Having been born in the pre- partition era, I remember having seen the Hindus and Muslims living together as good neighbours. In adjoining houses. With common walls. Meeting , eating laughing and chatting fondly with each other. Sometimes, more than once during a day. All looked alike. Spoke the same language. Relished similar food Wore similar clothes. I vividly recall the ladies exchanging the sweet or other items of food across the wall on the first floor without any hesitation. There were no phones or cells. Just a shout was audible and enough. Next moment, the dish was on the table and the contents on the respective plates. Only to vanish before anyone could even realize it. All were just the same simple human beings. Grew up together. No difference of any kind. All Birds of a feather. And invariably, they did flock together.
Then came the year 1947. While leaving, the Rulers partitioned the country. So were the people divided. Those who were born in the same city, had played and grown up together were separated by man-made borders. Who is where? Probably nobody can tell. But certain events leave an indelible impact. May I share?
It was the year 2010. We had gone to Vancouver and were staying in a Hotel by the sea side. Clean blue water. Snow covered peaks. Mountains with Thick growth of trees; Sea planes continuously taking off and landing – all presented a stunning sight that was crying to be captured.
I had a small SONY cyber shot. But wanted a better one. Went to a Camera shop. The gentleman spent more than two hours in helping me to choose a suitable camera. Ultimately, I chose a CANON D- 60. But Mr. Salim (I hope I remember the name right) at the Cash counter refused to sell the Camera to me when he learnt that I was not a professional and that I took only about 500 pictures in a year. So, he did not want me to waste my money. I Came away disappointed.
Then, the year 2012. Nine members of the family Flew from Delhi to London. We had nine bags. A gentleman speaking Panjabi fluently, who had obviously overheard us talk, offered to get us to the hotel Thistle, for 160pounds in 4 big cars. He even rang up some numbers and introduced himself as Salim. He did not inspire any confidence. So, we took two local cabs. Reached our hotel. The meter was showing 12 pounds. I gave him 25/- for the 2 cabs He returned 5pounds- saying that he had by mistake made a detour. While Salim’s offer was 160 pounds, the English cabby had charged us only 20 pounds. Net saving of 140 pounds.
So, within a short time, we had met two Salims. Except the names and probably the religion as well, they were mutually wide apart.
I had set my heart on the canon Camera. Back in India, I went to a shop. Picked up the camera. Was asked no question. I Paid the price and finally Won my peace.
Can we still say - “The birds of a feather flock together?” Or is it more appropriate to only say? – “It takes all kinds to make this world”