Thursday, June 30, 2011

Be Your Father's Son--An Open Letter to Amitabh Bachan

Main hoon unkey saath, rakhte jo seedhi apni reedh… (I am with those who keep their spine straight) FROM MADHUSHALA BY HARIVANSH RAI BACHCHAN.

Najid Hussain
The writer is the son-in-law of late MP Ahsan Jafri who was killed in mob violence in Ahmedabad

Dear Amitabh,
I remember the day in 1982, when the news of your serious injury on the sets of Coolie broke. It said you may not survive. The country was shocked. Millions cried. Special prayers for your good health and long life were offered in temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras. I joined the prayers for your health and long life.

The writings of your father, the late Shri Harivansh Rai Bachchan, had a great influence on me. From early childhood, I have read his poetry and prose that combined Kabir, Keats, Tagore, Omar Khayyam and Shakespeare into artful construction of ideas with deep reflections. Kya bhooloon kya yaad karoon made me stand up and speak the truth — without fear, or favour — however difficult or awkward it may be. Inspired by his writings and fully subscribed to his views, admiration and love for you was natural.
Natural is also my shock and dismay at your acceptance of the offer from Narendra Modi of Gujarat to be his brand ambassador.

I want to think that you don’t know much about Modi. And so, I must tell you what Modi is and what he has done in Gujarat, which has invited global condemnation, international sanctions and even calls for his arrest.
On February 28, Zakiya Jafri will relive the agony of witnessing the brutal massacre of her husband, former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, and scores of other women and children in her house.

On that fateful day, as the crowd chanting Jai Shri Ram started gathering around her society in Ahmedabad, waving swords, trishuls and torches, and frightened people from the neighborhood started pouring into her house seeking protection, Ahsan saheb asked her to go upstairs to the bedroom and stay there until called. From upstairs, Zakiya Jafri could not see what was going on downstairs in her house, but from the unruly crowd outside shouting ‘jalao (burn)’, ‘kaato (cut)’, ‘maaro (kill)’, the cries of women and children from inside, and heat from the walls of her bedroom, she could guess what was taking place and was fearful of what was to come. The immoral dance of brutality, cries, fires, and more cries, continued for three hours. Three hours later, police arrived. As the survivors were taken down and out of the house, which was still smouldering, Zakiya saw, for the first time, several corpses burning inside her house. Mutilated body parts burning outside her house. Little bodies of children floating in her water tank, who having been set afire may have jumped into the tank. She saw one blue rubber slipper — the one Jafri saheb always wore in his office — lying outside. It was soaked with blood. The other one was missing.

Eight years have passed. Zakiya’s memory of that day does not fade — the day when the world she had built, brick by brick, with a lifetime of hard work, full of aspirations, dreams and love was ruthlessly and deliberately destroyed before her own eyes. The most important person of her life, to whom she had completely dedicated her life, loved, adored and revered, and like any traditional Indian woman, could not imagine life without — had been brutally killed. She was shattered. Her deep shiny eyes, full of sparkle and love, went lifeless.

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Source- Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 09


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