were made available by a local lensman who hid himself in a stationary train compartment.

‘Soon there will be similar blood and silence of death not far away from here if everything goes according to the plans of Maulvi Sahab,’ he thought.

*

He left the station hurriedly for his destination, about 2 kilometres away. He headed south, swiftly along the Dadabhai Naoroji Road and then got off it, moving along variously named streets and margs until he reached the Shahid Bhagat Singh Road. ‘Next, will you even start naming public toilets when nothing else is left to commemorate your leaders,’ he sighed.

He had just started tiring a bit due to the sleepless night, empty stomach and a brisk walk to top it all, when he saw a sprawling building on his left. It was one of the surviving remnants of the British Raj, like many other buildings and edifices around here including CST which he had left just twenty minutes ago. That station used to be Victoria Terminus until 1996 when some Hindu zealots forced a name change. ‘The bloody name game,’ he cursed.

Now he faced this heritage building, a beautiful specimen of the Indian Gothic style of Architecture, looking at the beautiful sculpture of Neptune that adorned the pediment at its top. The blue basalt used in the facing with differently coloured natural stones detailing it, imparted an incredible polychromatic effect.

This building, originally conceived to commemorate the visit of Duke of Edinburgh in 1870 was finally inaugurated six years hence as the residence for Royal Alfred Sailors. Later in 1928, it was acquired by the British Government and became the seat of the Bombay Legislative Council in late 1930’s. However, since quarter of a decade, it was housing something else after the Legislative Assembly moved to the new Council Hall in 1982.

He stood there acknowledging its beauty as he had done every time, he passed by. But today, he was not just going to pass by but enter this building. Finally, the time had come. So with thumping heart, he took some indecisive steps towards the entrance of Maharashtra State Police Headquarters.

**

Nov 26, 2009 – 1600 hours

There was hustle and bustle in the hall as the media persons tried to grab a strategic position. The conference table lying on the raised platform was being decorated with colourful mikes from all the possible English, Hindi and other regional news channels. Even some foreign correspondents were present. After all, this was the first media briefing since the major event that had happened earlier in the day.

As all seemed set, the Police Commissioner stepped in amongst flashing cameras and the buzzing noise of the media persons. It had been a busy day for him but he looked as fresh as ever. He was one man who never allowed the city and its (mis) happenings take a toll on him. As he sat on the central chair of the conference table with his subordinates flanking him on the sides, he motioned everyone to maintain silence.

“In the morning as I reached my office in Dadar West, I got a call from the Maharashtra State Police Headquarters. I urgently rushed there. A person had arrived, claiming to have information about a planned bomb blast to take place at Regal Cinema nearby, later in the day. Upon arriving, I took the charge. He claimed that he had heard a cleric having the final discussions with some men in one of the kholis of his chawl.

“We moved swiftly on the basis of the lead given by him and within a couple of hours had arrested all of them without spilling any blood in the process. Luckily for us, they were amateurish in their approach, not having any links with the organised terrorist groups as per our initial investigations. Nonetheless, if they had succeeded in their plans, it could have led to major loss of life and property.”

“Where is this informer?” demanded the reporters in a cacophonic chorus.

“He is with us right now.” and with that Police Commissioner gestured towards a subordinate standing at the back entrance of the hall. Soon a man with his face clad in a black mask entered the hall. He looked around and took some wavering steps towards the vacant seat of the conference table.

He had just moved some paces when the hall got filled with reverberations of hundreds of hands clapping together, hailing the hero who had just arrived. His remaining steps were beaming with confidence.

“What gave you the courage to do this?” asked the Reuters correspondent, as he took his chair.

He paused and looked around nervously through the small parting in his mask. He suddenly felt the comforting hand of the Police Commissioner on his left arm and then a pat on his back.

“Well, when the bullets flow out of a terrorist’s barrel or splinters blast off from the bomb, they don’t know whether they’ll be piercing a Hindu’s or a Muslim’s flesh. The blood that flows is that of a human being and with each such wound inflicted, my country cries further.

“My Abbu used to say that Jihad is a struggle to improve one’s self and society. Today, our society is rotting due to this unwanted hatred and we are losing our self to an unholy war. It’s time we wake up and realise that an eye for an eye is not the solution. We all are in this together and have to sit down to sort out any differences which exist. What I did today was what any responsible citizen would have done.”

As he stood up and got ready to leave securely as motioned by the Police Commissioner, he added calmly looking around at the gaping media persons, “For my Allah and for my Country, this is my Jihad.”

