Can’t prove love through documents - GulfToday

Can’t prove love through documents

Shaadaab S. Bakht


Shaadaab S. Bakht, who worked for famous Indian dailies The Telegraph, The Pioneer, The Sentinel and wrote political commentaries for, is Gulf Today’s Executive Editor.


Demonstrators display placards during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Ahmedabad. Reuters/ File


There was a sense of swirling unease because he hadn’t slept for days following a week of communal clashes in which many were injured. His nights were becoming darker and longer for he thought that long knives were still out and shining.

His friends, who loved him and belonged to a different religious denomination, told him that his fears were exaggerated and he should sleep in peace. They told him the worst was over. They were right, thankfully. This tale about communalism was my grandfather’s conversational staple.

Some months ago my nights too turned unusually long when I read about the government’s decision to prepare a list of Indian citizens through a new law called the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). I was born at home and have no birth certificate. What will I do? I asked myself. I was left worried.

He introduced me to another Brahmin, who went on to greatly influence the way I now look at life…

Also hurt, because from kindergarten to grade XI I had only one close friend, Nagendra Singh. He always came first and I always followed him. In college, a Brahmin classmate and I did everything together. We didn’t bother about our different beliefs. He almost played my moral compass. He introduced me to another Brahmin, who went on to greatly influence the way I now look at life and tackle its trepidations that often arrive unannounced. We always walked the same path.

And now I have to establish that I am an Indian. That makes me very sad.  

I had the mortification of shouldering my grandfather, my grandmother, my young father and my mother to their last resting places, but they too had no birth certificates to prove they were born in India. What will I do? I again asked myself. They didn’t change sides when India was partitioned because they were very happy. They didn’t know that there would be a day when their descendants would be asked to prove that their ancestors were Indians after having wallowed in its soil for a century.

The new law allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities, who are in India illegally, to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the law as a humanitarian gesture.
But I am feeling relaxed after Modi clarified that the CAA is not meant for Indian citizens but for the refugees.

“… Some educated urban Naxals are spreading this rumour that all Muslims will be sent to detention centres. ‘Ye jhhut hai, ye jhhut hai, ye jhhut hai’ (These are lies),” he said.
“The law does not impact 1.3 billion Indians, and I must assure the Muslim citizens of India that this law will not change anything for them,” said Modi.

Legal or illegal, the problem is that I don’t want to leave Kolkata because I love Kolkata and that’s because my parents are buried there. But how do I prove my love because I am woefully disadvantaged by the fact that my heart doesn’t have a tongue.

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