I have had never heard my parents expressing reservations against the fact that one in my core group at the school was a Muslim.
That hardly mattered in the affair of the "Group of Five" in my class of which I was a member. We never had to bother about the differences of being Hindus and Muslims except for when we studied them in the class books.
But even than have had no idea how my parents, especially Maa (we call mother as), would react to Alam's presence in our house.
But will she accept the fact that I invited Aalam too to my house? It's something never happened. At least to my knowledge, never one from the Muslim community paid a visit to our family before this (even though there were no restrictions in our locality).
But numerous stories I have read in the news papers and magazines about people from a community treating visitors from the other communities in ways different from the normal were just striking me.
Adding to my anxiety was the humiliation I had passed through once when I was a child. An upper caste family I visited was not hospitable enough to allow me drink a glass of water inside their house.
I knew nothing like that will happen in our family. "But I will not be able to bear any incidence that will make him feel a fraction of the humiliation I went through."
With mind busy in finding ways to stop anything unwanted, I failed to concentrate on whatever studies we were doing...
Finally there was the dreaded moment. Maa returned home and the first thing I have to do was to introduce my friends (about whom she has heard a lot earlier). Against all my fears and worries there was no deflection on her face when I introduced Aalam.
"Maa, he is Shah Aalam, science wizard of the class." She had a common discussion with all about the warm weather outside and left us with our studies. Much more relaxed, still I was preparing myself for anything worst.
After sometimes Maa appeared with cold drinks and all of us were sharing chips from the same plate (something we do not have to worry about earlier and luckily today too).
Even lunchtime was no different, as if to assure me that all the indignations I was having was just a creation of my mind. That I never heard parents talking about the differences of being Hindus and Muslims as they too do not bother about them...
And it was perhaps not merely a coincidence that the next Eid was a huge celebration for us, the “Group of Five”. Especially for me...