Humble and modest person that he is, Mullah Happy looks acutely uncomfortable with my praise for he suddenly demands Did you hear Mullah Pain's lecture yesterday? I have never known Mullah Happy demanding or raising his voice ever before, so it takes me a while to shake off the shock I feel. Mullah Pain is a popular aalim in Mumbai (and elsewhere in India), always seen around during Muharram. Loud, vocal and reckless, he lambastes fellow Muslims who do not share his views at all his lectures, obviously relishing the " waah, waah, waah” reaction from (mostly uninformed and poor) masses. He is controversial old man, been in a soup a number of times, but remains very popular nevertheless.
Well, Mullah Happy, I say, you know I do not listen to him, you know what I think of him. Now what did he say that has you in a knot? Mullah Happy looks at me perplexed and purses his lips. What he said, what he said... he splutters, showering me with drizzle of spit that flies out of his trembling mouth, he used foul language against the gang of three. Again! I smile; Mullah Pain always has something bad to say about the gang of three, this is nothing new. My smile is seen as an affront, for Mullah Happy then does something else he has never done. He slams a bunched fist on the table, making me, the china and condiments all jump; a pickled onion gets a mind of its own and slowly but surely topples over and rolls along the table and comes resting near me, as if for safety. Do not take this lightly Sir,admonishes Mullah Happy, for his type of people are going to destroy us and destroy the chances of Muslims having any self respect in this country!
I am truly amazed at the transformation of this, well, until a little while ago, a pretty docile man. Well, I ask, what do you think needs to be done to control him? Our talk is interrupted by our waiter as he places a whole tandoori chicken, daal fry, mutton botis and butter naans in front of us. Now let me tell you this: Mumbai has a lot of good restaurants, but Delhi Durbaar in Pala Ghalli is unbeatable in taste and price. So for the next fifteen minutes, Mullah Pain is put on a back burner as we attack the spread in front of us in relative silence and enjoy, grunting in pleasure as the taste buds spring to life and sniff, sniff as hot spicy masalaas kick in delicious torment. It is only after the meal and hot chai that I appraise my agitated friend and wait for him to complete his tirade. He lets out a small, surpressed burp and goes on the offensive.
How low can we sink? You know that Muslims in India are a minority and we are a minority of this minority. After all that India has been through last year and more so after November 26, all of us, especially us mullahs need to be extra careful about what we say. And act. We need to be more accommodating and open to the government here, more helpful. After all, thirty plus percent of people slaughtered on November 26 were Muslims. But no! We remain combative and daring, not against ones who we consider non-believers but against our own Muslims.
Mullah Happy is definitely not a happy man today; he is seething with anger and in no mood to take my side remarks or jokes that he (at most times) finds entertaining. I refrain from commenting today and sit back to listen to another majlis.
To be continued…