Prashant Dayal (Deewal Part-70): Mohammed sent in his application in the morning, and the same afternoon after the afternoon closure was lifted, a guard came to the barrack asking for Mohammed as jailer Kaushik Pandya has called him. Mohammed quickly got up, wore his slippers and was about leave when Yunus looked at him, puzzled. Mohammed, signaling with his eyes to Yunus as not worry. Mohammed knew why he was being called by Pandya, but when the curious guards who were taking Mohammed to Pandya’s office asked him why was the jailer calling him, Mohammed joked, “You are the one who came to take me to him, aren’t you supposed to be aware? How do I know what is it?” The guard gave out a laugh. He then inquired with Mohammed if he has settled in the new barrack, to which Mohammed replied, “We have no choice but to settle in there. It is not our house where we could do get what we wish.” As their conversation continued, they had reached the main gates of the jail and moved towards the offices next to it. The guard informed the SRP jawan outside the office entrance that they have come to meet the jailer. The jawan then checked Mohammed head to toe to confirm he is not carrying any contraband. They let them in and the guard stood outside the door while Mohammed knocked. He then slightly opened the door and peeped his head inside, “May I come in sir?” he asked. Jailer Kaushik Pandya had a cup of tea in his hand, which he put down on seeing Mohammed, placed both elbows on his desk and said, “Yeah Mohammed, please come in” “Sir you called me?” asked Mohammed.
The jailer began to look for something among the papers lying on his desk and pulled out a piece of paper, which was the application sent in by Mohammed this morning. “So Mohammed you sent in some application today?” asked the jailer and began to read the application. Now the jailer was weak at English, and the letter was written in English by Mohammed. But just like any Gujarati, Pandya too would never accept the fact that his English is weak. Mohammed was enjoying watching the jailer go through the trouble and struggle reading his application. Mohammed now began to look closely at the CCTV footages being played on a TV screen in Pandya’s cabin. The jailer noticed this and suddenly picked up the remote from his desk and switched the TV screen off. Mohammed was finding all this hilarious, but he didn’t let his amusement show in his face. Jailer Pandya, acting as if he has completely understood the application, said, “Mohammed I can’t approve this” Mohammed was surprised by this, he knew Pandya couldn’t understand a thing that was written in his application, then how come he reject it right away. “Sir why are you rejecting my application?” asked Mohammed, to which Pandya replied that their demands have been increasing a lot these days and he can’t help them anymore as such. “In that case, I guess I will have to file an application in the court itself,” said Mohammed, with a tinge of threatening in his voice. Pandya got worried when he heard this and said, “Mohammed it is not feasible to take all your applications to the court every time.” “But sir this is the question of our religious freedom which you can’t stop us from following” This petrified Pandya more as now he couldn’t afford the tag of an opposer of Islam. He picked up the application again and read it once more, trying to find the word Islam mentioned it, but in vain. He got angry, slamming his fist on the table, he asked, “What do you want Mohammed?” “Sir I want a compass” “What? Compass? are you in school that you want a compass” Mohammed was amused to know that Pandya thought when Mohammed asked for a compass, he literally thought he was asking for a school-going kid’s compass box. Though Mohammed could speak chaste Gujarati, he was finding it hard to explain to the jailer what he is asking for is a geographical tool. “Sir, I mean that round tool, we use for looking at directions” Pandya looked clueless while Mohammed had an expression of helplessness on his face.
Pandya immediately remembered something and called for a certain jail guard who used work in his office. While Pandya was someone who reached his current position on the basis of his affiliations to people in power, the guard he had called in was an educated policeman, a graduate. He was basically more educated that jailer Pandya was and would handle the case papers that would come from the court, written in English. “Mohammed tell this guy what you want and ask him to explain it to me” Mohammed informed the guard what he wanted and the guard who knew both Gujarati and English, told the jailer what exactly Mohammed wanted. Hearing that Mohammed was actually asking for something that is a geographical device used to find directions, he asked, “Mohammed why do you want this, you guys are jail inmates, not sailors or boatmen.” “Of course we’re boatmen, who are going to sail through the tunnel under your feet,” said Mohammed inside his head. He then continued to explain that they are Muslims who practice Islam and while praying, their head needs to be facing the holy stone of Kaba. Pandya, as usual, was lost and clueless about what Mohammed was telling, but he asked, “And which direction does this fall?” “To the west of Ahmedabad.” “What’s the big deal? The sun rises in the east here... and sets on this side, there this is the west... Why need a compass?” Mohammed, now with a serious look and a stern voice said, “Sir, this is our religious freedom and no government in the world is supposed to stop us from following it.”