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Sample chapter 3

3. Initial life                                                           

My complete name is Faizan Ahmad Khan, son of Ahmad khan, a Muslim party leader and for your concern, ladies & gentleman, no, I was not so serious since birth but riant, especially in final years of my graduation. I never got my graduation completed, unfortunately, because of the outbreak of the riot in the city then. But I never felt sorry for it may be because collecting big bucks were never my desires. I was always fascinated towards doing something different, something out of the box but never exactly knew what. Talking about my behaviour and qualities, I had every quality that a 24-year-old lad of a rich and politician dad generally possess. I was jubilant. I was crazy. A bit careless and an apple eye for my parents. The only quality that separated me from my parents was that I was a semi-atheist i.e. I was a bit impious in his existence. Sometime I would pray and sometime not. I barely kept fasts and visiting the mosques were seasonal events. Unfortunately, according to my mythical philosophy, God existed only in the minds of hypocrites. And it was these philosophies that sometimes resulted into severe tongue lashes from my father.

“Idiot, fear his vengeance or you will be doomed to hell someday.” 

These used to be actual words from my father to me. Apart from Faizan, I had few nicknames that my father used to address me with quite respect. Some of these were- idiot, jolter head, dumb, shameless and of course his favourite one – ‘useless’. The only shield I had against Abbu was Nanny, my grandma.

She always protected me from his fury saying, “Why do you compel him to obey Allah? When the right time will come Allah will himself make him believe in his existence and show him the right path?”

Abbu did not have courage to argue Nanny but being a clever politician he would always use his ‘emotional’ tactics as his last weapon saying, “I am not his enemy Ammi but he must follow Islam. He has grown up now. People have started talking about his impish behaviour...” But Nanny would cut him in between asking him to give me some space for I could learn myself the ways of life.

But Abbu, he was impatient. He was desperate to see me join him into politics. With a deep breath inside he said, “Allah knows when that time would come. Mark my words clearly Faizan. The day when his patience ends, he’ll wrest from you your most beloved thing of life and that day you will only be left to do nothing but repent. No one would be there to listen to you. You will be all alone and helpless. And the worst thing is that it would be too late to pray.”      

However, for me, these words were simply the daily dose of waste preaches, which should be trashed out immediately after the lecture was over. And immediately when the household melodrama would end I would rush to the then most important thing in my life, my girlfriend Suzanne.
***

And like most girlfriends, she had the same question on her lips, “When will you talk about me to your family?” However, being a son of a politician, I would always give a diplomatic reply, “Suzz the elections are close. I will definitely talk about us to my family as soon as the elections are over but this is not the right time. However, before we do that, I have something special for you in my pocket...here let me take this out…this is for you Suzz.”

I know… but I was doing nothing new. Often to suppress any such issue, we men have to gift something to woman that is bigger (or costlier) than that issue. Most of the time it is jewellery or any other precious gift, but, we often do it to cover the real debate and get rid of answering daily to woman’s never ending questions.

“This is to symbolize my love to you and lady may I take the liberty to wear you this ring to your finger” I told Suzanne and she was delighted with the surprise. Perhaps they always do.

After the meeting, we both went for a small ride. We were happy and I was satisfied with the proceedings of life. I could see no ice burg in my way. No obstacles. Just a plain and straight happy life – find a job, get married and live happily. That was my plan for future. Huh! How wrong I was? I never understood that life is never certain. It’s always on the verge of a new turn.
***
Meanwhile as we were passing by the road we observed few protesters making some anti –Muslim slogans in respect to elections. Suzanne always disliked politics. Hence, with an angry look she said, “Why do these people disturb the peaceful environment of our country? What do these people want? I don’t understand. Why cannot they concentrate on just their religion? Why?” Perhaps it showed her vacuous knowledge in politics that led her easily get provoked. My thoughts were rather implicitly insulated from the word ‘politics’ and ‘religion’. However, I did care about human lives and ethics. 

I replied to her politely, “No Suzz it is not like that. These people are neither Hindu nor Muslim, not even common. They are politicians. They only care their interests. They fuel such issues to fulfil their political ambitions. Believe me. After all I myself am a son of a politician.”

