Mohammad Gufran grew accustomed to Shaqir’s hand gestures as the day drew on. His best friend of nine years lay still near him, with his eyes shut, and the stab wound next to his ear, throbbing. Gufran poured a little water into Shaqir’s mouth and then attempted to pat away his friend’s pain by slowly massaging his wound. It had been over twelve hours since 23-year-old Shaqir — older brother to 15-year-old Junaid Khan who was stabbed and killed on a Mathura-bound train last week — returned home from the hospital. His brother-in-law had driven him back in his SUV at 2 am on Thursday.
The doctors sent him home with a volley of medicines: an antibiotic, a painkiller, a wound cleansing pill, a strong antacid, and a Vitamin D pill — to be taken daily for 10 days. A little after sunrise, almost the whole of Khandawli village came to see Shaqir. A long queue stretched out, with people lining up one after another to wish him well and offer some words of comfort. “Praise Allah that you are alive. Wish you a speedy recovery,” the village elders said. “People came and stood at the entrance to his room to catch a glimpse and then leave,” his older sister Rabia told The Indian Express.
Shaqir, though, hasn’t said a word. Not even to his wife or children. Earlier in the day, his one-year-old child had lunged at her father when she was taken near him but he gestured her away like he had with Gufran: his right hand rising a few inches above the bed and flopping back limply. “He has not had anything to eat either,” his wife Rubina said. “Half a roti with some moong daal, and bits and pieces of cut papaya. Like you would tear off to feed a child.”
In the large hall across the narrow path outside Shaqir’s house, his father Jalaluddin sat surrounded by men on cushioned mattresses, some of whom had travelled from Kosi Kalan near Mathura. “Why, if he is ‘Hindustan ka Raja’, is he not able to stop these killings?” he said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Gujarat the previous day. “When demonetisation happened, he (Modi) had said the currency notes would be invalid at a particular time, and they were. Usko kehte hein bolna!” he said. “Not this!”
Other men around him began talking in unison: “Please don’t divide Hindus and Muslims. Please don’t divide us…” chanted an elderly Ali Hassan to no one in particular. Someone showed him a WhatsApp message for the dharna at Jantar Mantar scheduled for Sunday in Junaid’s honour. “I doubt I will attend,” said Jalaluddin. “I am feeling tired,” he said, stepping out and lighting a beedi. “Whatever God wills, takes place. Not even a leaf can move without his will.”