My school teacher had once asked me:
“What is your religion?”
I was too young to understand the meaning of the word “religion” and so I blatantly told him, “I am a human”.
Everyone in the class had laughed at my answer and then Masterji asked my name.
I told him.
Suddenly, something happened.
The colour of his face changed and he looked at me in a very deceptive manner. I wasn’t able to decipher what actually went wrong. The next day, Masterji came up to my house and told my mother not to send me to school from the next day. But why? What happened? Did I say something wrong?…questions filled up my mind.
Days passed. I grew up, but I still wasn’t able to find out the answers to my questions. I regularly went for my prayers to the Masjid. One day, I came across a group of men sitting aside in a corner, discussing something. I was intrigued and I went up to them and inquired their topic of discussion…but they had no interest of revealing their intentions to me.
I remember sitting with my mother and having our lunch while an army of policemen raided the houses and shops and took away a group of men. Terrified as I was, I ran up to Maulvi Saab and asked to him what the matter was. In a very subtle tone, he told me, “My son, you have to do what they are doing. Our religion is always tortured. They say that we practice Jihaad, which, according to them, is war against another religion. They say that we are extremists!”
I was electrified. I was determined. I would follow blindly whatever Maulvi Saab said. And in doing so, today, in this contemporary world, I am termed as a “terrorist”.
My body has now given up. I am eternally at rest. Yet, I still ponder whether I was actually fighting for my religion and extremist views, or, was I actually fighting against the demon residing within myself?