Two days there was a general sense of panic and every one scrambling to rush home. No one wanted to get stuck on the roads with the impending arrest of Raj Thackeray. Just as we were getting ready to leave.. a colleague(a Bhargava and from UP) tells another (Dubey from UP again) that “we will get into the most if we get caught in the cross fire.”
For a brief moment, I am frightened too.. my car is a Delhi number plate. what if they fling a stone on me, I wonder aloud. “Oh. You can just tell them your name,” they tell me. I know my fear is not justified and wonder whether I should be relieved that my name would save me?
That statement stayed with me.. I mean.. thats how people are feeling even if they have grown up in Mumbai. They feel like they don’t belong. The next day she tells me.. “you know I felt strange saying that yesterday. It’s like I created a bond where there was none, because of fear.”
I have Muslim friends who also add that they will never be comfortable in Mumbai.. despite being brought up in the city. “It’s not home anymore.” They are willing to live in places deemed as ‘theirs’ only because being a Muslim there is not incriminating.
Only because this city has become so indifferent to maintaining it’s identity that it does not realise its losing its spirit.. The proverbial indominatable spirit.. where is it? Why is it not crushing the ilk of Raj and Azmi?
While politicians exploit it for their gain and while some Maharastrians (like my parents) claim this cleansing is required.. and at the same time, are glad for that vegetable vendor (a Pandey, I point out), who delivers vegetables at home as late as 10 pm.. and doesn’t expect a tip.