She smiled and asked, “So you are telling me that even your father is a wrong person. Are you against of your father’s ways Faizan?” I sighed and replied her negatively saying, “I am not against my father but his ways are sometimes beyond my comprehension. That is why I hate politics and keep away from it.” Perhaps she could understand that I was quite honest and innocent and bear no qualities of a politician.

Before I proceed further, I would like to give you a glimpse of the political scenario of the city I lived in. Saharabad, a city full of communal tensions and hatred. History had it that none of the communities Hindus or Muslims here lived in peace and a kind of cold war always existed between them. My father was a political leader of a Muslim party. He in many ways hated Hindus even more than he loved his own religion. He also had a political rival, surprisingly not a Hindu but a political giant,  Younis Khan, a secular party leader who supported Hindus not because he respected them but to earn Hindu votes. Fortunately or unfortunately, Saharabad was a Muslim dominant area with my father having the major impact and hence most of the time it was him who emerged as the winner. And needless to say that this fact was the biggest annoyance for Younis Khan who could clearly see his career drowning with the dominance of my father over the city. Since the elections were near an atmosphere of political tension could be observed in his camp too.
***

“Sir this time too, Ahmad Khan looks very strong. We cannot bear to lose to him again. Should he win this time we will definitely suffer huge economic losses. It would be his third in a row if he wins. We must do something and as fast as possible,” said one of the ministers of Younis Khan who was restless about the repercussions of the election.

“He is right we must win this election either by hook or by crook,” said another minister adding fuel to his restlessness.

Younis Khan himself was in panic over the issue and so he asked his ministers to do whatever it could take to win him the elections. It would have been his third consecutive defeat if lost. He was frantic enough to do ‘whatever’ it would take to win.  

It is a bitter truth that often in politics peace is shattered for political benefits of one single man. It never matters which political side is the beneficiary, common people are always at the losing side. Be it the age of kings and kingdoms when millions shed their lives to save the glory and throne for one single man, the king, or be it the present time when pre-planned fake communal riots are done in which millions of innocent lives are screwed, again just for the political ambition of one single man, the politician. It is always the common ones who suffer. Something similar was going to happen in my life and I was completely unaware of the silent storm that was slowly approaching towards my peaceful life. Meanwhile as usual in the political seasons, Saharabad also observed political rallies, speeches, promises, boastings and stuffs like those. The heat was at its peak. Both parties did not miss any chance to accuse each other on various political issues. The attempt to gain the confidence of common mass was just fuelling the cold war. For both the parties it was like a knockout match – if not now then never. 

Time passed as usual and voting was done. Elections were over, can’t say peacefully but somehow it was over.               

Meanwhile one day at home Ammi caught me red handed talking to Suzanne on phone.

“O.K. Who is she?” she inquired with a different version of smile on her face, hands folded round and a kind of glitter in her eyes.

I was nervous…and reluctant to confine everything to her at first instance. “No one Ammi. Just a friend”. My hands were trembling and the face had turned pale with shyness which she had already perused.

“Just a friend?... Faizan you can tell me. I am your mother after all. Now come on tell me do you like her?” she asked me as she could clearly notice the grin on my face.

“She is my colleague, Ammi …you will not understand”, I paused for a moment but unmindfully confined everything.

“Fine, I think I am in love with her and ...”

“And?” she enquired with twinkling eyes.  

“…and I want to marry her .”

Initially my mother stared at me but eventually the scary look turned into a smile and further she started to laugh at my edginess.

“It’s all OK Faizan. Why are you so nervous?” She hugged me and promised that she will talk to 

Abbu about this. Nevertheless, to add to my relief half war was won and it gave me a little respite. But the next hurdle was the real obstacle- my Abbu himself.
***

At night, while serving the dinner, Ammi quietly raised the question, “Don’t you think our son is now mature enough for marriage? I think now we should start searching a right girl for him. What do you say?”

Abbu replied astonishingly (in a hard voice) “Marriage? And that too of him? ‘Mr Useless!’ Huh! ”. 

He continued chewing his piece of mutton.

