There was always someone who stood in their way. Five years ago, it was their families, dissuading them, for their religions were different. They married nonetheless. Two weeks ago, they faced questions anew. This time too, they stood their ground. For Mohd Akram and Aisha Akram, who was earlier Anuradha Verma, the riots two weeks ago were only reminiscent of what they faced five years ago. When the riots broke out, Akram’s family asked him to rush to safety with their three children to a relative’s place in Noida.
But Akram knew if their marriage was past, this too shall pass. “When we married, no one was willing to attend our marriage. Our parents dissuaded us. They told us we would never be compatible. Today, we are a happy family of five,” says Akram, a garments store owner in Block 25, Trilokpuri.
“Each time is a test,” says Mohd Wasim, a barber whose wife Sujatha sustained injuries in the stone-pelting. Wasim was away at the time. But the guilt that his own could inflict harm is visible. “My own relatives were involved in the desecration of the mata ki chowki. My wife has read the Quran and offers namaz, and I like attending the jagrans in the area. I can’t understand how people can bring religion into everything.”
Sujatha adds, “Nothing has changed between us. I never converted and my in-laws have never once complained. We want the mata ki chowki to be reinstated as the sounds of bhajans keep the place lively.” Wasim agrees.
A few metres from Wasim’s house live Kausar and Azgar Ali. Kausar was a Hindu who converted to Islam after marriage. The couple left the area when violence broke out and returned only ten days later. “Our neighbours call us traitors. But we ran away to protect our daughter,” she says.
Kausar feels there is no time to take a chance. The family plans to relocate to Laxmi Nagar soon to ensure a better future for their daughter Sana. Kausar recalls how after the violence, her relatives and neighbours called them, asking them to be careful and seek protection if they had to. “Protection from whom? I have lived both lives. No one can protect us except us ourselves.”
(Abhishek Angad & Devi Singh are students of EXIMS)