The Length of Shadows

Id from my balcony. Mumbai. 2nd Oct 08
The morning ushers with it a holiday on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. And Id. And as i part the curtains to draw in the morning air, there is an Islamic preachers cadence which floated through ! Rather noisy. That’s my first reaction for the day.

I stand there, soaking up the morning and all that it has to offer : the birds chirping, the first rays of the sun hitting the opposite building. And more importantly, the relative silence that a ‘holiday’ morning offered. Free from honks, bus engines and an inherent Sisyphean buzz.

In a few minutes, i became aware of young Muslim men, characterised by their caps registering in my eyes. They seem to be returning from prayer. Or wherever. Bright clothes and a sprightly walk characterise their today. Today is Id. After a month of fasting, today, is celebration time.

And as they walk towards in the direction of the Sun, i see their shadows lengthening. They segue from slow to a brisk walk. I wonder whats the hurry. Perhaps breakfast. I think.

I wonder how they feel, to be identified & labelled as a Muslim. Victims themselves. Either of terrorism, propaganda or bias. A lump sits in my throat. The birds continue to chirp.

The religion surely must be rich. And i am sure there must be dimensions of which the rest of us don’t understand fully. Maybe someone needs to demystify and help the world understand the Koran, i think.

We need to accept ‘them’ as one of ‘us’ i think. And then, a smile escapes my lips. ‘Us’ & ‘them’, my mind thought 10 seconds ago.

I ask myself, ” aren’t ‘they’, ‘US’ ?!?”

The lump gets bigger within. I wonder if the biases, that i think rests with the rest of the world, rests in me as well. Unconscious sleeper cells? I wonder.

And even as i wonder, i hope thats not the case ! A full minute later, the ‘sleeper cells’ are still introuvable. Thankfully. I hope they never existed.

Far below, the boys themselves, don’t seem to be bothered. With animated chatter, they are now sauntering on. And as the Sun’s rays get brighter, their shadows get lengthier.

In an hour, i am at my breakfast table. Muesli and honey. I wonder what the boys who walked by would be having for breakfast. A few images appear. My mouth waters. Many years back my dad told my mom, half in jest, ‘the way to a man’s heart is through the alimentary canal’.

Out of nowhere that comment makes a propitious appearance. And stays too. Silly. I think. But, it continuous to stay. I wonder why.

I saunter to the window. A new set of boys with the same caps walk by, on the same path. The Sun is up in the sky.

The shadows, however, are shorter. Much shorter.

Happy Id !