Hamida began her day in the usual manner. She woke up to the sound of Azaan. Her father had already left the house for the mosque. She hurried and walked towards the mosque. Walking past the mosque, she reached the milk shop. Nawaz Miyan loved tea. He would sip several cups a day at his shop and never started his day with homemade tea after Azaan.
Everyone called him Nawaz Miyan, even his wife used to, who died five years ago. Since then, the relationship between Nawaz Miyan and Heena evolved a long way. For most of her childhood, he was in Kashmir trying to provide for the family. When he did come back after ten years, she was dealing with puberty. They would speak only when needed but now they would talk every morning about the weather, politics, economy and everything. Every discussion would lead to him saying, “You would get married one day and I will be left alone in this world.”
To which she would reply, “I am never going away from you, even if you want me dead.” Chuckles from both of them would end the discussion.
Though her usual routine, when Hamida stepped out that day, everything felt different. The chilly breeze was now gentle. The dull morning was replaced by cheery, shining one. Cold winter had made way for a warm season of love. Walking through the narrow lanes, she reached the market area. Out of all the shops in the vicinity, only one was open at the time. It was as if the white milk was the only pious thing to be awake in the morning at the time of Azaan.
The breeze of freshness made her do something new. She would often wonder about the milk shop on the other side of the railway track.
“Does the milk from a Hindu shop taste any different?” her silly thoughts were justified for she did not know much about the world.
She hesitantly served the tea. After her father took a few sips, she felt relaxed. He could not tell the difference between the milk and that gave her the license. She would walk in every day to Shakti milk instead of A-1 milk. And in the process of exchanging shops, she didn’t know when she also exchanged red heart for white milk to the guy at the counter.
“Nawaz Miyan, everything is not okay with Heena,” someone reported during evening tea break. The story being narrated at tea began from the milk shop entailed details of various coffee shops.
“And the worst part is that the guy is Hindu.” As the story concluded, Nawaz Miyan’s voice sank like the biscuit dipped in hot tea.
It was a long night. The season changed once again. Nature cried long that night for the death of two lovers.
A maroon car stopped at the red railway gate. The car was big and spacious, unlike the surrounding. The gate, which was normally always open, had been closed for some time now. A number of vehicles were parked in a haphazard manner on either side of the gate, making the top view appear like an amateur abstract art.
Amidst numerous vehicles of different colours, the red mound of the temple behind stood out like the cherry on the top of the cake.
On the other side of the gate, the white mosque stood silently not far away from the chaos.
People of all caste, age, gender and sections of society are eagerly waiting for the gate to open and cross their way to the other side. That’s because their world was not confined to the same religion localities they lived in.
In the real world, they needed to cross the barriers.
Impatient to do so, their wait was answered soon. After all, Gods from both religions were prayed to.
Nawaz Miyan, along with many other Muslims waiting on the side of the Mosque happily rushed towards the side of the temple. And so did many Hindus from the other side.