The following essay tells about the writer’s educational institution where he used to teach. He feels the place to be a grand one, metaphorically, when it comes about the internal composition. The article reflects on the nativity, religion and orthodox beliefs of people.
Building is a place which confines human lives, human behaviour and his way of living. Buildings have been a mark of different human uses since time immemorial. Early man used to live in the dens or the houses made of wooden branches especially coexisted with man’s and animal’s family. Through a peep into history, we come across great royal hall of Versailles where the peace treaty between two groups of WWI took place, Taj Mahal built in the memory of the most lovable Mumtaz Mahal by her affectionate paramour Shahjahan, World Trade Centre of U.S. famous for callous attack of September 2011, Kaaba, the Islamic Sacred Mosque at which direction Moslems face during prayer and the great Sphinx of Egypt which is a wonder of Architectural flair. The significance of buildings stretches from Economy to Society, Life to Death and even Polity to Wonder.
My reference of buildings in different hues of human life and activities rests at a common building which is very common at the door but too massive in value and meaning indoor. The present era of 21st Century is governed by the nebulous ill-will of one industrialist against another, one country against another or one religion against another. To exaggerate the status quo, the
ill-will of a brother against his own brother. Amidst such world lies a building, a bit insipid if relatively described against the above mentioned world-wide structures, but the most renowned and worshipped by the people who are the part of that. To add a literary essence I say, even the walls, doors and every minute part of concrete used in the construction would have felt, ‘How lucky we are to confine such different realms of human beings!’
I am going to detach the awaiting thrill from your cerebrum. The building is the institute in which I teach. Teaching brings a vision of two words, most precisely, two characters: teacher and students. My referred building is a small institute in the city I live in. It is a small city but for a few years it has gained a glorious title of ‘Educational Hub’ which hosts the students who are chiefly dreaming for the towering careers in Engineering and Medical stream. 21st century is an odd emergence of human efforts. It gives fodder to every brain to think over and sometimes to their unwanted actions as well, being imposed and enforced upon others. This fact has been witnessed by the first half of the 2010s.
There is the whole staff of teachers and it is a wonder to see that in the world which is driven by the depressing values of life as aversion, greed, insecurity and war, my institute is an exception. The first thing is about the members of the staff who belong to the different religions pearled in the garlanded round earth. We have 10 members in staff though the number fluctuates ending to 7 sometimes. To add glory, there is every religion found in the staff. Two directors in collaboration, one is Christian and the other is Hindu from Kerala (though I never dared to ask his sub caste). Among the staff one is Muslim who is an epitome of Allah (if anyone knows the meaning of this word) and one is Hindu Brahmin who is I.
Everyone would find it agreeable when I would tell that at the time of Ramzan (the sacred month of fasting for Muslims followed by Eid) our Muslim member was allowed to eat his dues of fasting and speak his prayers commemorating Allah and his prophets. The same was allowed to all those students who belong to the same religion. They were given the time to say their prayers and fed themselves on the food they brought.
The other instance is the place of worship in office. In the offices of India, in every business person’s building, you will find a shelf mainly dedicated to Gods/Goddesses. In my institute, we have the same place in the office. People think it brings blessings, harmony and finance, keeping God at the place where management and money acts are discussed and thence resolved. There are the portraits of every religious deity. Lord Krishna with a chakra in his hand, Lord Ganesha (Elephant head God endowed with problem solving tact), Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity), Lord Shiva; Jesus Christ and scriptures associated with various religious sects. There is the Bible, the Gita, and the Ramayana and sooner we are going to have a Koran as we have urged our Muslim member to deck the shelf with that scripture too.
Religious disparities may take different forms at different places. Some people call them superstitions, others call them narrow-mindedness. It is certain we never matter the person sitting beside us in a restaurant to what religion he belongs, but at home our religious conscious vein discriminates much that we never allow a Dalit touch out utensils, or a Muslim entering our kitchen.
I recall a personal case which accentuates the severity of such disparities. During my school days I had all friends irrespective of different religions. One day a Muslim friend of mine accompanied me till home. I insisted him to come in the house though he was getting late and inclined to leave right from the doorway. He entered and I offered him a glass of water from pitcher as it was too hot to bear outside. He even had the drops of perspiration on his forehead. I had wiped those drops on mine till then at home. He drank and left in hurry lest he had got late to reach home. It was not long before that my Granny returned home and asked me about him. She had seen a figure of human getting out of the main door as she had been at a neighbour very next to the house. I mentioned his name. Muslim’s name in my country are too common to recognize. She asked with a questioning gesture, a Muslim. I reacted, ‘Yes’. She said, ‘Did you lead him to worshipping room?’ ‘No.’ ‘Good,’ she said. ‘But I only welcomed him with a glass of water,’ I added as she was about to turn with a sigh of relief. ‘What! You are going to pollute this house. Where is the glass?’ she yelled in the same gesture as I had seen in an apocalyptic Hollywood movie when a woman gestured to the coming disastrous earthquake. Before I could say anything she scanned the whole room and spotted a glass at the window sill and desperately beckoned with a question, ‘That one?’ I gave the affirmation. She discarded the glass as a white mouse is discarded from dark coloured ones. The next morning it was given to the sweeper who came to sweep the road in front of our house.
Such is the discrimination of Indian society. Still in many villages of India, even in 21st Century, these bigotry ideas prevail. Talking about our institute, I am very happy we use the same utensil from the same kitchen and even once shared the same bowl of soup with our staff members though the spoons were particular for everyone. We are the whole family ignorant of those discriminatory beliefs which are fatal to the world. I wish we remain the same ever.