A shared humanity transcended every other question in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, when a Hindu man who died of cancer was carried to the cremation ground here by his neighbour who were all Muslim.
The person who died, Ravi Shankar, was very poor and had been living among Muslim neighbours in Mohalla Anand Vihar of Bulandshahr city for a long time. He was living with his wife and two sons. The financial condition of the family was quite weak. But Ravi Shankar’s Muslim neighbours have been supporting them in every way.
If people of the area are to be believed, they never considered the deceased man as different from them in any way and the funeral was performed according to Hindu traditions and customs. Onlookers were surprised to see how Muslims were saying ‘Rama naam satya hai’ or ‘The name of Rama is the truth’, as they carried his bier up to what Hindus traditionally believe is the door of salvation.
One of Ravi Shankar’s sons said that that because of the lockdown, some people could not come for the funeral. The Muslims took [the body], he said, and later others joined.
In fact, such examples of humanity are rarely seen in the country these days, especially amidst the havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, when landlords and employers compelled lakhs and lakhs of poor workers and their families to leave their homes and places of work in the cities and set out on foot to their villages. But perhaps it is due to ordinary Indians – such as Ravi Shankar’s neighbours – that humanity is alive today.