July 17, 2006

Odd tone

Just days after the train blasts in Bombay, Altaf (name changed) turned 50. I am talking to him that day, so when he mentions this, I say, without really thinking, "Happy birthday!" Only to realize that he has not stopped talking, and is saying: "I'm not celebrating my birthday this year. Very close friend of mine died in the blasts."

This close friend was a man who worked in finance, left work for home that evening and was blown up on the train. Not a Muslim, like Altaf, which has some relevance to the story. His wife and Altaf work together in a school. They've known each other for years.

I say, inadequately, that I'm sorry for his friend's death.

Altaf says, "You know what? I went over to the house to be with the family. His wife introduced me to everyone as Altaf-bhai."

There's a noticeably odd tone in his voice as he says this. It's almost as if he was surprised by that "Altaf-bhai", while knowing he shouldn't be. This was, after all, a close family friend, and it was natural that she would call him that. Yet the immediate aftermath of dreadful atrocity is a strange time, when people fall prey to prejudice and easy finger-pointing. Must be Muslims who were responsible, they are always responsible, so there had better be some introspection among Muslims, and why haven't they condemned the blasts enough? (Never enough). Common thoughts, expressed often.

Then this woman, in her moment of profound grief. Treats Altaf like the close friend he is, like always.

So the odd tone in his voice.


barbarindian said...

I think its time you stopped your hysteria. Where did you see poeple pointing fingers to all Muslims en-masse? As a matter of fact your shameless campaign in reverse guilt-introduction is a slap on the face of Mumbaikars who dealt with the aftermath with courage, valor and honor.

Anonymous said...


While your ability to fathom people's odd tone is commendable, blaming muslims and blaming Islamic terrorists are entirely two different things.

You are doing no favor to Altaf-bhai by posts like these.


''Must be Muslims who were responsible, they are always responsible, so there had better be some introspection among Muslims, and why haven't they condemned the blasts enough? (Never enough).''

So if you have ano other options to offer except Islamic terrorists, then please offer your input, instead of these sly remarks. Subsititue Islmaic terrorists in first line and Muslims will not automatically follow in the second.

One thing I agree with,this condemnation of blasts bit gets to me, whether a Hindu does it or a Muslim does. No, I have no interest in any Muslims condemning it.

Sigh! Everytime there is a blasts, the same nonsense starts that Muslims are beeing blamed, tll the next one strikes. As we all know next blasts are around the corner, you might as well save this post.

Dilip D'Souza said...

confused, I'm doing no favour to Altaf-bhai? I wonder how people presume to speak for utter strangers. Altaf specifically spoke to me about his tangled emotions on being introduced like that by this widow.

Tanuj, of course the widow's reaction is commendable, certainly not exceptional. Where did you get the impression that I meant it any other way? I mentioned it precisely to make that point: at a time when people so easily get up and say things about Muslims (example: "Muslims must introspect and condemn, in unequivocal terms, maybe through fatwas, the religious overtones of the attacks, said here), here's a actually bereaved woman who doesn't.

Admirable in every respect.

As for timely or not, that's your opinion and I respect it as always.

Nilu said...

Am aware that logic ain't exactly your forte. But did you manage to get the obvious fact from this post - that you are a bigot? Some may refer to you as a closet bigot. But I don't exactly see anything being in the closet here - this is exactly what Thackrey or Mulayam or SIMI or the RSS do. Just that they don't have a guy who does not mess with punctuation.

zap said...

Dilip, as an agnostic, isn't it logical not to recognize the difference between religions and refer to people as people and not as hindus or muslims?? Isn't it better to say, when u are confronted by religion based accusations, that you only believe that there are harmful people and those who aren't harmful??

Anonymous said...

hello dilip,
this is a very touching post.
thank you.
i also see it has invited very interesting comments.

you what, if this is closet bigotry, i wish there were many more closet bigots.

PS: I'm linking to this post on my blog.

