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BOOK TALK: MERCHANT OF VENICE by William Shakespeare

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MERCHANT OF VENICE

By William Shakespeare

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

    Merchant of Venice was written sometime in the 16th century. Since then. Several plays, shows and even movies have adapted this timeless play.

    The main characters of this drama are as follows:

  1. Antonio—A prominent merchant of Venice.
  2. Bassanio—Antonio’s close friend, a suitor of Portia and later husband of Portia.
  3. Gratiano—Friend of Antonio and Bassanio, who is in love with Nerissa, and later husband of Nerissa.
  4. Lorenzo—Friend of Antonio and Bassanio, who is in love with Jessica, and later the husband of Jessica.
  5. Portia—A rich heiress, and later wife of Bassanio.
  6. Nerissa—Portia’s waiting maid—in love with Gratiano, later wife of Gratiano, disguises herself as Stephano.
  7. Balthazar—Portia’s servant, whom Portia later disguises herself as.
  8. Shylock—A miserly … Jew moneylender and father of Jessica.
  9. Jessica—Daughter of Shylock … later wife of Lorenzo.
  10. Tubal—A Jew, and a friend of Shylock.
  11. Launcelot Gobbo—Servant of Shylock, and later a servant of Bassanio, son of old Gobbo.
  12. Old Gobbo—Blind father of Launcelot.
  13. Leonardo—Slave of Bassanio.
  14. Duke of Venice—Is the authority who presides over the case of Shylock’s bond.
  15. Prince of Morocco—Suitor of Portia.
  16. Prince of Arragon—Suitor of Portia.
  17. Salarino and Salanio—Friends of Antonio.
  18. Salerio—A messenger from Venice.

PLOT

    Bassanio a young Venetian (from Venice) of a noble rank wishes to woo the beautiful and wealthy heiress Portia of Belmont. Having squandered his estate, he now needs 3000 ducats to tide over his expenses as a suitor. So, Bassanio approaches his friend Antonio, a wealthy merchant of Venice who has previously and repeatedly bailed him out. Antonio agrees, but since he is cash poor—his ships and merchandise are busy at sea to Tripolis, The Indies, Mexico and England. He promises to cover a bond if Bassanio can find a money lender. And that’s how Bassanio turns to the Jewish moneylender Shylock and names Antonia as the loan’s guarantor.

    Antonio has already antagonised Shylock through his outspoken antisemitism. His habit of lending money without interest forces Shylock to charge lower rates and that irritates him to the core. Shylock is first reluctant to grant the loan, citing abuse that he has suffered at Antonia’s hand. But he finally agrees to lend the sum to Bassanio without interest upon one condition: If Antonio is unable to repay it by the specified date, Shylock may take a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Bassanio does not want Antonio to accept such a risky condition. But Antonio is surprised by what he sees as the money lenders generosity and he signs the contract. With money at hand, Bassanio leaves for Belmont with his friend Gratiano who has desired to accompany him. Gratiano is a likeable young man. But he is often flippant, overly talkative and tactless. Bassanio warns his companion to exercise self-control and the two leave for Belmont.

    Meanwhile in Belmont, Portia is awash with suitors. Her father had left a will stipulating each of her suitors must choose correctly from one of the three-caskets—one each of Gold, Silver and Lead. If he picks the right casket he goes to Portia. The first suitor, the prince of Morocco, chooses the Gold casket, interpreting its slogan, ‘who chooseth me shall gain what many may desire,’ as referring to Portia. The second suitor the conceited prince of Arragon, chooses the silver casket which proclaims, ‘who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,’ as he believes he is full of merit. Both suitors leave empty handed, having rejected the lead casket because of the baseness of its material and the uninviting nature of its slogan— ‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.’ The last suitor is Bassanio, whom Portia wishes to succeed, having met him before. As Bassanio ponders his choice, members of Portia’s household sing a song that says that ‘fancy’ (not true love) is engendered in the eyes with gazing fed. Bassanio chooses the lead casket and wins Portia’s hand.

