It’s half three in the morning. The effects of the brandy that I nursed, while both father and daughter stared at the tele in utter dismay, have worn off. Went to bed early, thinking ek naya din hoga, but the nightmares woke me up a while ago…it’s pitch dark outside.

Flashes of conversations shouldn’t be called nightmares. But not everyday does the discourse sink so low that it actually makes you want to leave your country! A month ago I returned home shaking, the apparent ‘debate’ which was nothing more than the ghost of Arnab, entering the body of someone I had seen growing up, asked me to move to Pakistan if I so disliked standing for the national anthem, in a movie theatre. The national anthem not being my issue, the appropriateness of the venue and the subtle ways in which we are being reprogrammed, being my worries. I merely suggested a few other places little knowing that it would lead to a yelling match in a hospital. The convent education and my natural reaction to shut up when faced with someone who just doesn’t want to listen, calmed the situation down, which is the ugliest discourse, I’ve ever been a part off. The trolls sending messages, calling one a terrorist mean nothing. When you see the face of someone, convulsing with hate, that has a deep, lasting impact.

‘Why don’t you marry a Muslim man?’ asked my friend the other day. ‘You even look like us!’ she exclaimed. Don’t worry, she wasn’t trying to convert me, it was just her way of finding out if I was dating someone, she and most people I know suspect, I’m seeing. Knowing about my past affairs, should have made people around me better at the guessing game, seeing that I’m not a hysterical mess (means there’s no one particular guy). ‘ Now, I can’t! The man will be scared, to raise his voice, unless he’s wealthy or well connected and then I’ll have to be scared!’ I tried to keep it low key for her, benefit. I couldn’t tell her about the awful, Islamophobic bullshit, I’d heard repeatedly over the years. To find a man with a strong spine was hard enough, to find a Muslim man, who is vocal about his dissent would be even tougher. The dissent slips into my messenger, but isn’t ever public.

Everything plays on my mind, right now. The Babri Masjid, my dad telling me about neighbours who were unwilling to give him shelter in their house, during the ’84 riots. The Kashmiri pandit exodus, someone asking me if I am Khalistani? Kafur, remarked a lady in a village. All the hate plays on my mind, in a loop. I deleted yet another person, who in her andh bhakti, forgot her manners. Relationships have been lost at the altar of power, I suspect over the next few years, many more will die, quite abruptly. The hate won! Everything that was hushed in murmurs is now, part of our daily discourse. My Hindu friends, feel scared in this country (no guesses of what) the less than 2% of us should be terrified!