Saffron flags lie outside a mosque a day after communal clashes in Jahangirpuri, a neighborhood in northwest Delhi, Sunday, April 17, 2022. (AP Photo)
Across faiths, it is a season of holiness, purity, introspection and connecting with the greatest and purest universal truth. Believers — Hindu, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others — are in the midst of very holy practices connected with important religious days in the month of April.
For the Hindus, first it was Navaratri, then Sri Rama Navami, followed by Hanuman Jayanti, while Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramzan, which will culminate in Id, a day of festivity. After Lent, Christians had a long weekend of prayer and introspection, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
April has also, sadly, been the month not of Gods alone, but of monsters. Communal monsters. Monsters we have as a society and country given birth to, fed, fostered, took good care of and now they have come of rebellious age. Monsters who can no longer be contained or unleashed at will. Monsters that won’t do our bidding. Frankenstein, encore.
It has been a month marked with Hindu yatras with music, slogans, flags and followers brandishing menacing weapons, and intent, hurling invectives and abuse; finding a counter, their spiritual equivalents, Muslims with stones and guns, intrepid, firing even at cops.
Disrupting the harmony that somehow managed to prevail during the infancy of this monster rearing programme, now, the dangerous creatures old enough to chalk out an agenda independent of its master, disrupting peace. The fire began to spread sporadically but with a method... in Bengal, in Gujarat, in Delhi, in Rajasthan, in Maharashtra, in Karnataka.
The monstrous fires have been fuelled differently by different guardians. Some did it in the name of clothes, some in the name of food. Some protested against loudspeakers in mosques, demanding they be silenced, and yet others, blared loudspeakers of their own.
Their blinded backers on social media, champions of selectivity and hypocrisy, choosing to hear the cacophony created in their own echo chambers, fuelled the fire and spread the hate virus.
Even as semblances of civilised order began to meltdown in several random pockets of the country, the larger ominous message was unmistakable: we have to chosen to create a war within, a needless clash between people based on their faith.
Burkha versus saffron scarfs, azaan versus Hanuman chalisa, jhatka versus halaal — these, a nation that in a different alternate reality be owning the century and putting India at the forefront of progress, is now being compelled to resolve these with an urgency now shown for any secular concern — economic growth, jobs, inflation, border security, global warming.
We are slowly sending civilisation itself on a vacation, blinded by narrow concerns of who let the dogs out, first? Whataboutery flies in the air wearing different colours, because none, like the proverbial blind men, can comprehend the elephant in the country, and each one, feeling a party, perceived an incomplete, bereft of context, reality, which they then emphasise is final and complete.
We, the communalised people of India, are writing a different preamble. We are working towards an end which is the exact opposite of nation-building. And neither Ram nor Allah feel we deserve them, not anymore.