Sometimes apparently unimportant things can create an indelible impression on our minds. A few days back I was travelling in a not-so-crowded local train from Wadala to CST. I happened to sit beside an ordinary and unimpressive young man who had with him a bunch of newspapers. Reading while travelling alone is often the best way to avoid being bored. So I took from him ‘DNA’ (Yes, it is a newspaper and it stands for Daily News and Analysis) and was flipping through the headlines. I found a column by Fahad K Samaar interesting and started reading it. The writer in some context has described his father to be a ‘Muslim atheist’. Muslim because his father ‘understood and spoke exquisite Urdu, appreciated ghazals and poetry, relished a well cooked biryani and greeted his friends with Salaam and bid them adieu with Khuda Hafeez.’ He meant that though he was culturally a Muslim but was against any kind of organized religion.
I was moved by this description of religion being more akin to culture and morality than to other fundamentalist notions that it has come to mean in recent times. I was looking forward to read the rest of the article when ill-fate struck. The young man whose newspaper I was reading had to get down in the next station. I was about to give him back the newspaper when he gestured me to keep it and hurriedly got off the train. No word was spoken. I couldn’t even thank him. I read the entire article and was really happy. As the train entered CST I smiled silently remembering a line that I had read many years ago…”It is not the biggest things that make the biggest show, it is the little things that people do that makes this old world go.”
27 August 2008.