By Kamlesh Tripathi
Just as terrorism—Help, too, doesn’t have a religion. It can come from any corner. But unlike terrorism, that kills. Timely help sustains life. I had once gone to a hospital in Delhi. To meet parents of some poor young children who were suffering from cancer. The drill was to provide them with direct financial support, for treatment.
In all we had met about ten children and their parents in the hospital. Our NGO decided to support three out of them. Based on, certain illness criticalities, doctor’s recommendation and the budget available with us. Out of the three. One child happened to be from Sopore in J&K. His name was Abdul. His father’s name was Fareed. Who, happened to be a small-time shopkeeper with a paltry livelihood. Abdul was suffering from cancer for the last one year. And, during that period Fareed had exhausted all his savings. Although, he had received timely aid from the government. But that too had been gradually spent. Slowly the resources were receding, while the treatment was still in full flow.
When I met this bright child Abdul. I found him in an animated mood. As he was talking to his mother in Sopore over phone. He had come to Delhi for treatment without her. I spent some time understanding the challenges of Fareed. Then decided to give him the good news of our supporting his son’s treatment. Up to a certain level. But he didn’t sound enthused about it.
First, I thought he hasn’t understood me. So, I repeated what I had told him earlier. This time I spoke in Hindi. But still his reaction was not at all cheerful. I then specifically enquired, if he had understood what I had said. To which he gave me this shocking reply. ‘Janab, I have understood what you’ve said. You want to pay for my son’s treatment. But yours is a Hindu NGO. So, how can I accept money from your Trust. That too for my son’s treatment? It might not cure him at all, and Allah won’t spare me.’
For a moment I was shocked. I didn’t know how to react. Does religion lay down crude boundaries at such junctures? I thought dismally. But without being deterred. I opened my bag and wrote a cheque, and handed it over to him.
He held the cheque and looked at it morosely. I patted his back a couple of times. When his eyes went moist. Perhaps, he was at a break point. Where, on one end, was the health of his son and the mounting expenses because of that, and on the other, were his own self created radical diktats. Which, he was trying to blame it upon his religion.
I said, ‘Fareed Bhai this cheque is neither Hindu nor Muslim. It’s only a piece of paper from Upparwala, for your son. So utilize it.’ And then I moved out.
After the episode. A couple of months had passed. But that cheque never came to our account for debit. It was only when the cheque was about to expire. I received a text message from the bank debiting it to our account.
And upon reading the text message. I felt nice. Not because Hindu money had helped a Muslim. But, because Abdul had realized. That help has no religion or face. It is infinite and can come from any corner of the world. And it is absolutely divine to take help. But the source has to be right.
It is a true story. Names and location are fictitious.