A half-blood tale from India

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Growing up is a slow process. The pace at which we age, is mostly determined by the speed at which a tired out ancient planet moves around a hot ball of gas. We tire and retire along with it. In the process of narrowing down definitions trying to figure out whether we have grown up or not, the human race has successfully linked cosmic movement to breaking one’s neighbor’s newly fixed glass pane with a cricket ball and managing to go scratch-free henceforth. As human beings we have an undeniable urge to define. And then there is magic!

At the age of eleven, right about the time when Harry set foot for the first time on Platform 9 ¾ , I picked up my first Rowling. I was confident. I had read my Tin Tin, Asterix, Feluda, and even bits of Roald Dahl. My world was smug, comfortable, complete. What more could there be right? And then something broke. On a rainy night, Hagrid appeared to say ‘You’re a wizard Harry!’ The words stuck in my mind. I was the same age. Maybe I didn’t know things. Maybe my parents were hiding things from me. I searched the house for things which seemed unfamiliar to me. I found one such. It later turned out to be my father’s expensive cologne which he kept hidden in his almirah because I fancied myself a Sourav Ganguly, and anything that remotely resembled a bat was inevitably in danger! The thing was smooth, shiny, sparkling, magical. It said ‘Eau de Cologne’. ‘Surely this must be a spell’ I thought. I knew my English well, and the alphabets were the same. Yet it made no sense. I later learnt about potions class. Dad was Snape!

It was in the same year that my paternal grandparents moved in with us. I had already finished Prisoners of Azkaban, and my ‘wizard’ moment had still not arrived. I was starting to feel disappointed in life. What with all the mathematics and exams! Huh! Muggle stuff. Maybe I was muggle afterall. I looked at my sister and said, ‘Hey there fellow muggle! I guess you’ll be doing math too for the rest of your life’. My sister was about five years in muggle count, and she looked at me teary eyed, and wailed. It was all so commonplace. And then my mother came in and thrashed me soundly for having made my sister cry, which too I must admit was quite ordinary. But Dumbledore has his own ways of summoning people, and my moment arrived soon enough.

On the 14th of November, 2004, it was Children’s Day. My family and I, along with my paternal grandparents were visiting Chapra, a one-horse town tucked away some distance from Krishnagar. My paternal cousins were visiting too. I had a colonial upbringing in government quarters, and had never really had the chance to grow up with my extended family. This seemed new. Finally something less ‘everyday’ I thought! We arrived at my grandparents’ house, and while everyone unpacked, I noticed a ‘Genie’ looking man walking around outside. It was exactly as in the Arabian Nights. Baggy pants, pointy shoes, curly beard. He had it all! I was intrigued. 

‘Who is that?’ I asked

‘Jafar’, replied my grandfather.

The magic had begun. 

The next morning my mother dressed me in a new set of clothes. I was told that we were going to an ‘Eid Gah Moidan’. I had no clue what that was. Jafar, the evil magician, was driving us there, and I cannot till this day say that I trusted his intentions completely. When my father stepped out of the house, he had shed his ‘proper’ civil servant wear. In his long robe he looked like the Grand Vizier. I had never known this man before! My world was no longer smug, comfortable, complete. And while I sat at the back of the car trying to define the situation, like muggles ordinarily do, my grandfather settled in next to me. He read my confusion quizzically, and finally whispered,

‘Has nobody told you yet?’

I widened my eyes. My ‘wizard’ moment was here.

‘You’re half Muslim son!’

There! I knew my parents were keeping secrets from me. I got out of the car, ran up to my sister, and told her that we would not be doing math anymore for much longer! We were magical! She wailed her approval, and my mother thrashed hers on my back. But what did I care. I was a half blood like Harry Potter. But wait! I was half-Muslim. What was Muslim? Was this Arabian Nights and Harry Potter mashed up together? Awesome!

We went like Shahryars, Grand Viziers and Jafars to the grand wizarding congregation called ‘Eid Gah Moidan’ where I heard of this man called the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. His name was long and exotic. ‘This must be Dumbledore’ I thought. My father, well his muggle name is Swapan. I was starting to doubt whether he too had some exotic magical name. A sound knock on the head told me, that he didn’t. My mother Sunrita, my sister Irina, myself we all had muggle sounding names. But muggles we no longer were! And then the chanting began. The spells were in a foreign tongue and it had a hypnotic effect on the congregation, lined up in neat rows called ‘qatars’. Wow! Rows had magical names too. Even the seemingly most ordinary things had a magical semblance. I swayed to the chants as the men in front of me did. Thus began my half-Muslim wizarding journey and I was ready to wave my wand at the Jafars of the world!

It has been almost thirteen years since that day. Stand up comics of the likes of George Carlin, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Cosby, Jeff Dunham, Chris Rock and more recently Trevor Noah and Hasan Minhaj are the only people who have helped keep the wizard in me alive. Muslim Dumbledore is passé. Voldemort supposedly dead, but still lurking around somewhere. Harry is a father now, and I- a civil services aspirant. I memorize policies now, which I assure you are no less complex than the toughest of spells. Ah well! We did have to do math forever afterall.

‘Did you know ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is up for release next?’ jumps my sister.

Well! Maybe it wasn’t all about the math afterall!     

Featured Image Credits: Pexels

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