***

Note:
  • The definition of Jihad (as given by the protagonist's father) is a non-verbatim adaptation of the definition given by the scholar John Esposito.
  • Pro Deo et Patria is the Latin phrase translated to ‘For God and Country’ in English. It is the motto of my beloved school – St. John’s High, an Irish Christian Missionary school.

Disclaimer:
This work of fiction is not intended to malign any individual or community. The readers are requested to extract the positive message out of it rather than searching for any negativity within the words and expressions used.

Image Courtesy:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com (edited)

Dear reader, I have been diagnosed with ACDS or Acute Comments Deficiency Syndrome. My condition is critical and deteriorating day by day. The Doctor has recommended me a high dosage of comments to stay alive. So, if you took out time to read this post, be kind enough to take out some more time to leave a comment. Your few more moments may add few more moments to my life. May God bless you and your blog.

39 doses of compassionate comments received.:

Shruti said...

AWESOME IS THE ONLY WORD FROM ME!!
This is toooo good...I can say this is your best post i have read till date!!

U are awesome vipsy, taking such a delicate subject and doing complete justc!

Am the first to comment!

Ravan said...

dude...ultimate... i actually felt it happening...:D

take a peep on my blog in few minutes to read my take on the topic

Roshmi Sinha said...

Excellent piece. I think this is one of your best! Congratulations in advance... for a 'Spicy Saturday Pick' :)

PS: I'll come out with my take on this... both 26/11 and 'terrorism'... in a few days.

Madhu | INDImag.com said...

Beautiful Post Vipul. It was an amazing read and had me gripped. Hope this is the jihad we hear more often -- the right one..

narendra said...

this time it was really long (and i was warned ;)) but let us say this length was worth it..it didnt go waste!!a nice ending i must say!really gripping and good flow...almost a mini novel :)
i think this is inspired by the book lashkar..(if not even then this post remains authentic in all senses..:))

anyways nice post to have on your blog during the 26/11 anniversary! i hope i could do at least half of this!(i mean i couldnt write a word..:()

nice ..have a nice day..

Vipul Grover said...

@Shruti.. Yup, u r frst 2 cmmnt girlie.. three cheers 4 u :p
Well, evn i felt this gonna b my best wrk.. so thnx 4 putting the seal on it :)

@Sid.. Thnx buddy.. um happy i cud generate that visual effect.
Will b on ur blog soon :)

@Roshmi.. lol, thnx.. bt these days blogadda has categorised me as 'frequent tippers' nd um afraid i'll jus gt a mention and not a pick ;)
Luking fwd 2 read ur take!

Vipul Grover said...

@Madhu.. Amen!
Thnx buddy for visiting nd appreciating this post :)

@Narendra.. hey thnx a lot buddy :)
Well, don't know about lashkar but yeah parts of it are inspired from writings of Dan Brown, like the detailed explanation of Mumbai State Police HQ's where I have explained both the architecture and history.
U too have a gr8 day :)

Shilpa said...

Superb!!! Narration was the best, and the end, i seriously did not see this coming.

Oh! and by the way, simple words but powerful impact on reader is the only quality i adore in writers. Good one...
all the very best.


:)
shilpa

Ekam said...

Awesome! I also feel the same that this indeed is the best till now from you,as said by others.

Shilpa Garg said...

A very gripping and amazing post!!
And all I would like to say to this Jihad is AMEN!!

PS: You should do away with this word verification in the comment section!! Needless and cumbersome!! :)

Vipul Grover said...

@Shilpa.. Hey thnx girl for those sweet wrds.. um happy u acknowledged the twist :)

@Ekam.. Thnx so mch. Um elated :D

@Shilpa di.. Thnq :)
Well, I hav added tht wrd verification bcoz of spam cmmnts I startd receiving off late!

Dhiman said...

This is indeed the best of all your posts... You have excelled the 'hype' in your previous post.... the end was something I too didn't imagine ....

Vipul Grover said...

Hey thnx Dhiman dada.. The motive behind that ending was to send a deeper meaning - that of ugly 'stereotyping'. Um not sure if the readers could grasp that message!
Thanx for the appreciation of both the hype and the actual product :D

swati baweja said...

amazing vipul...

Apurva said...

Fantastic-- gripping with a positive twist at the end. You should think about writing a fiction, thriller type book if you haven't done so already.

aativas said...

Reminded me of the film 'Wednesday'. You have good story telling skills.

Bharathi said...

Excellent post pal. you made me envy, why I didnt think like this. I believe, my 'Intellectual Blogger' award, suits you the best.

