Thursday, April 2, 2015

How my grandpa’s belief in brotherhood nurtured humanity in me

This post is written as the second in the series of A-to-Z challenge and a part of #1000speak

My theme is "Compassion". 

When I was little, I often spent a lot of time with my grandfather. His name was Professor K K Tiwari. He was a professor of Political Science at the University of Delhi. An amateur palmist, gardener by hobby, an avid reader and chess and chai addict, he was bountiful. I may need several pages just to give his short bio. 

Nanaji (maternal grandfather - as we say in Hindi) had a distinct ability to strike a relationship with people around him. The base of these bonds was “brotherhood” - the belief that all people should act with warmth and equality toward one another. Because of this distinct positive quality, he was conferred the position as the convener for NSS* (National Service Scheme) for University of Delhi. Due to the same reasons, at home, he was also the president of the local community council, which was a professor's colony. Around 50 Delhi University professors, formed this part of the colony. 

I am such a proud grand daughter. 

I will cite a couple of instances here, which are engraved in my mind forever, and because of which I believe in brotherhood as well. 

Circa 1985

Our house had two unoccupied plots on either side. The plot on the right was of one Professor Mehdi. After a few years of buying the land, Prof Mehdi planned to construct a beautiful house, and  live there with his wife, three sons and a very pretty daughter, all in their early twenties. Nanaji was extremely happy to finally have a neighbor next door. Then why was a pie of the community not so eager to welcome the new family? They were the first Muslim community to move in the colony. When the members brought this up to nanaji, he was taken aback by total surprise. Nevertheless, he ignored the dissent and did not agree on the demand that Professor Mehdi will not be involved in the council. 

When the family moved in, what happened next is inexplicable in words. In no time, while sharing the common wall, we, the Tiwaris and they, the Mehdis, shared a place in our hearts. The details will fail in sheets. But it is important to mention here, that the bond is still held, now by the next generation. Nanaji’s belief in brotherhood was strong, and he stood by it through many testing times, one with the highest recall is the communal riots of 6th December 1992 (Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid)**.

The other plot, the one on the left side of our house, was bought by Mr. Bhatia. He was a  Kashmiri, and relocated to Delhi during the tough times in the late 1980s.*** He,and his family - his wife, two daughters, and a son, all in their teens, had no kin in Delhi. The community helped them with a temporary place to stay while their house was being constructed. Mr. Bhatia made my grandpa set the foundation stone of his house. Their small cloth shop was inaugurated by nanaji. 

Ironically, within a few months after these incidents, Professor Mehdi was the one who would recite the final prayers on nanaji’s death - prayers to Allah, in Urdu while Mr. Bhatia supervised all the rituals. Around 100 shops in the bazaar (Arya Samaj Road) were shut down when he died. Around 500 people, of all castes and creed, were present at his cremation.   

These two relationship, amidst many more, made my belief in brotherhood, so strong that I am not able to comprehend the discrimination based on  “religion” and “caste” (and the likes) till date. 

As grandpa used to say, 

“God/bhagwan/allah/waheguru will be happy if and only if we successfully follow the religion of brotherhood and humanity.”

Head to my fellow A-to-Zder
, Romi C post for the day. She pens her thoughts at Letters from the Land of Cherry Blossoms. You may learn a few Japanese words and alphabets here. 

The content on the blog post is the opinion of the author, and not intended to “malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual,”