Junaid Khan lynching: Yes, it is in my name

This is a piece of fiction but I deserve no mercy. We are all guilty by association.

 |  5-minute read |   28-06-2017
  • ---
    Total Shares

Gaur se dekha to khanjar mere hi haath mein tha...

Yes, indeed, this one is in my name!   

I was the one who pinned 15-year-old Junaid Khan to the ground as two others grappled with his hands and legs that were needlessly flapping in the air.

This is a manoeuvre I had learnt when I would lift my child and pin him to the bed in a mock fight, just to have a glimpse of his broad toothless grin.

The mock fight over, the room would erupt in laughter as I would let go off my darling; I never let go off Junaid though; he fluttered in my arms like a moth as I kept striking at him till my hands ached.

I was momentarily distracted though — but I swear my hand did not waver — as I was again reminded of my child: he must be home from school, lounging in the bedroom, watching TV, playing with crayons. Bleeding red is his favourite colour — the same vibrant shade I could see now as it ruined my silken shirt.

This is no time to dwell on my little sensitivities, but I cannot even hurt a fly; if I were to tread on a puppy I am likely to yelp louder; if I were to see a rat gnashing its teeth in a dark alley, I am more likely to turn and scurry away, the tail between my legs. 

not_062817065223.jpg

I wonder from where my squeamish self draws its strength — it seems there is some ubiquitous presence that has taken me into its protective care; it held my hand when I first shed blood in 1984; the second time I was chaperoned in Gujarat, the third time I was "inspired" to do it in Jogeshwari... But I should not bore you with mundane audit details.

I sensed someone was patting me patronisingly on the back, a familiar elderly gentleman — it was his turn now to have a "stab". "Arre, woh mere saath Ludo khelta tha...," uncleji said by way of explanation as he lifted an iron rod.

The five of us did not know each other per se: we were more than strangers, but less than friends. But we were all on the same side of the social divide.

Incidentally, Junaid had persuaded us to show solidarity with Nirbhaya — in so many ways — in candle light vigils, peace walks, seminars, talks, songs, poems, charity. And today here we were, recreating our own Nirbhaya moment, in real time...

We would occasionally meet in the train; Junaid would invariably offer "uncleji" half his seat and then we would have these animated, but meandering discussions — why Muslims don't feel duty-bound to condemn what is happening in Kashmir, like the rest of us decent folks? Why do they have such an affinity for Pakistan? Why do they over-breed? 

Of course, I regret the last chat we had that fateful day was rather inconclusive: you guessed it right, it was on why Muslims always play the victim card!

But what infuriated us? No, it was not his dress — he was nattily clad in a shirt and trouser; it was not the growth on his face: he hardly had any; no, it was not the "salaam" he had exchanged on the mobile with a friend...

The denouement came — sorry, for the literary expression but I happen to be a lecturer — when he fished a green duster out of his pocket to wipe the sweat from his brow; at that instant the four of us had exchanged a look and made up our mind: Junaid had to go! 

Sometimes, as I watch my son playing with crayons and he comes flying into my arms, I am reminded of the embrace that the boy gave me as life flickered out of him. 

Then, I wonder why we did it? The answer comes to me later, ricocheting in the dead of the night like a blast from the past. 

An inner voice whispers to me that this is the least I could have done after decades of "tolerance" and giving "them" a free-run of the country. And if making common cause with goondas, criminals and the lumpen will help me reclaim my faith, so be it!

I no longer squirm when somebody points a finger at me and dubs me a bigot; rather, I take a curious pride in it. I grin from ear-to-ear, somewhat like a Cheshire Cat that has had its milk and the cream, too.

Postscript: This is a piece of fiction — yes, it is in my name — but I had nothing to do with the ghastly killing. Even if this still sounds like a confession to you, hang me from the nearest lamp post. I deserve no less — neither my accomplices, nor my handlers, nor my ideological mentors. We are all guilty by association.

Also read: Those upset about India being called Lynchistan are just as complicit

 

Writer

SS Dhawan SS Dhawan

The writer is the former editor of FPJ.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.
Comment