And, yeah, I made a mistake of postponing my reading to some other date seeing the length.

SushJ said...

gr8 story, fantastic ending. reminded me of Wednesday. All the best for your future works.

Tavish Chadha said...

I think there is very little for me to say here... its absolutely brilliant... loved the last line there... yes the length was very long by worth it... truely worth it....

Cheers!
Tavish
http://tavishviews.blogspot.com

Vipul Grover said...

Hey thnx Swati for such an amazing comment!

@Apurva.. Thnx for that kind appreciation man.. Writing a novel is definitely on my 'to-do list'.. Keep returning to this blog :)

@Aativas and SushJ.. Thnkyou so mch both of you.. Comparison with sch a movie is itself a gr8 complimnt :)

Vipul Grover said...

So Bharathi mamu finally got the time.. definitely pass me all the awards u want to :p
Thnx for this cool review :)

Hi Tavish.. welcome to this blog. Thnx for those appreciative wrds. Keep reflecting nd encouraging the writer in me like this :)

neeraj said...

A very very very very serious take on the issue - terrorism! I am aware that one cannot really write such great post without proper understanding and thoughtfulness about the topic! You are a vivid thinker, and you have proved that several times Vipul - via. your posts! I appreciate your thinking style and dedication with blogging it out! You are already doing a great job with Blog-a-ton!
Nice to have you in my blog roll Vipul! Blog On...

Vipul Grover said...

Hey Neeraj.. man um speechless because of sch a kind review of my story nd appreciation u showered on my writing and viewpoints! Thnx a lot buddy.. keep this faith in me :)

evanescentthoughts said...

TOO BRILLIANT :) this is indeed your best post. I wanted to read this so badly, finally took out some time to read :) You have tried to convey such a positive message through this post. I hope more people read it

Renu said...

very good post!

Vipul Grover said...

Hey thnx Ash, um happy u cud finally read it. Evn i hope more ppl read it.. for tht matter read all my posts :P
Thnx again for appreciating my effrt :)

Hi Renu, welcome to this blog. Thnx for the kind words. Keep reflecting :)

Sandy said...

Simply amazing post!!

Vipul Grover said...

Hey thnx Sandy.. keep reflecting!

nkr4068 said...

I thought the one i read earlier about the last call was the best one but this one was just AWESOME!! No more comments. This is Great! :)

Vipul Grover said...

Hey thanx Naveen.. I am happy u visited and read this post.. Thnx 4 appreciating my effrt.. keep reflecting :)

Nilesh said...

Only if we had few more fanatics with softer heart, and more courage to give up their idologies!

Vipul Grover said...

Well Nilesh, um afraid u got the plot wrong.. the protagonist in this story wasnt a fanatic but js a prsn who happnd 2 hear the cnvrsation of the propagators... the story was built in order to make u feel tht othr way...
Thnx for reading and reflecting anyway :D

foolwise said...

The Last call prompted me to read this... as you had personally claimed that this was a better story according to you!

It is unique and awsome... and what not! It was wonderful to be on the winding ride... surely you have a thing for fictions! the blog and the posts rock... I am going to share this to my friends!

nsecashish said...

a post worthy of applause .. :) i wish it wud nt b ur best post....may u get better in every post :D

Vipul Grover said...

@Foolwise.. Thnx a lot for sharing this post. I am happy my claims could match ur expectations. Do read other fictions too and give ur worthy feedback :)

@Nsecashish.. Well friend u cn tell tht for urself by reading my recent short stories (this one is a year old now).. Thnx a lot for dropping by and appreciating my work :)

Priyanka said...

Vipul

This was after 'The Last Number Dialled'

This time I don't car about being boring. I loved your perspective on the issue, so well put too.

The research you must have done, I can't imagine.

But then, I liked the other one better. This IS a hard-hitting story and that just fiction but still. But this may also be due to the fact that I get emotional about stories like that with unrequited love, pain of separation and losing loved ones.

I'm promoting this also though=)

Vipul Grover said...

@Priyanka.. aaahh.. mushy mushy love is also my cup of tea :p
Well, if u want to read one in 'frst person' as u said in the othr cmmnt u made, do read 'Wish' on this blog. I hope u'll like it too :)

Unknown said...

Really beautifully written. Grabbed my attention and kept me hooked. One of the best posts I ve read in aaaaallll the blog hopping I do.
Beautiful!

Ashwini Ashokkumar said...

Really beautifully written. Grabbed my attention and kept me hooked. One of the best posts I ve read in aaaaallll the blog hopping I do.
Beautiful!

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