“Allah Hafiz” To “Hey Ram”

Photo by mysterykatt123
Photo by mysterykatt123

Has religion become the epicentre for our morality , safety , our dignity ? Have we as human beings sold ourselves to the judgements , agendas, inventions , lies and deceit of that which we call religion ?

A few days back as I stepped into the waiting uber cab my house help handed me my things and in her customary way bade farewell – “Allah hafiz didi ” with me reciprocating with the same …

As I shut the cab door I sensed a perceptible stiffening in the body language of the cab driver . The usual pictures of goddesses and hanging gods was silent testimony of his change in attitude ! Halfway through the journey suddenly the driver slammed hard on his brakes as a car overtook from the wrong side …. violently jerked forward very unconsciously the words “Hey Ram ” flew out from me !

As the journey resumed within minutes much to his chargin and absolute indignation the driver questioned me –

“How did you say “hey ram ” ? When you sat in the car you said “allah hafiz ” ! Aap musalman hai ? ( you are a muslim )

Bemused by his discomfiture and being very present with his befuddled thought process I informed him that I was a hindu !

Ahh ! these words were an instant shot of morphine calming his piqued religious sensibilities ! The next 15 minutes he took it upon himself to educate me about the rights and wrongs of religion !

Did I feel unsafe in those quickfire questioning 10 seconds ….. yes i did even if it was fleeting ….

Later in the evening as I relived the incident a whole plethora of questions raced through my mind ….really ! Is this progressive india ! The absurdity of that which transpired in the morning completely astounded me !The nearly daily reports of communal violence and incidents set me thinking about the magnitude of unease unrest and hatred simmering inside the people of this country !

Could the underlying factor actually be unexpressed repressed anger with self ? The sheer helplessness to be the change the world requires each one of us to be in this moment of time ? The seemimg impossibility of making choices that would create a different future ? The deeply inculcated useless religious doctrines embedded into our dna !

Tomorrow will we be compelled to base our choices on safety ? Will I have to ensure whether it is a hindu or a muslim driving the cab ? Safety as to who i interact with !

Where are we headed in this 21st century … a blooming period or on a pathway of gloom and doom !

Well I wonder what else is possible ……

Shalini Gupta Newar is an independent writer


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