    At Venice, Antonio’s ships are reported lost at sea. So, the merchant cannot repay the bond. Shylock has become more determined to extract revenge from Christians because his daughter Jessica eloped with Christian Lorenzo and converted. She even took a substantial amount of Shylock’s wealth with her as well as the turquoise ring that Shylock was given by his late wife Leah. Shylock has Antonio brought before the court.

    At Belmont, Bassanio receives a letter informing him that Antonio has been unable to repay the loan from Shylock. Meanwhile Portia and Bassanio marry, as do Gratiano and Portia’s handmaid Nerissa. Bassanio and Gratiano leave for Venice with money from Portia to save Antonio’s life, by offering the amount to Shylock. Unknown to Bassanio and Gratiano, Portia even sends her servant, Balthazar, to seek counsel of Portia’s cousin, Bellario, a lawyer at Padua.

    The climax of the play takes place in the court of Duke of Venice. Shylock refuses Bassanio’s offer of six thousand ducats, which is twice the amount of loan. He demands his pound of flesh from Antonio. The Duke wishing to save Antonio but unable to nullify the contract, refers the case to a visitor. He identifies himself as Balthazar, a young male ‘Doctor of Law’ bearing a letter of recommendation to the Duke from the learned lawyer Bellario. The doctor is Portia in disguise and the law clerk who accompanies her is Nerissa, also disguised as a man. As Balthazar, Portia repeatedly asks Shylock to show mercy in a famous speech advising him that mercy is twice blessed—’it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.’ However, Shylock adamantly refuses any compensation and insists very much on the pound of flesh.

    As the court grants Shylock his bond, and Antonio prepares for Shylock’s knife, Portia deftly appropriates Shylock’s argument for a specific performance. She says that the contract allows shylock to remove only the flesh, not the blood of Antonio. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio’s blood, his lands and goods would be forfeited under Venetian laws. She tells him that he must cut precisely one pound of flesh. No more no less. She advises him that ‘if the scale do turn, but in the estimation of a hair, thou diest and all thy goods are confiscated.’

    Defeated Shylock concedes to accepting Bassanio’s offer of money for the defaulted bond, first his offer to pay the bond thrice which Portia rebuffs, telling him to take his bond, and then merely the principal which Portia also prevents him from doing on the ground, that he has already refused it ‘in the open court.’

    She cites a law under which Shylock as a Jew and therefore an alien having attempted to take the life of a citizen, has forfeited his property half to the government and half to Antonio leaving his life at the mercy of the Duke. The Duke pardons Shylock’s life. Antonio asks for his share ‘in use’ until Shylock’s death when the principal will be given to Lorenzo and Jessica. At Antonio’s request the Duke grants remission of the state’s half of forfeiture, but on the condition that Shylock convert to Christianity and bequeath his entire state to Lorenzo and Jessica.

    Bassanio does not recognise his disguised wife but offers to give a present to the supposed lawyer. First, she declines but after he insists, Portia requests for his ring and Antonio’s gloves. Antonio parts with his gloves without a second thought, but Bassanio gives the ring only after much persuasion from Antonio, as earlier in the play he promised his wife never to lose, sell or give it. Nerissa as the lawyer’s clerk succeeds in likewise retrieving her ring from Gratiano, who does not see through her disguise.

    At Belmont, Portia and Nerissa taunt and pretend to accuse their husbands before revealing they were really the lawyer and his clerk in disguise. After all the other characters make amends, Antonio learns from Portia that three of his ships were not stranded and have returned safely since then.

*****

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

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BOOK TALK: TRAIN TO PAKISTAN by Khushwant Singh

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

THE TRAIN TO PAKISTAN

BY KHUSHWANT SINGH

    The summer of 1947 was not like any other Indian summer. The weather that year had a different feel. What was, looming large on the horizon was, communal riots, and precipitated reports of the proposed division of the country into a Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan. Within a few months the death toll had mounted to several thousands. ‘Muslims said the Hindus had planned and started the killing. According to the Hindus, the Muslims were to blame.’

