Out of sheer curiousity I popped out of the window, to see what the commotion was about. I was sane enough to understand atleast the basics of creed discrimination. What I didn't know was what followed.
We were not allowed to go on the streets, not even playing cricket. The schools were closed indefinitely, the idea of cable tv was yet to be familiarized with our mindsets. Those were the dull days of our lives. The older and mature generation seemed tense as well along with the boredum.
I knew almost all of the urchins in the building in front of us. The apparent economical and social divide between the two bedroom kitchen and one room no bed no kitchen remained unnoticed to us. Most of them would play with us, the game of cricket, on roads on playing grounds, opposite teams, same team, one pitch out, fast ball not allowed cricket.
Then on one such day, unusually the bus service was functional. They saw a peculiar man standing at the bus door. He wore a shirt, a pant, maybe underwears too. But he also wore a muslim cap and a beard. That was enough for them to find him guilty. He was pulled off the bus by some just above teenage hunks. A large crowd of one room no bed no kitchen inhabitors gathered around him, fighting to secure a perfect position to have a scrutunizing look at the creature. O la what a pity! What stupidity! What religion! they cried, they screamed. Bats were gathered, stumps were also visible. But wasn't cricket playing banned these days? Wasn't it a curfew (A word added to the innocent vocabularies of 8 year olds like us, thanks to particularly nobody and everybody). Soon, it was discovered that the equipment was to be used for a very different but obviously reason.
The bats and stumps were distributed uniformly, everybody got batting, even those who used to field all the time just because they were weak. Everybody seemed happy, atleast excited. Let's start! Let's do it! they again screamed. The amplitude of the voices infuriated their young minds. The man with shirt pants underwear cap and beard got the beating. Somehow his screams made the batsmen realize that this wasn't the kind of batting they enjoyed. But the great religion of thousands of years was supporting them, in a modernistic sport against a very modern yet conservative and secluded creed. The lost enthusiasm in killing the one with the underwear and a beard was refilled by the encouragement by not so young batsmen and the batting and the beating continued.
He Abdul, Muhhamad, Ali, Zakir or whatever, who was a fool to wear an underwear and a beard and a muslim cap in a hindu proactive area on a riot day was screaming and was beaten to death. Who was to blame? The children who didn't understand the difference between two bedroom kitchen and one room no bed no kitchen and the difference between beating and batting and for that matter, even hindu or muslim. Or the man with an underwear, along with a cap and a beard or me for not listening to my mother and noticing every detail of the bloodbath?
They say, not wearing an underwear might cause harnia. Harnia is a disease. But on that day then, not wearing a cap or a beard for that matter, would have saved his life like the rest of the people in the bus. There might had been more of his religion in the bus, but they were wise enough to forget their caps and maybe underwears as well.