I once heard my mother recite the tale from Ramayana in which Goddess Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, called for mother Earth to engulf her in order to salve her from any more adversities she might have to confront in human life. I too wish that the land had parted under my feet. But I am no Sita, an emblem of truth and purity; and in the deep recess of my heart, sinner as I am, I cannot dare to harbour any hope of forgiveness and redemption.”Farewell remorse:all good to me is lost; evil be thou my good.”
How happy I was till yesterday, eking my humble livelihood by skinning the hides of the dead animals, in my scrimpy shack made snug by my loving wife! But the malignant fate had something else in store for me. As Satan knew well that Eve was the best means of wreaking vengeance on God, that profligate Murad Ali knew that I was the easiest stooge available to him to forge his fiendish designs. Curst greed of gold, what crimes thy tyrant power has caused. And how degraded of me it was to sell my soul, like Faustus, to the devil for a mere sum of Rs. five! For these despicable sinews of war I forgot that I am a tanner whose job is to flay, and not kill the beasts.
On retrospection, I realize that it was not the avarice for money alone that allured me to kill the pig; it was the authoritative personality of Murad Ali as well. As a destitute, I could not dare to offend an influential man like him, a man who proved my benefactor by regularly sending dead animals to me. And if I had offended him, he might have set ruffians on me. Using his influence with the municipality he could have me evicted from his tenement. Moreover I believed in the alibi that the veterinary surgeon urgently required the carcass of a pig for experiment; so there was no way I could say no to him. Thus I can condone myself for being guiltless but history of mankind will never forget that I was the man who played a very foul role in sparking the fire of religious fanaticism. This is the irony of human kind that man is forgotten but not his sins; acts of kindness may soon be forgotten, but the memory of an offense remains.
A shiver runs down my spine to reminisce the fateful encounter between me and that odious pig. The wound in my shin is still green, and its memory gives me a seething pain. After killing the pig, I did not stay in the foul-smelling hut as the gore spilt all over raked my qualms. I could never anticipate that this trivial act of killing a beast will infuriate the religious fervor of people. As fate would have it, I experienced many bad omens, such as the spell cast image made of dough stuck with pricks, and a pot containing horse’s urine mingled with cow-dung, while on my peregrine spree around the town but I could never relate them to the impending disaster.
At dawn, I came by the prabhat pheri team of Congress activists going round the town, and noticed an argument between them and the Muslim League supporters. But as I saw Murad Ali there, I gave a slip from the place. With my body fatigued with the arduous task of killing the pig, and my pocket filled with money, I had nothing on my mind but to eat kabab, drink wine, and buy a garland of flowers for the prostitute Motia. I was lost in gorging on material world never for a moment realizing the infernal world that I had wrought around.
It was only when I reached home that my wife told me that the presence of a dead pig on the steps of a mosque had caused great tension in the Muslim community. My blood coagulated in my guilt and the sky unfolded on me. In inkling I perceived everything, and the satanic plan of Murad Ali was flashed before my leaden eyes. Still I did not confide in my wife that I was the one who had slain that pig, thinking that she would blurt the secret out, thereby endangering his life. I wanted to go to the janitor and enquire of him as to where he had delivered the pig that morning. I also thought of confronting Murad Ali and clear things with him. But I knew that Murad Ali would get me incarcerated by throwing the entire blame on me. At length, when my conscience stung me, I confessed everything to my wife. She was flustered but much to my consternation she did not hold me responsible for the mounting tension in the frontier town, and instead implored god to persecute such devils as Murad Ali.
One could never anticipate that the mere killing of a pig would be so cataclysmic. In retaliation Muslims killed a number of cows and strewed their limbs in Hindu localities. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs forgot the meaning of humanity, and turned brutes in the wake of the communal war. More than 300 villages have been sacrificed at the altar of religious delirium. The beautiful green country was soon transformed into battleground with carnage, massacres, slaughters and conflagrations everywhere. And instead of the beautiful and radiant sunlight what is visible overhead are vultures, kites and other birds of prey. To save their honor many women, along with their children, jumped into their watery graves. Hundreds of women were raped, mutilated and murdered. Thousands of men became victims to religious hatred. In all the loss of lives and property was so indescribable that my sense faints picturing them.
The Indians be they Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs could not realize that the British played drakes and ducks with their lives and fortunes. The policy of the colonizers to set the subjects at loggerheads was personified in officers like Richard who was not affected by the mass scale carnage as the victims were not his people. It was on the provocation of the British only that the Muslims under the leadership of Jinnah demanded a separate nation. I have not been able to understand as to why Murad Ali did it. Was he in league with the British or it was his personal grudge against the Hindus? Or was it his devilish inside that had roused his dormant thirst for blood? I do not know. I only know that the deep scars left by the riots will remain forever without being healed.
What would have happened if instead of a pig I had killed a man? Probably a few years imprisonment-that’s all. But killing of a mere pig can bring the sky down to the earth. It can lead to the end of humanity by making man worse than animal. Man has become so dehumanized that religious bigotry has got the better of humanity. Is it the same man that god made to rule the fish and fowl? He forgets that Fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity, and that it is only one step away from barbarism. I do not know what is in store for us tomorrow. I may not be alive tomorrow but I hope the Indians will learn the concept of unity and fraternity lest it should be too late. I know that my posterity will curse me for my heinous role in the history of India, but I will die happily praying to god that my children and grand children may live in that India where humanity was superior to religion. May they remember,”
“Theological religion is the source of all imaginable follies and disturbances; it is the parent of fanaticism and civil discord; it is the enemy of mankind!.”