    The riots had gradually spread from Calcutta to north and east and west. In Noakhali, East Bengal Muslims massacred Hindus. In Bihar Hindus massacred Muslims. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs who had lived for centuries in the Northwest Frontier abandoned their homes and fled towards the protection of the predominantly Sikh and Hindu communities in the east. They travelled on foot, in bullock carts, crammed into lorries as the riots had become a rout.

    By the summer of 1947 when the creation of a new state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million people—Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs—were in flight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and entire northern India was up in arms. The only oases of peace that remained were a scatter of little villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. Where, one such village happened to be Mano Majra.

    A tiny place, it had only three brick buildings. One belonged to the money lender Lala Ram Lal. The other two were the Sikh temple (Gurudwara), and the mosque (Masjid). Rest of the village was a cluster of flat-roofed mud huts and low-walled courtyards, which fronted on the narrow lanes. There were only seventy families in Mano Majra a fictional village. Lala Ram Lal was the only Hindu family. The others were Sikhs or Muslims, about equal in number and some quasi-Christians. The Sikhs owned all the land around the village and the Muslims were tenants and shared the tilling with the owners. There were a few families of sweepers also whose religion was uncertain. The Muslims claimed them as their own. Yet when American missionaries visited Mano Majra the sweepers wore khaki sola topees and joined their women folk in singing hymns in the accompaniment of harmonium.

    Even though, Mano Majra was said to be on the banks of Sutlej river. It was actually half a mile away from it. Sutlej is the largest river in Punjab. And about a mile north of Mano Majra. The Sutlej is spanned by a railroad bridge. It is a magnificent bridge—its eighteen enormous spans sweep like waves from one pier to another, and at each end of it there is a stone embankment. To, buttress the railway line.

    Mano Majra was always known for its railway station. Since the bridge had only one track. The station had several sidings where less important trains could wait, to make way for the more important ones. Not many trains stopped at Mano Majra. Express trains did not stop at all. Of the many slow passenger trains, only two, one from Delhi to Lahore in the mornings and the other from Lahore to Delhi in the evenings, were scheduled to stop for a few minutes. The only regular customers were the goods train. After dark, when the countryside was steeped in silence. The whistling and puffing of engines, the banging of buffers and the clanking of iron couplings could be heard all through the night. Apart from this, the blasts of the whistle were also heard often when the trains passed. And in all of this the author has done a wonderful job of describing the village activities. The Sikhs and the Muslims had a cordial relationship with each other until the summer of 1947.

    One heavy night in August five dacoits appeared in the village. And in sync with the rumblings of the sidings of the train, they decided to raid the house of the money lender Lala Ram Lal. They hammered the door with their weapons and after breaking it open they entered. They killed Lala Ram Lal and looted his treasure and fired two shots in the air to silence the village.  While leaving they passed through Juggut Singh’s (Juggia) house who was considered the village badmash and threw a bundle of bangles into his house to make him feel feminine. But since Juggut Singh (Juggia) was not at home they missed the action.

    Juggia was on probation where he was not supposed to leave the village and also report to the police station at frequent intervals. His father was a dacoit who was hanged for his crimes. Juggia had developed a physical relationship with Nooran, a Muslim girl who happened to be the daughter of Imam Baksh the Mullah of the Masjid. Once when, Juggia stepped out in the night, taking all the risk only to ‘make love’ to Nooran in the open fields where no one could see them. They heard some footsteps and went quiet. They saw some five people and could make out they were Malli the famous dacoit and his gang mates. Juggia was shocked. What was Malli doing in his village? This was no time for dacoities when the country was wounded, he thought. And, when, he was about to enter his house, he saw the door was open. Where, several villagers were in the courtyard talking to his mother. He turned around, quietly and made his way back to the river.

    In the bureaucratic circles, Mano Majra had some importance because of an officer’s rest house that was located just north of the railway bridge.  It had a flat roofed bungalow made of khaki bricks with a veranda in the front facing the river. It stood in the middle of a squarish plot enclosed by a low wall. Throughout the winter months, officers arrange tours that involved a short halt at the Mano Majra rest house. There they went for shoots and generally had a good time there.

