As the azaan sounds on a loudspeaker erected in the compound of the Sarvodaya Residency society in Govindwadi, Kalyan, Dr Ejaz Majeed, dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, shuffles out of the C Wing, where he stays with his family, and makes his way towards a ground floor room set aside for offering afternoon namaaz. He is flanked by friends and relatives, and responds to attempts at conversation with hardly a word or two.
Dr Majeed’s son Arif is among the four young men from Kalyan who have been missing since May and are now suspected to have joined the conflict in Iraq. While the world celebrates Eid-ul-Fitr, four households in Kalyan wore a subdued look.
Arif, along with Fahad Sheikh, Sahil Thanki and Aman Tandel, all staying in the Govindwadi-Dudhnaka belt, are reported to have joined the jihad being waged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“I prayed for my son’s speedy return,” is all Dr Majeed says as he walks back to his house. Since the morning, Dr Majeed has been sitting at his window, staring blankly out into the compound. He did not visit the local mosque to offer namaaz in the morning as per his annual custom every Eid-ul-Fitr.
“There is nothing to say and nothing to do. I can only wait and hope my son comes back to me,” Dr Majeed adds.
Kashif Thanki, whose son Sahil is also among the missing, says he, too, has kept to himself this year.
“We offered namaaz in our house itself and have not met anyone since then. I came to Ambarnath on some personal business while my wife and son have been at home all day. Celebration is the last thing on our mind right now. Besides, every time we step out, someone or the other stops us to ask about our son, and it is like scratching a fresh wound over and over,” says Thanki.
He says he is following up with the Bazarpeth police on an almost daily basis about the status of the search for his son. “The police have been very patient and cooperative with me. I have placed all my faith in the Almighty.”
Iftikhaar Khan, whose nephew Fahad Sheikh is also missing, says his family too observed Eid in a restrained manner. “We are of the belief that whatever drowns in water has to surface one day or the other. Hence, we are going to have faith and patience, and wait for the truth about these four children to come to light,” he says.