Dilip D'Souza said...

zap: you\'re right. I try hard to achieve that. In all my posts after the blasts, for example, I\'ve not mentioned religions except once in the case of the people going to give blood one night, and then in this post. I will keep in mind what you say

Anonymous said...


Please read your piece again. It clearly gives the impression that you decided for yourself what Altaf is feeling. If that is not the case, my apologies.

As a general point, as I have always said, religion is the root of all evil in this world. I don't freaking get it why people cant turn atheists.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Proof that the blasts are to frame the poor minorities....

Shahi Imam ''absolves'' LeT, blames RSS for Mumbai blasts
New Delhi | July 18, 2006 12:44:10 AM IST

Using a rostrum overlooking the majestic Red Fort, the Shahi Imam of Delhi's grand old Jama Masjid today hit out at the principal political rivals of the United Democratic Front (UDF) he has floated ahead of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh while challenging the charge that Islam breeds terrorists.

''I can say with authority that it is not any Muslim but the Shiv Sena, the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad who are responsible for the serial blasts in Mumbai,'' Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari told a gathering inside the historic mosque.

He cited the recent Sena backlash against the defilement of a statue of the late wife of the party chief as evidence that the Saffron forces were desperate to politically revive themselves in Maharashtra.

The Imam was of the opinion that Muslim men were being blamed for ''every'' terrorist outrage as part of a deep rooted conspiracy.

Community members were being harassed by law enforcing agencies in Mumbai in the wake of the serial blasts even though they had ''no role in the anti-Islamic outrages'', he said, slamming the Congress Governments in Maharashtra and at the Centre.

''Why is it that security forces blame the Lashkar-e-Toiba within ten minutes of a blast. If they already know who did it, why don't they go ahead and arrest the culprits well before the crime is done,'' he asked.

He said he was willing to visit Pakistan and ''talk'' to the LeT commanders if he was given proof of its involvement in terrorist incidents in India. ''If they are responsible then we will talk to them, tell them that they do more harm to the cause of Islam and to Muslims in India through their actions''.

Imam Bukhari said he was worried that while real culprits went scot free and trigerred more blasts, ordinary Muslims were becoming terror suspects in the eyes of the people and the police. ''Every bearded man becomes a suspect'', he said.

Charging the security forces with perpetrating excesses on Muslims, he said terrorism could not be wiped out in such a manner.

''If you want to end terrorism, then you would also have to end State terrorism''.

''The Government should handle the issue of terrorism tactfully.

We want equality before the law'', he said, alleging that the ''yardstick'' was different when it concerned violence perpetrated by Maoists and insurgent groups in the North-East.

He hit out at the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, saying these ''so-called secular parties'' were to blame for all the ills afflicting Muslims today.

''When Muslims get targeted under these so called secular parties, it is time we teach them a lesson. It is time Shias, Sunnis, Ansaris, Saifis, Barelvis, Qureshis and all else stand up as one -- as Muslims -- and snatch back our collective rights and dignity,'' the Imam said, asking the community to stand up to the political challenge.

''We were rulers here for 800 years. Inshaallah, we shall return to power here once again'', he said to loud approval by the nearly 200 assembled men.

Sidhusaaheb said...

All those who have berated Dilip and even called him a 'closet-bigot' have a right to feel outraged, perhaps because they are and have always been secularist.

I do wonder though if they would have been to able to say the same things and just as forcefully, if there actually had been a communal backlash following the blasts.

To be able to put things in perspective, perhaps they should visit the Gujrat villages worst-affected by post-Godhra communal riots.

Family friends almost always behave like the lady in the blog entry did, they say. Well, do they?

How about those Gujrati villagers who saw those whom they had known well for decades, turn into enemies almost overnight?

How about those Gujratis who are still unable to return to their villages because those that they have known for decades, and those whom they considered 'family friends' until very recently, won't let them live there and have nothing but hatred to offer them?

The resilience, grit and amity the Mumbaikars have shown post-7/11 are admirable.

Nevertheless, the fact that Maharashtra is not presently ruled by any political party that might have expected electoral gains from a communal backlash might also have helped maintain peace!

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