Three and a half Ahmadis and a Shia

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My family moved to Lahore in early 1970s. We rented the lower portion of a house in what was still called Kirshan Nagar, despite being renamed Islampura, probably after the 1965 war. It was an old style house with an open central courtyard. There were two front rooms both having an opening onto the street. The owners lived in the upper portion but they purposefully kept one of those front rooms. They would hold a weekly religious gathering in that baithak.

I was a school going kid then. I probably would have never known what faith this family followed, if there hadn’t been a weekly ijtema in that room. The gathering itself did not arouse any interest in me, as I belonged to a Shia family, similar gatherings were part of my sub-culture too. I was actually attracted to the projector that they used to show certain films. I can now guess that those must be of one of their religious leaders.

My fascination was reserved for that buzzing machine and my inquiry from an elder about that machine and those films and gatherings helped me know, and remember, that they believed in some different faith. I recall no other difference reflecting in the interaction of our two families. We would meet like good neighbours do, and exchange usual pleasantries. If one of us occasionally cooked something special, we would share a bowl full with the other, the aroma of which we could not avoid sharing anyway, living so close to each other.

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