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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.




Story: An insight into conversion


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    One wonders at times, if individuals are in the habit of peeping into their family history. More importantly their family tree as a giveaway to their posterity. Well if they are, they would surely know the names of their ancestors beyond their Grandfather. That is grandfather’s father and even his father and also his father’s father.

    It is widely believed many Muslims in India have converted from Hinduism. And that makes me wonder how the present generation of Muslims deal with their forefathers and ancestors who were Hindus. With love or with hate? This is an emotional topic, that is often thought of by inquisitive individuals but never spoken about. Not even in the serene and quiet corners of their homes. Also, the society in general doesn’t want to dig into this tabooed adventures, and so be it. Yet, there is an undying inquisition at times to know more about such happenings.

    Let us as a hypothesis think about a person named Brij Singh, son of Prakriti Singh, who some two hundred years ago converted into Islam and named himself as Shamsher Khan. If we were to take sixty years to be as one ‘generation’ then that would mean. This would be Shamsher Khan’s fifth generation as a Muslim, flaunting their surname as Khan. Let me further suppose that one out of the current descendant of Prakriti Singh is Amjad Khan, who knows about Prakriti Singh as part of his ancestry.

    Then my inquisition would run further wild. As I would like to fathom from Amjad Khan as to how he deals and feels about his ancestry. Does he have any feelings for Prakriti Singh and Brij Singh, the last Hindu mark in his long lineage. And whether, he is proud and fond of his Hindu forefathers and his lineage. Or has he grown up hating them or revering them or thinking it is a zone where he should not enter. And, last but not the least, if it is a stalemate issue beyond Amjad Khan’s comprehension.

    Often the friction point is the religion of a person. But can religion wash away the truism off an individual’s lineage is the big question. Answer of which is only to be felt by the individual in question and never to be spoken about.

    Perhaps, this remains the weakness of mankind. Where, when, one is bulldozed by religion he gives up on his lineage. While, one may cosmetically try and overlook his lineage over his religion, but it is difficult to wash away the truism of life.

    And if the theory of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) is not a myth, we definitely reach a point, that the world is but one family. Even if people may have converted into various religions and your lineage is a bliss and not a curse.


By Kamlesh Tripathi




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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:


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    Today, once again, early in the morning I was woken up by a phone call from Sukhwinder Singh. He is a Granthi in a Gurudwara in Faridabad. But he also happens to be my friend, in the abstract spirits of comrade-in-arms. It appears he has a satellite connect with God and is able to figure out. When, over a period of time my entire self goes into a depression, thinking about my younger son, whom I lost some six years back. And just then he calls up.

    He doesn’t understand English and I can’t talk fluent Punjabi and so we make the most of it in Hindi. His occasional calls pep me up but I am not sure if it’s the other way round too. And, unlike most Sardars he is short and stout and often wears a saffron patka. We came together in life because we both share the curse of losing our sons in a space of a week.

    It was sometime in mid-February when I had admitted my younger son, when he was towards his last in a hospital in Faridabad for palliative care, where I found Sukhwinder’s son also admitted for liver disorder. He was in serious state, around twenty years of age; and the next day he expired. Our rooms were adjacent and so I had enough opportunities to picture and frame him in my mind. And, upon the sad and untimely death of his son, that afternoon, I walked across to his room and paid my deep sense of condolence. Thereafter, in a ballooning bundle of grief, he along with his wailing wife, family and the body of his son left the hospital.

    I was feeling sad for him. But I too wasn’t far behind. As my tragedy too, befell upon me within the next four days. I was thereafter on leave for a couple of weeks. And when I resumed office. Every morning I used to drive past a Gurudwara where one day I spotted Sukhwinder. I stopped my car and went up to him. Just to ask how he was, and quite frankly also to discern, better or worse than me. He was looking the other way when I put my hand on his shoulder. He turned around and without wasting time, I reminded him of the hospital and politely enquired about him, post his son’s death. He could recollect me in seconds and asked about my son. I gave him the tragic news. He sounded hurt. I decided to leave after a brief chat, but he ordered for a cup of tea. And our friendship thus began.

    Since that day till the time that Gurudwara was on my way to office, once in a while we used to meet over a cup of tea and he used to narrate quite a few invigorating episodes from ‘Granth Sahab’ and ‘Gita’ that helped me tide away, and soften my tragedy.

    It is now more than six years we continue as friends and we make it a point to talk to each other at least once a month just to share happiness and sorrow, and probably one day when we stop receiving calls from each other one of us will know the other has kicked the bucket.

    Our world is full of affinity, when it comes to being from the same religion, sect, ethnicity, language and food. But after I lost my son I realised there is also an affinity that takes birth out of unusual tragedies in life. I and Sukhwinder had similar tragedies leading to a very unusual experience in life not known and felt by many, and that brought us together.

By Kamlesh Tripathi