“Jaffar az Bengal, Sadiq az Deccan;
nang-e-deen, nang-e-millat, nang-e-watan”
Moulabi Saheb recited it to us in a desolate tone. He went to the days of despair when Siraj Ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal faced his darkest day in the garden of Palasy. The darkness was so colossal that it immersed the history of sub-continent into an abyss. The verse means “Mir Jafar of Bengal and Sadiq of Decan are disgrace to the faith, disgrace to nation, disgrace to country.” He still thinks that it was only Mir Jafar who let the British enter. It was only Mir Jafar for whom his nawab Wajid Ali Shah left his riches in Oudh and exiled to the port of Kolkata. It was only Mir Jaffar for whom his Hindustan has been divided into three pieces.
We were sitting at the gigantic front landing of Nakhoda Masjid, the biggest of the city, listening to the tales from Moulabi Saheb. The big blue sky, the high minarets of the Masjid, the Moulabis in the white dress, created an illusion of another city or another time from the past. We have traveled back to ages of Mughals or maybe a city of the Mughal Empire where during the dusk you would discuss history, politics, religion while listening to the songs of prayer coming from the streets.
When the time starts traveling to four, the street duelers, the travelers, the employees, the employers, the Poor, the Rich, the leader, the followers start washing their hands with sacred water and proceed to the prayer hall. They sit facing west. The last rays of the setting sun can hardly illuminate the enormous prayer hall. The shadows of the uncountable pillars supporting the halls, the fragmented light coming from the thousand holes of the windows, the golden rays on colored glass, take the place far away from the chaotic and complex world we live in, to a world you read in the nostalgic stories of the middle east.
The Masjid has several floors. Even though every floor is identical in the structure, they are not the same in the mood. The further you go up the more silent the building becomes. The silence of the bookshelf, the silence of the empty chair, the silence of homeless man lying on the checkered floor, the silence of the reader of Quran will engulf you. The familiar voice of the pigeons reminds you of those lonely afternoons you have spent in various places and various time.
While returning, I was looking at the sky of our city. The color is the same but the shape, the giant shadows of minarets has changed to a tiny piece of reddish blue covered by the haphazard formation of electric wires and unplanned high-rises of the metropolis. As the sky changed, the silence of the mosque broke by the passerby, the business chant of shopkeepers, the long trams, the yellow taxis, and the eternal chaos of the dense street of the city. However, the notion of silence, the desolate tales of another time, the shadow of the pillars formed by the last ray of setting sun was still lingering in my mind.