Guest post by SAIDALAVI P.C.
“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity”
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
On the evening of 21 February, 2015 I and my friend walked through the narrow lines of Vasant Kunj, New Delhi looking for an accommodation for him. On both sides of narrow roads, three-storied buildings blocked sun rays reaching the ground. Here and there scrapheap assaulted our nostrils and a flock of bees and mosquitoes hovered around the area keeping watch. Our eyes waded through the gates of the buildings looking for a signboard announcing vacancies. We pushed a gate open and entered the building looking for the owner. A middle-aged man announced his presence pushing his belly in front of him. We asked, room koi khali hai, bhayya (Is there any room vacant, brother?) He scrutinised us for a moment. May be nonplussed by seeing no marks of our identity (we are clean shaven, well-dressed, normative secular self with supposedly a neutral identity in public) he was bit confused and his lips contorted a bit towards the left. Impassively, he nodded us to follow him since the room was on the second floor. My friend was visibly satisfied by the room, it was well-furnished, with a bathroom, kitchen and a balcony. He said he would take it. Listening to it, the owner’s face had taken a bit more serious expression, and at last he asked what our names are. It seemed our neutral identity was the bomb he wanted to diffuse. The moment we uttered our names, his facial expression changed into one who is caught by colic, he was startled and flushed, and his ears instantly became red. We were unable to make sense of what he was thinking. Then, he spoke hoarsely and told us to leave immediately. He said that if he had known earlier that we were Muslims, he wouldn’t have invited us to see the rooms. He never let rooms to Muslims. We tried to reason with him by asking why he is not renting it to Muslims.