In tolerance

Saturday evening and it was time to start ferrying around my Mom on my two-wheeler with a list of to-dos. This time we had to buy things for a pooja that was to take place the next day.

We reached our destination. A small shop on a lane where houses and shop doors opened right onto the streets. My mother quickly got busy with her long list of items. I stood at the entrance, looking at something that I hadn’t seen before.

4–5 people carried on their shoulders, what resembled a Dargah like structure . A small kid, walking in the front, carried a bunch of incense sticks in his hand. It was a silent procession, no chants.

I recognized one of the men. He was our office cab driver back in the days while I was doing my internship. Though I never interacted him, it was good to see a familiar face. I faintly recollect him with his white cab — the front glass pane with Urdu words written and the digits 786 on the back pane.

I kept wondering what the procession was all about until I saw an old woman walking from the other end of the road. She must have been around 65 years old, a bit frail, wore a 9 yard saree that covered her head. Her huge red bindi and the mangalsutra were prominent.

The old woman slowly reached the Dargah, took off her old footwear. Touched her wrinkled hands and forehead on the Dargah. With utmost sincerity and devotion, she said a few words of prayer and concluded the prayer with a Namaste. Her act was no different than any person offering a prayer while taking Darshan at a temple.

The men carrying the Dargah on their shoulders waited while people offered prayers, they waited for her too. Thereafter, the procession carried on.

Back in the shop, my mother was done with her list and it was time to leave. I was overwhelmed for some reason.

Few months later, I read a newspaper headline that said –

“Is India becoming an intolerant nation?”.

I could only smile.



Looking for extra-ordinary in the ordinary

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