A livid Ammi instantly came into my protection and responded fiercely to sour his dinner. “Why? Have you planned to keep him bachelor all his life? And what is wrong in my son? He is smart, good looking and let me tell you I know a lot many girls who die at him, huh.”

Abbu stared at me surprisingly and murmured, “Girls die at ‘him’? What’s wrong with them?” he said as my sibs who were sitting beside giggled as well.

Ammi stared at him and responded even more cruelly. “What did you say? And leave everything aside and explain to me what do you actually mean?” My father soon realized he has done no good to himself and has only invited troubles using words against me. Soon Nanny joined Ammi and the ladies backed me good enough to make Abbu finally pull his hands up on his irking behavior regarding my wedding. Laxity in other matters could be tolerated but she was in no way ready to give him any relaxation in escaping ‘this’ particular responsibility. He finally surrendered before her adamance.

“No I do not mean anything Resham. But you know its election time and I am too busy right now.”
Ammi instantly turned soft on him and replied, “Elections are already over now. Only results have to come. In shah-Allah, you will only win. And I am not asking you to set the wedding tomorrow but we can at least see the girl and meet her parents.”

I kept myself isolated from the talk and simply behaved peaceful like a good son, like, eyes low and mouth shut. However, my heart, it was throbbing 172 times per minute.

Abbu thought for a while, looked at me, smiled, and said, “So it seems that both mother and son have already chosen the girl…hmmm.” He paused, smiled and continued, “Ok I would like to meet the family tomorrow at the breakfast. But right now just forgive me coz I’m too tired and going to sleep”. He said as he yawned and left.

I gave a little smile of appreciation to Ammi. But from inside, a whole wave of tsunami, full of craziness splashed inside me. I still remember that day when I gently went into the room, closed the door and then jumped onto the bed, and shouted as loud as I could, then somersaulted wildly to almost shatter my own bed and behaved as wild as you would have done when India won the world cup in 2009.
***

However, the life of these happiness were quite short as the destiny had some other plans for me. Perhaps for everybody. Everything looked good until that fatal day - the day of results. General counting of votes began and after half counting of votes, Abbu was leading with fair margin. This news bewildered Younis Khan as if his worst nightmares were about to come true. Name, fame, money, luxury and a 30-year long political career. Everything was on the line. Moreover, with debts in millions he would have been compelled to live in fear of being tortured, if failed to pay. The fear of losing everything made him insane. He murmured anything all the time along with a causal agony attached with the fear.   

“This is not good. This is not good,” reiterated a sweating Younis Khan trembling in agitation.
Junaid Khan, one of his party member and a very wicked mind person said, “Sir, this is not the time to chant our mistakes but to do something. We must act quickly.”

“Junaid…my friend” Younis Khan earnestly requested, “Do anything, anything but just make me win anyhow”.

Junaid Khan replied, “Sir with all due respect, why not we rig the polls.”

Younis Khan turned dumbstruck hearing this from Junaid Khan. Junaid Khan continued, “Yes Janab, you’ll have to admit that we cannot win honestly. We are bound to take the indirect route. We must loot the booth or expiate for our dilly-dallying”.

“Shut up! It’s not 80s now. Are you mad? If we are caught, we will lose everything we are left with. Moreover, we would be imprisoned for such act. It is too risky,” responded Younis Khan fiercely.

Junaid Khan replied, “No Sir it’s not. We will not indulge in it directly rather we’ll spread communal rumors and create a fake riot. Once we successfully accomplish that, the rest is just to take advantage of the mess while the police shall be busy in controlling the riot”.

“Riot?” asked a perplexed Younis Khan “Will it really work? Should we attempt it?”

Junaid Khan was a bit overwhelmed convincing Younis Khan. He replied, “Janab please… we do not have time to think. Now or never.”

Younis Khan knew that he has no other option. Moreover, he did not have enough time to think. He had to decide something before the counting was over. Huge financial debts, pressure from party members, lenders and other powerful people plus the fear of existence in politics. All these fears complied up to mount enough fear which consumed his wisdom to compel him to take a vicious decision and unfortunately, he did. Ignoring the gravity of his evil decision he reluctantly agreed to go along with Junaid’s suggestion irrespective of the repercussion and effect on innocent lives.


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