Thursday, 4 January 2018

Persona Non Grata: Ahmed choses a religion

Even as the constable shooed him away for the fourth time, Ahmed did not feel dejected. It was not the first time he was being chased away from a place, by a person or his memories. He was a persona non grata for most.

Ahmed did not choose to go the police station. His father had asked him to. When you are 5 years old, you do as your father says. Even if your father is disabled and can not move around much. His father could certainly not chase Ahmed to beat him. Five year olds listen to their father. He had not chosen his father either.

Ahmed did, however, chose a name on his way to the police station and quite unknowingly, a religion.The religion of the person who dropped him till the police station on the bicycle. He did not know the person was Muslim. He knew the person was different because he wore a skull cap. Unlike his father. He did not know the religion of his father either. All he knew that the person who offered him a lift on that cold foggy afternoon was Ahmed Ilyasi. And just like that, he was Ahmed too.

Having been turned away by the constable yet again, he trudged along the dirt track that led to his shanty. Today, yet again, he had the same answer for his father. That the constable had turned him away without giving any explanation as to where Ahmed's mother was. 

Except, he was not Ahmed. Ahmed was Chotey or simply, the youngest. He was only 15 months old when his mother had gone away. She was not dead yet. That he was sure of. As sure as his father was. She had gone away for work with 30-40 other women from the locality. And had not come back since. Neither had the money they were promised. 

Every month, since he had turned 5, a big responsible man according to his father, Chotey had visited the police station to ask if they found out anything about his mother. And every month, they turned him away, sometimes after scolding him for wasting their time with the same question again and again.

The next month, when he visited the station, they were surprisingly receptive. A young inspector had asked Chotey his name, which he said was Ahmed. The bearded guy asked him to sit and looked around in some files. He made some phone calls and sounded more disappointed as each call ended. 

At last, in a disappointed tone, he told Ahmed that there was no information on his mother yet. He did not assure to look for her either. He just said there was no information. 

And once again, Ahmed was on his way back home.