I see this guy, has this Johnny Depp kind of a beard and a physique that could make the strictest of gym goers wonder what could be wrong with their workout regimen. Only later do I realize, because of his continued conversations on the phone, that he is a Muslim. He is called Aslam.
So we rode down to the river where the Victorian ghosts pray
For the curses to be broken
We go underneath the arches where the witches are and they say
There are ghost towns in the ocean
He is not a strict Muslim, that much I can see. For he does not do his prayers on the floor but on the train seat itself, with a pillow on his lap. And it is at that moment that the words are spoken to me, the sound in my head —
Gunners in the houses and gunners in my head
And all the cemeteries in London
I see god come in my garden but I donâ€™t know what he said
For my heart it wasnâ€™t open
Suddenly it’s all very clear. That very moment, those few seconds, I cease to see him as Aslam. Instead, I start seeing him as a misunderstood Muslim. And perhaps more importantly, a Muslim that has misunderstood it all. I have not come across many defining moments in my life but I sure know how it is when one happens.
A few days back I read it somewhere and I think it was Bono who said — “Generally, religion gets in the way of God.” I know exactly what Bono meant when he said that. Certainly, this is not about U2 or Coldplay’s latest or Aslam. It’s about identities lost, perceptions — both right and wrong, failures to connect with each other at the human level and a broken hotline with God, to top it all.
Suddenly, it’s all very clear to me.