One meaning of the word ‘Ishaan’ is the ‘bestower of riches.’ Ishaan was a dreamer – or so some have named him. Along with his two friends he grew up in a small town in India, living each day with zest.
When others were working hard, Ishaan would be dreaming. About cricket. About inswingers and outswingers, about mid-on and mid-off. The whole cricket field was his playground. So he persuaded his two friends to begin a cricket academy for the boys in the area.
Ali, the young lad from the basti nearby hooked him for a six for each of his deliveries in an over. Ishaan decided to train him to play for the Ranji and then for India. This was his dream.
It was difficult. But Ishaan was a dreamer. So while one of his friends slogged away at being a Maths teacher (with a perpetual frown on his face) and the other’s jaw drooped even lower the more he involved himself in politics, Ishaan, like an idiot, was on the grounds training Ali. Once he even barged into Math professor’s class (because Ali was in it), rubbed the board of those dreary Maths equations, and drew the field –on and off – to explain to Ali the chinks in his armour and how to develop his game.
And then there was trouble in the city. One community was at the throats of the other. Leaders were inciting the sheep to spill blood. Ishaan and Ali were from different communities.
With the mob at the door at night, Ishaan spirits away Ali and his father to the terrace. One of the mob – his friend, now a politician – surges through and chases Ali. But young Ali is Ishaan’s dream. So he shields him with his body, protects him from the bullet which his friend fires at them. Bang. Ishaan is history. It’s okay. He was a dreamer.
Years later, Ali plays for India. Every stroke, every defensive move, is textbook Ishaan. Ali remembers. The nation forgets.
How did a dreamer produce such results? Why was he stupid enough to be so bold? Did he not know of another dreamer who had a similar name as his who met the same fate?
Ehsan Jafri, also helped people and had to pay for it with his life. He was burnt alive in his own home with his family watching. He was 73.
Ehsan was an Urdu poet, Ishaan Bhatt was a top class cricketer. They dared to be human beings. All they did was to help someone in distress. Kai Po Che was released at the same time of the year the riots happened. Ehsan left us on 28 February 2002. Here is his daughter’s favourite couplet by him:
Kaam mushkil se hi aasaan banaana hoga
Husn-o-tadbeer se imkaan banaana hoga
Yun to bhagwaan bana daale hazaaron ham ne
Ab har ek shakhs ko insaan banaana hoga.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on 17 March 2013
Pix source: milligazette.com