Noor came out of his home happy and satisfied with his work. His work meant the prawn curry that he had cooked for the dinner. He loved sea food especially shrimps, prawns. lobsters, while most disliked shelling them because eit was tedious and messy, he found it therapeutic.
Morning he had a tough time going to work as the roads had been blocked because of the procession, he knew that the next 2-3 days might be troublesome, so what he did was going to the central market and got a tub full of prawns; at least he would not go hungry for the next 2-3 days. He had also stocked up on vegetables, milk etc.
And so he was now going to buy khaboos ( a local bread of mixed flour cooked in an earthen ‘tandoor’) Afternoons it was rice for him, evenings usually khaboos with some curry.
And so he moved towards the khaboos shop, the streets were not that crowded, just some expats with a worried expression. ‘Silly people’, he thought what was there to be so worried about, the government supported expats, so what was there to be worried about?’
‘Aeeeeeeeeeey’, he heard a scream, he looked up to see a Filipino pointing something at his back, he turned to see a couple of guys coming towards him with swords, chains, sticks and then Noor understood.
He ran; he ran as if there was no tomorrow, across alleys and when he was sure that they were quite far away, he entered a building ran up the staircase into the terrace and sat there panting, three other people had joined him, two Bangladeshi and one Filipino and they all sat panting and Noor was afraid that they might be heard down below.
‘What had happened to his beloved country, yes, it was his country. He had come here when he was only 15, yes his passport showed that he was 18. It was almost 30 years since he had been here. He had come here as an office boy and today he was a salesman at a trading company. Not a small feat for a person whose father had been a farm hand in Honavar in North Karnataka. His father might have lived in poverty but he had seen that he had died in comfort. Today Noor had a seven bedroom villa back home for his and his brother’s family. His three kids were all educated, how, all because of this wonderful country. ‘Why, this anger against expats, he thought’, ‘ we have not snatched their jobs, we do work that they don’t do, we have helped to build this country and its economy, so why this anger?’
He sat thinking, the minutes ticked by, now and then he would peep down below, ‘those people’ were prowling’ about. Then he thought he had to alert his friends and began calling them on his mobile,’Bahar mat nikalna, Manama mein khatra hain’ (Don’t come out, danger in Manama).
It was midnight when it was absolutely quiet and the group decided to eke out. Noor decided against going to his place and instead went to his friend Ashraf’s place. HE knocked on the door but Ashraf did not open it obviously thinking that it must be one of the mobster. Then Noor called him on his mobile and the door was opened. Ashraf gave him food and drink and they sat in shock. But then Noor knew he had to return home, conditions might worsen and it was better if he was at home, in case they had to return to India, his passport was at his place.
And so at 4 am he ventured towards his home, cautious, hiding behind buildings, alert for any noise, shoes in hand he ran. He ran and entered his home and let out a sigh, “home sweet home” but for how long he wondered.
This is the dramatisation of actual events that happened on March 13th in this island. Two days later a ‘State of National Safety’ was implemented and situation was brought under control but for about 72 hrs many people like Noor who had stayed in this place for long had been in a state of shock, refusing to believe the events that were happening.
It was also a day that I learnt that no one is actually good or bad it is the situations that make us so. And also that never to let one’s emotions run wild, before every action it’s always good to analyse.
The actions that were done on the 13th of March when tempers ran high led to a breach in trust, it was a night which kindled insecurity and a night when neighbours became enemies. Such a shame!!