    In the morning before the dacoity in Mano Majra, the rest house had been done up to receive an important guest. Before the arrival of this VIP the SI (sub-inspector) of police and two constables had also turned up on their bicycles. And soon the VIP too arrived in a large American car. His name was Hukum Chand, magistrate and deputy commissioner of the district. He immediately freshened up and got the SI to his room to start a conversation around some urgent issues over a glass of beer. The obsequious SI didn’t waste any time. He was immediately on the mission to please him. Corrupt Hukum Chand was expecting more than normal courtesies from the SI. That included wine, woman and song. The SI had it all in his quiver. During the course of beer he also started enquiring from the SI about the communal tension and about the convoys of dead Sikhs as they had been coming through at Amritsar. They had a frank discussion. Hukum Chand told the SI about Sikhs who retaliated by attacking a Muslim refugee train and sending it across the border with over a thousand corpses. They wrote on the engine ‘Gift to Pakistan!’

     The sentiments were far from normal on both the sides of the border. But it had not affected Mano Majra yet. The Muslims in Mano Majra were not well to do. There was also a discussion on Jugga. The SI reminded Hukum Chand of his father Alam Singh who was hanged two years back. SI explained, Jugga was in a relationship with a Muslim weaver’s daughter whose father was blind and was the mullah of the mosque and his name was Imam Baksh. In the evening Hukum Chand had his round of whisky along with a dance session by a prostitute who was in her teens and even slept with her. The dark side of bureaucracy and feudalism one could say.

    The morning after the dacoity the railway station was more crowded than usual. Residents of Mano Majra loved coming to the station just for the heck of it. Today the train from Delhi had some special visitors. Twelve armed policemen along with a sub-inspector alighted from compartment just behind the engine. And from the other end of the train near the guard’s van, a young man stepped down. Every bit an urbanite and also looked as if he was educated abroad, and somewhat effeminate, in body language. He was looking for a place to stay in Mano Majra. Soon he reached the Gurudwara where he met an old Sikh who happened to be the bhai of the temple. His name was Meet Singh. He enquired the name of the young man when the young man said, ‘Iqbal.’ ‘Iqbal Singh?’ queried the old man. To which Iqbal didn’t reply. Iqbal could have been Iqbal Singh, or Iqbal Chand or even Iqbal Mohammed. He declared himself as a social worker. He carried his own foodstuff to eat including fish complete with head, eyes and tail and even liquor. Bhai Meet Singh adviced Iqbal not to go out too far in the village as it was bad times. And that Lambarder and Imam Baksh, the mullah of the mosque were coming to meet him.

     The attention then shifts to the money lender’s house, who was murdered the previous night. The dacoits had taken a lot of cash and they say over five thousand rupees in silver and gold ornaments from his women. The murder suspect was now Jugga in whose house the packet of bangles was found that was left by the dacoits. He is soon arrested. Jugga pleads not guilty as he wouldn’t have looted and killed his own village brother but he was not heard.

    In fact the arrest of Jugga also had the okay of Hukum Chand the magistrate. In fact the magistrate had also given the concurrence to arrest Iqbal too, and implicate him in the case of murder. Iqbal had become a matter of suspicion because his undisclosed mission. They both are put in the lock up. But Iqbal had arrived a day after the murder and Jugga could not have killed his village-brother or struck a dacoity in his own village. This makes the authorities feel something is amiss. Which, they will not be able to prove it in the court of law. So they timidly accept the mistake and arrest Malli and his gang from Chundunugger police station.  

    Meanwhile things are hotting up in Mano Majra. One day a ‘ghost train’ arrives at Mano Majra railway station. The entire area along the station is cordoned off. Rumours spread it is a ‘funeral train’ carrying dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus killed in the massacre. Army steps in with some Sikh officers and their Jeeps and trucks. Meanwhile, the local police are commissioned, to go around villages to collect wood and oil. This gives a clear indication, that it is required for mass cremation. The docile villagers, handover whatever is available with them. And after a while all they get to see is the billowing of dense smoke making it amply clear that its mass cremation that is going on. Post this; traumatic rumours spread across the village.

