The tailor master Fakku mian’s shop was just opposite to our house.
We were separated by playgrounds, on both side and Highway in between.
I remember watching him stitching clothes since I was four years old.
It was interesting watching him running the sewing machine so fast. Everyone addressed him as tailor master.
My mother used to send me with material to stitch frocks, pajamas or whatever, with full instructions. He would follow them exactly except when it came to us three sisters’ frocks. Frills from neck to waist, well not exactly down to waist, but covering knees fully.
No argument there. Mother used to alter them according to her taste, to please us, which was not much different from him.
It was same till I started stitching my clothes myself but still under mother’s strict observation.
No tight fitting or above knee dresses were allowed. Anyway we had to wear salwar, kamij with dopatta, so it didn’t matter much.
Well, this story is not about my dresses but my first encounter with riots.
Till then we were living happily in a cosmopolitan society.
We celebrated all festivals with same fervor and zeal.
Then one day, over some love affair between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl, everything changed.
Both communities became thirsty of each other’s blood.
Everyone knows what happens in riots. How goons and fanatics from both sides lynch, loot and do all types of heinous crimes to innocent people from both sides.
I will not go in details. I think my short story, I wrote way back will suffice.
‘Rioters burned the tailor’s shop.
When the curfew was lifted, he came and sat down in despair on seeing the ramshackle shop.
Mother called him and offered him our old singer machine for the time he could buy his own.
He was thankful and offered to stitch our clothes for free.
Mother strongly rejected the idea.
‘You need money to buy a new machine so start your business first to save money.’
Mother was a conservative Hindu and the tailor was a Muslim.
Mother sowed a seed of compassion in me that day.’