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Alif: Chapter 3: Yin and Yang

To read the previous chapter, please click here.

June 27th, 2015
8.25 AM. GUJARAT, INDIA

The morning sunlight peered through the shattered windows of broken buildings which were still burning as a little Muslim boy pushed his broken bike past an electrical appliance store. In it, the television sets were still turned on and a visual of various famous figure’s speeches about Peace and Hope were playing.

The boy stopped and stood as he listened to a visual of Martin Luther King Junior’s speech about his dream on one of the television sets which were on display at the window display. Amazingly, no one had looted it yet. Maybe because it was an old model but the old idiot box made up for it with Martin Luther King’s voice booming.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. I have a dream today.”

He swallowed, took a big breath and continued;

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Martin Luther King’s face was replaced by the face of Gandhi and his voice is heard at the background as he is seen sitting, weaving a cloth. His voice booms as nearby pigeons fly away into sky;

“I do not believe that an individual may gain spiritually and those that surround him suffer. I believe in advaita. I believe in the essential unity of man and for that matter of all that lives. Therefore I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent”

The little boy stood as he listened to the masters of the past, feeling the irony of the situation as Nelson Mandela is seen on the screen now delivering his Inaugural Speech;

“Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!”

As the audience clapped and roared with approval, a tear fell on the little boy’s face as he pushed his bike on, past burnt buildings and smoking stalls as a result of the religious clashes that took place last night in the streets of Gujarat.

The little boy’s name was Alif. Mohamed Alif. And this is his story.

***

June 27th, 2015
3.25 AM. HEATHROW AIRPORT, LONDON

“How is mother doing?” A young Indian man spoke on a public phone booth at the busy airport. His voice soft but firm with concern. Behind him, a news reporter for the BBC is seen delivering a news about the religious clashes that took place just hours earlier at Gujarat, India on the nearby television set.

“Okay, listen, tell mother I’m taking the first flight back to Gujarat okay? Tell her I’m coming.”

Just hours before, this young Indian man took a few days off to visit his mother. He got panicked when he saw the news report about the religious clashes that broke out while he was on the way back from work in the train. He phone his boss explaining the situation. Thankfully his boss understood and obliged. Next to him, a local asked him, “Is it normal? These sort of things happening in India?”

He couldn’t explain because he never really knew the answer. He knows it happens ever so often, but he doesn’t know why it really happens.

He placed the receiver and sighed. He was going home finally.

This is Kumar Desai. This is, his story too.

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