The Chehlum

by Mudar Patherya

This chehlum, some 4200 Mumineen trooped into Kolkata to hear Huzurala narrate a martyr’s tragedy.

My question: Why?

Why would Mumineen want to fly across the world to weep collectively when they could flick their television on and surf into any laughter channel?

Why would people travel the world to hear the same words describe a 1350-year event when today’s world has otherwise been seduced by the need to hear something new all the time?

Why would Mumenaat beheno queue up outside the Masjid from 1 am when they could be snug under the blanket some other place?

Why would computer-clueless Mumenaat beheno cheerfully go through the challenge of logging their particulars and downloading seat details for the waaz when they could easily complain to the aamil saab and request for an alternative arrangement?

Why would people willingly subject their ankles to torture, scrounge for square inches, carry muscle pains for days when they could be sitting in some corner of a relatively under-populated space that would pick up Huzarala’s voice?

Why would Mumineen willingly pray in the mezzanine saf – the one created impromptu between two formal safs by improvising Mumineen – rather than pray out of sight?

Why would Mumineen place a rumaal for a prayer mat or stand for prayer on someone’s upturned jhokhaa, alternate their sujoods, barely touch their forehead to the carpet when they could easily leave for the last saf where they could enjoy the luxury of rolling out their masalla and communing in peace with their Maker?

Why would elderly Mumineen be willing to endure the stern admonitions of young uniformed volunteers – ‘chalo bhayyo, aa line na paachhal jaao! koi bhi apni jagah so uthjo na!’ – when one could easily say ‘not for me’ and go home?

Why would Mumineen willingly accept their direct vision of Huzurala be abruptly blocked by hulks who rise on their knees for maatam each time He heart-rendingly says ‘Husayyyyn!’ when they could have watched it unimpeded on the close circuit Masjid TV?

Why would Mumineen be willing to risk their topi flying off following the rude impact of the back hand of an enthusiast maatami when he could well have been against a wall somewhere safer?

Why is there a wider dispersal of live television waaz images to the furthest corners of the world and yet an even larger collection of Mumineen at the Masjid to see Huzurala in flesh and blood?

I am not a philosopher but my hunch is that the answer to all these rational questions perhaps lies not in what people see of Huzurala but what they don’t see of Him.