    But even before matters cool of, one day another ‘Ghost Train’ enters Mano Majra. It has no lights. It doesn’t whistle nor does it rumble. The army once cordons off the entire area. Soon an excavator arrives and starts digging a huge pit. The dead bodies are brought from the train and made to rest in the pit—mass burial. After which, the train disappears, as mysteriously, as it had come.

    News spreads that it was the bodies of Hindus and Sikhs brought in the train twice for cremation and burial. Upon reviewing the situation authorities feel another ‘Ghost Train’ can start riots in Mano Majra too. So they decide to shift the Muslim population to the ‘refugee camp’ from where they would be deported to Pakistan. Muslims of Mano Majra are not quite inclined to go to Pakistan as they feel they were born and brought up only in Mano Majra. But the cruel destiny decides that they have to leave. Nooran too, has to leave along with her father Imam Baksh. She comes to meet Jugga’s mother. She informs she is carrying Juggia’s child and therefore if she could adopt her and let her be in her house. But Juggia’s mother is not inclined to keep her, so she asks her to leave for the camp immediately.

    Meanwhile Juggut Singh, Iqbal, Malli and his gang are released from the jail. Iqbal disappears suddenly. But the talk whether he was a Muslim or a Sikh continues. Juggia upon reaching his home learns Nooran had come seeking for shelter at his home but was turned away by his mother. He gets very upset at this and threatens her to kill himself. And by now a young Sikh lad has emerged in Mano Majra. It appears he has come from Pakistan and is full of hatred for Muslims consequent to what he had seen in Pakistan—rape of Hindu and Sikh women and slaughter of their children and men. He is full of fire. He comes to the Gurudwara and provokes the Sikhs to join him for taking revenge. About fifty Sikhs join him as volunteers.

    Next day in the morning, the Sikh lad, along with all the volunteers make a plan. The train loaded with Muslim refugees is likely to start from Chundunugger and by night it will reach Mano Majra. The train has no lights as it being made to move in a surreptitious manner. All along the way they plan to post volunteers with torches who will signal as soon as the train passes them. They plan to tie a sturdy rope from one end to the other on the first steel span of the rail bridge which is at the height of the funnel of the engine which is about twenty feet. And once the train reaches there in the dark it will pull down all the people sitting on the roof say 4-500. The impact might even dislodge the train itself and it might fall into the river. Prima facie it appeared to be a perfect plan when they could have attacked and killed all the refugees.

    By night everything was in place. The train was moving without lights. Each time it passed a volunteer, the torch light flashed giving the signal that the train had moved ahead. It was a moonlit night. When, the Sikh lad saw a silhouette of a hefty person climbing the first steel span. He then started moving on the sturdy rope when he took out his kirpan (sword) and started cutting it. The Sikh lad upon seeing this, yelled at the hefty person to stop what he was doing. But the guy was unfazed. His movements up there had become even swifter by now. The train by now was also close to the steel span. The Sikh lad by now had understood what was happening. Someone was trying to sabotage the plan by cutting the rope as that would have saved all the refugees. So he first yelled and then took out his gun and shot the guy. He was hurt, and by now he was in the centre of the span. Where, his movements had become much more, faster. And finally he was successful in cutting the rope at the nick of the moment. But just then he fell on the track when the train ran over him and into Pakistan.

    The person who cut the rope was no else but Juggut Singh who wanted to save his Muslim girlfriend from being killed but in the process he killed himself.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

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

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

   

 

HELP DOESN’T HAVE A COLOUR OR A RELIGION.

Copyright@shravancharitymission

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

Copyright@shravancharitymission

conversion 2 conversion conversion1

    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.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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SHORT STORY: DIVINE ALIGNMENT

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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

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