As soon as the alarm clock screamed in my left ear, I woke up and rolled out of my bed. The gleam of the sunlight was entering through a crack in the window. I mildly opened the door of my balcony to inhale pure and true freshness of the 4pm air. I was already having a joyous feel, and by embracing the sunlight with the shimmer of the bulb chains decorating the neighbor’s houses, I felt the beauty of the place. I did my morning namaaz, took my shower and wore a plane white kurta-pajama which my grandmother gifted me. I went down stairs to look if everyone was ready with their luggage and kids. We all sat down in our veranda for the breakfast served by my ammi and my choti ammi. As I sat crossed legged comfortably on that pale red mat with my plate, I realized how euphoric the moment was, the faces of my family were glowing, and a beatific smile decorating it perfectly. While my ammi was serving us the food, I looked at her wrist, adorned with new red and green bangles. Admiring the beauty I was reminded of a poem.
“Their shining loads to the temple fairs
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives
For happy daughters and happy wives.”
Eid was here. Happiness and love, was all around. We had decided to visit our very old Maszid that day, to pray for health and happiness, to celebrate this festival on the land from where we belonged. I had a smile on my face with a thought, that Allah is great; because of his blessings this trip has been arranged.
We were 30. Family, neighbors and friends; captivated by the love of God, and enraptured by the music of love and joy around. Everyone boarded the bus. I asked the driver to clean the dusty roof and helped him to strap the luggage with a withered piece of rope. Our driver, Akhtar closed his eye, did his prayer for a minute and started off the bus.
The journey to the holy place started with the prayers. We all sand the songs of God. We shared the good experiences, good times of our lives. The moment became so ecstatic. I felt like singing a Rumi poem. The poem was “All religions are but one.”
“Since the object of praise is one,
from this point of view,
all religions are but one religion.
Know that all praise belongs to the Light of God
and is only lent to created forms and beings.
Should people praise anyone but the One
who alone deserves to be praised?
But they go astray in useless fantasy.
The Light of God in relation to phenomena
is like light shining upon a wall —
the wall is but a focus for these splendors.”
Everyone in the bus appreciated it, because the lesson it teaches is very deep. After I finished singing the poem, the driver informed us that we have reached half the way.
My mother unpacked the snacks and distributed among all. I thought that the driver must also be hungry and tired, and I went into the cabin to offer him some food. As I entered the cabin and sat near the window seat on the left side of the bus, I noticed few creases of fear on his face. He was driving safely but something was bothering him. I offered him water. He drank the water but refused to eat. Seeing his uneasiness, I asked him, “Is anything worng, Akhtar? I see you are in dithers.” He tried to resist but I continued to ask him the same question over and over again, until I got my answer. With an unsteady voice, he replied, “Bhaijaan, I think that there is some problem with the engine. While driving I can feel the pressure on me. I am not sure but this can be a serious fault. I promised to Allah that I will make you all reach safely, but I am afraid.”
His voice, his facial expression made me nervous. I couldn’t gather enough courage to inform this to everyone who was travelling with us. The delighted look on their faces flashed my mind. I thought they all will become overwrought on hearing a bad news. I didn’t want them to know about it. I asked Akhtar to stop the bus near a Dhabba. The idea was to check the fault in the engine without getting noticed by any passenger.
The moment I stood up to open the door of the cabin, I hear a sparking noise, and within a second, the bus got exploded.
Now, when I am writing this I remember how painful, how disastrous it was. I lost my family and friends. I was in tears that didn’t seem to stop. Me, and two uncles somehow, by our Allah’s grace survived. I still remember the dark black bodies of my Ammi, Abbu and two younger brothers. The dark orange flame swallowed them completely. The blood was spilled on the floor of the bus as if someone has painted the floor of the bus with dark red paint. The low whines of babies. These voices and the scenes of this accident give me goosebumps even now.
The accident took place near a village where majority of villagers were Hindu. I was fortunate enough that some of the villagers took me and informed the police nearby. Since the blood was covering my body and I could barely speak a word, the investigation started by the guesses of the people around. My recovery took around 2 weeks. One day, lying on the bed of the hospital, I asked the nurse to give me the newspaper. She brought the English newspaper with a cup of tea. I kept tea cup aside and unfolded the newspaper. There was a news about this incident on the left side of page 3. It read, “The bus got was fired by the villagers, 27 Muslims killed on Eid.”
I was shocked to read it. No, this did not happen. I t was a technical fault. How can they blame the villagers? How can they write anything without properly investigating?
I was furious after reading a fake news. Just as I finished reading that article, I was informed that one of men who were luckily saved by villagers couldn’t bear the pain of the machines, though the other man was still struggling with those machines, injections and medicines.
I was so much angry that I requested my doctor to call the police. I had to tell him about what actually happened that afternoon.
After 45 minutes of waiting, the police arrived. I explained them about the accident that happened because of the technical fault in the engine. They were surprised to hear the truth from me. He told me that since it was Eid that day and we were near a village with majority of Hindus, everyone concluded that this wasn’t an accident but a successful attempt to kill the Muslims. I asked him how the media can print any news without properly knowing the truth.
The answer came clearly, “Look, son. We have seen riots. We have seen a human killing a human, a human burning a human, a human disrespecting a human’s religion. This kind of news is very usual nowadays. The violence is not created with the actions; it is created by our thoughts. If a Muslim gets killed, they blame Hindus, when a Hindu gets killed they blame Muslims. Instead of knowing the situation, we all jump into a conclusion that the one who is not of our religion has killed the people of our religion. Now when such thoughts enter one’s mind, the next thing that happens is these thoughts and actions get politicalized. Politicians use them as a weapon to finish off their enemy, some to gain sympathy, some to show how secular they are. Before the police, before any politician, it’s the common man thoughts that cause such incidents. We all fail to see how these incidents arise, but are always ready to chop the heads of the people. I pray to God to give everyone kind and clear thoughts, to eliminate such violent and jealous thoughts. Once the thoughts are pure and clear, no wrong things will take place. “
For a silent minute I thought deeply whatever this man just said. It isn’t the fault of a single person; it is because of all human who believes in making themselves superior by showing the inferiority in others. Before a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, we all are humans, who breathes the same air, who lives on an equal land. And then I remember a quote from Swami Vivekananda that, “As soon as a man stands up and says he is right or his church is right and all others are wrong, he is himself all wrong. He does not know that upon the proof of all the others depends the proof of his own.”
The police then apologized for not investigating sincerely, and informed the commissioner and media about the truth. Correction was made in the next issue of the newspaper and an apology from the writer of that article was also taken.
I was in a relief that no Hindu was killed or arrested for the crime they didn’t commit. I packed my bag and headed to my home, to smell the beauty of the place that was still lingering.