Library of India

‘Who will be left to live peacefully ever after?’: 10 conversations on communalism by Asghar Wajahat

Translated by Rakhshanda Jalil, ten piercing conversations on hate, riots and religious discrimination.

~ 1 ~

“Gurudev, are the Muslims of this country outsiders?”

“Yes, Hariram, they are outsiders.”

“Where did they come from?”

“They came from Arabia, from Iran, from Turkestan.”

“But where do they belong now?”

“They are Indian citizens now.”

“Which languages do they speak?”

“Indian languages.”

“Their customs and life styles resemble the people of which lands?”

“The people of India.”

“Then how are they outsiders, Gurudev?”

“Because their religion is a foreign religion.”

“Where did Buddhism spring from?”

“From India.”

“Then should all the Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Burmese Buddhists migrate to India?”

“No, no, Hariram! What would the Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Burmese do in India?”

“Then why should the Indian Muslims go to Arabia, Iran or Turkestan?”

~ 2 ~

“Hindus and Muslims can never live together.”

“Why not, Gurudev?”

“There are far too many differences between the two.”

“Such as?”

“Their language is different from ours.”

“Muslims don’t speak Hindi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Gujrati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Bangla, etc...Do they only speak Urdu?”

“No, no...the difference is not of language; our religions are different.”

“Do you mean people of different faiths cannot live in one country?”

“Yes, India belongs to Hindus and Hindus alone.”

“Then we must get rid of all the Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Jews.”

“Yes, we must throw them all out.”

“Then who will remain in this country?”

“Only Hindus shall live here ... live peacefully ever after.”

“The way only Muslims live in Pakistan and live in peace.”

~ 3 ~

“You must hate Muslims, my child.”

“Why, Gurudev?”

“Because they are cruel, illiterate and dirty.”

“I understand, Gurudev. You mean one must hate cruel, illiterate and dirty people.”

“No, no. Well, actually, one should hate the Muslims because they are extremely religious.”

“I shall hate all extremely religious people.”

“No, no. You have not understood...we should hate the Muslims because they once ruled over us.”

“Then we must hate the Christians too.”

“No, no. The principal reason to hate Muslims is because they caused the partition of our country.”

“Then we must also hate those who divided our country.”

“Yes, yes. Absolutely, we must hate those who divided our country.”

“And what should we do with those who divide our countrymen?”

~ 4 ~

“Gurudev, what sort of people die in communal riots?”

“All sorts of important religious leaders, pandits and maulvis, big-time capitalists and moneylenders, officials and bureaucrats – these are the people who get hurt in communal riots.”

“And who are the people who do not get killed?”

“Ordinary people, workers, craftsmen, rickshaw-pullers, vendors, office-goers – these are the people who are never killed in riots.”

“Then, Gurudev, why is it that riots still take place?”

“Elementary, my child...the ordinary man has no interest whatsoever in stopping communal riots.”

“And the “big” people?”

“They, poor things, try their best to put an end to these riots. The pandits and maulvis give speeches to root out communalism. Politicians try their darndest to stop all riots from ever taking place. Moneylenders and capitalists give generous donations to stop rioting. Government officials too put in all they have to stop riots.”

“How come the riots still don’t stop?”

“That is the eternal mystery, my child. If ever you unravel it, you too will perish in a riot.”

~ 5 ~

“Gurudev, why is it that the culprits behind communal riots are never punished by the law?”

“That is the greatness of our system, my child.”

“How, Gurudev?”

“Our courts understand the sentiments of those who have killed in communal riots.”

“What do they understand?”

“Child, those who die in communal riots go straight to heaven, don’t they?”

“Yes, they do.”

“Who is responsible for sending them to heaven?”

“Those who have killed them.”

“Absolutely correct! You see, my child, our legal system is not so utterly without shame that it will hang those who oblige others.”

~ 6 ~

“Gurudev, how can riots be stopped forever?”

“Child, the whole nation cannot answer this question for you. Not even the president or the prime minister, the entire cabinet of ministers, the intelligentsia – no one has the answer.”

“Gurudev, man has reached the moon, conquered the universe, everything that was impossible till yesterday has become possible today. Why can’t we entrust our scientists with the task of finding out how communal riots can be eradicated forever?”

“Child, scientists were put on the job but they said this was a religious issue.”

“Were the religious people then put on the job?”

“Yes, they were, but they said this was a social issue.”

“What did the sociologists have to say?”

“They said it was a political issue.”

“So what did the politicians say?”

“They said it was a non-issue.”

~ 7 ~

“Gurudev, is the prime minister ultimately responsible for communal riots in this country?”


“The chief ministers, then?”


“The home minister?”


“Well, is it the members of parliament or legislators?”


“It must be the bureaucrats and police?”


“Then who is responsible for communal riots?”

“The janata.”


“Meaning, we are responsible.”


“Meaning, no one is responsible.”

~ 8 ~

“Gurudev, do Muslims produce more children than others?”

“Yes, my child, they do nothing but make more marriages and produce more children.”

“But, Gurudev, why do the Muslims have so many children?”

“Someone who has children of his own could tell you that...I have been an ascetic all my life.”

~ 9 ~

“Gurudev, are all Muslims terrorists?”

“Yes, my child. They do all manner of violent acts, breaking and destroying things.”

“Why do they do that, Gurudev?”

“Because violence is in their blood, my child.”

“Why is violence in their blood, Gurudev?”

“Must be the will of Bhagwan ji; He must have put it inside them.”

“But the Muslims do not believe in Bhagwan ji; they believe in Allah.”

“Then it must be the will of Allah.”

“But we don’t believe in Allah.”

“Never mind, must be our will.”

~ 10 ~

“Gurudev, are all Muslims traitors?”

“Yes, my child, they are making our country hollow from inside.”

“How, Gurudev?”

“They do not pay income tax.”

“How, Gurudev?”

“Tell me, where do you normally see Jumman?”

“At the rickshaw stand.”

“Where do you see Bafati?”

“In the crowd of daily wagers squatting beside the road.”

“What does Khairati do, Hariram?”

“He sells blood, Gurudev.”

“And what does Rahmatun do?”

“He makes bidis.”

“Now tell me, have you ever seen them at the Income Tax Office?”

“I have never been to the Income Tax Office, Gurudev.”

Asghar Wajahat is a Hindi scholar, fiction writer, novelist, playwright, an independent documentary filmmaker and a television scriptwriter. His best-known works include Saat Aasmaan, Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, and O Jamyai Nai, Kaisee Lagi Lagaee.

Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, literary critic and translator. Her most recent work is Liking Progress, Loving Change: A Literary History of the Progressive Writers’ Movement in Urdu.

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