‘Oh please don’t start acting like a Mullah, you.’
‘What’s up with the unshaved face? Don’t tell me you are turning into a Mullah. Or should I call you Maulvi Sahab?’
‘Paanch waqt namaz bachay? Khariyat hai na, Madrassah jana tou shuru nahi kar dia?’ (Five times prayers kiddo? Everything alright or have you started attending Madrassah?)
We witness this attitude frequently. And there are even more of such people. They would call you Ninja/Taliban-lady if you’ve started covering recently, would call you Maulvi Sahab if you are a guy and cover your head while a ‘fundo’ behind your back; they would look at you shamefully, dubiously and rather hatefully if you are attending a Madrassah, no matter how liberal your views are and how brilliantly you can justify your religious values. It’s amazingly saddening and ridiculous at the same time how easily we stereotype these people based on their mere appearance. It’s a shame how we’ve turned so intolerant towards our own people, who would blame US for that!
For three years now, I’ve been witnessing the same scene and every time I see it, it depicts an altogether opposite story of ‘fundo-kids’ (as they might like to call them; judging them by their appearance).
For three years, on my way back from university through the same route of my point, at the circular PPP Secretariat Chaurangi (near Quaid’s Mesoleum), I witness these young kids aged between 10 and 20, dressed in white Shalwar Kameez (though not new but neat anyway) mostly, their Shalwar raised up against ankles, their heads covered with Madrassah cape, some bearded and others waiting for the beard to come, playing football most of the times. And it’s a wonderful sight to watch them playing in that circular area which is big enough for a Chaurangi/Chowk but too small enough for anyone to play football or any other outdoor game (of 2 teams) for that matter. But they still play. Their ball keeps leaving the premises, which is fetched by one of them, crossing the roads and getting it back and the game resumes.
I watch this almost every day whenever I’m coming back in the evening, and although I can see those kids playing for not more than 8 to 10 seconds (I have to strain my neck so as not to lose sight), I laud their confidence of not caring what others think of their appearance while giving me the sense of optimism and making it clear (though unintentionally) that we have young people amongst us who attend Madrassahs, cover their head, show their ankles and play football while the world may blame them for being alleged extremists.