33 years later

Receive a photograph from my cousin in the morning of something burning. When I look at the picture closely I realise it is a picture of Hotel Marina, the Hotel which is partly owned by her family. With it she sends a message, saying luckily the guests were evacuated and that there was a picture of it in Times magazine, as well.

This is news to me. Believe me till Date I didn’t know. I know the case of a family friend who was killed by a mob, while he was trying to save neighbours. I know that my Dad nearly drove towards a mob but was saved by a Hindu man who screamed, ‘Sardarji kidhar ja rahe ho?’ I know that one of the women from the locality told my Mom to ‘bring the kids’ and of course my Mother didn’t leave her husband. I know we were hiding in a Hindu household. But I don’t recollect it. It’s like a childhood fable that I have heard and imagined but don’t remember living through.

I do remember hearing of a photographer -whose Father was a part of the Congress party doing a project on 1984 and finding it really ironic. Having received this message from the cousin, I try to locate the picture of her Father in front of the Hotel. I don’t but I find the news on various sites with all other Sikh properties that were damaged.

The family rarely discusses the riots, unless my Dad is telling me why he would never leave my Mother or it is to draw a comparison between Kashmiri Muslims and Sikhs. ‘We are a minority and we have faced dire straits as well!’, they say. ‘But we didn’t have a choice but to move on, since we are too minuscule in number’, I think. ‘Victimhood doesn’t go with turban,’ shares another proud Sikh. I keep saying the only reason we are not as hateful as the rest of the believers towards other communities is not because we are any better, we are just too damn few. Even if we all lived in clusters, do we have the privilege to hate our workers, bosses, teachers, servants, everybody else? We would be left jobless, illiterate and broke unless we wanted to move back to the pind and in our case that would not be an option, since the pind is border paar. Ishq to convenience se hota he bhai Saab, hum mante he nafrat bhi convenience se hee Kar sakta he insaan! Trust me we are better off not having that choice!

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