Tuesday, November 27, 2007

House looted, but all not lost


House looted, but all not lost

Daudpur, Nov. 26: Mustarun Bibi’s hands trembled as her fingers flipped through the pages. “The Quran has been spared,” she mumbled while taking out the holy book from a small velvet box tucked in a corner of the mud wall.

From a distance, her mother-in-law China Khatun looked up in disbelief.

China’s grandsons Arif and Maroof ran around making their way through heaps of shattered roof tiles.

Outside, Sheikh Imadul walked around taking stock of the devastation. “I had re-built the house with almost 5,500 tiles. More than half of them have been destroyed. Look there, they didn’t even spare the cowshed,” he said.

Inside, Mustarun and her sister-in-law Mukhreja walked around the ruins of what was once their household — clocks whose arms had been wrenched off, smashed tube lights, iron trunks whose locks had been broken and the insides emptied.

On the veranda, an election poster of the Congress candidate in the 2004 general election hung loosely.

“We have been Congress supporters for ages and there is nothing to hide it. But we were never made to feel so miserable because of our political affiliation,” China said.

She held up a hand fan and added: “We got this in the trunk. The ornaments are gone.”

Imadul, a quack popularly known as “daktaarbabu”, walked up a flight of steps and looked into his sister’s room.

Ameesha Patel and Juhi Chawla were still smiling on the mud walls. Rekha was stunning with a ray of sun streaking through the broken tiles and across her face.

“The tiles...” Imadul couldn’t care less about the posters.

Mukhreja loves films. The television set, beside a two-seater cane chair where Imadul had left behind in a box, was intact.

According to officials, around 150 families returned home on Thursday, the biggest batch until this morning.

Sadika Bibi, who stays a few huts away from Mustarun’s, said: “They had decided to set our house on fire and even poured kerosene all over. I fell at their feet and begged them to spare us. They left after damaging our TV, the CD-player and the ceiling fan.”

Like Mustarun, Sadika had fled home for her relative’s house.