No Rest in Hell

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Published: December 8, 2012

Towards the end of Hamlet, two gravediggers are engaged in an absurd discussion of whether Ophelia deserves a Christian burial or not, having committed suicide. However, they soon realise the futility of the conversation and move on to their job of digging the grave. One gravedigger asks, “What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright or the carpenter?” The fellow gravedigger replies, “The gallow-maker, for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.” The first after some musing ends saying, “A grave-maker. The house that he makes last till doomsday”. The gravedigger is wrong in Model Town, Lahore; not all graves last till doomsday. Some are vandalised earlier. We, unlike the jester gravediggers, have not realised the futility of discussing the legitimacy of burials yet. We today are worse, we attack graves.

Token outrage has been expressed and perhaps some more will be expressed. However, are we really outraged? I don’t think so. Being outraged in this country is becoming too exhausting a job. However, it does lower the spirit that this happened in Model Town, Lahore. Not only because it literally, physically happened in the backyard of the Chief Minister of Punjab’s palatial residence/s. It is also disheartening because this is the Lahore of Madhu Lal Husain. The great Sufi poet Shah Husain and his Hindu friend Madhu Lal are buried together in one shrine. Such is the oneness that not only the shrine but Shah Husain himself is now commonly referred to as Madhu Lal Husain. Shah Husain would not have survived a week in today’s Lahore. This is the Punjab of Baba Guru Nanak, where his birth anniversary is still celebrated by devout Muslims. To this day, Baba Nanak remains a saint (as he should be) to many of the faithful. This is the land where the Kalam of one of the greatest ‘Muslim’ Sufi poet of all times, Baba Farid, has reached us only through ‘Guru Granth Saheb’. I am not sure, how many of those who go to Baba Faird’s urs at Pakpattan know that.

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