On 31 March, when Durga was released on bail from a prison in Mumbai, her jailer… took a chance and asked if any of the other inmates being released the next day would take Durga, a destitute mother of two children, to their home until the lockdown was lifted. The only one to offer her shelter was 22-year-old Zeba.
The two women had been incarcerated in the same prison, but didn’t know each other until they were released on bail. When Zeba,… one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city, arrived home with Durga in tow, her family was surprised, but quickly welcomed her. “We were a bit taken aback that Zeba had got an extra person with her, but her religion doesn’t matter. We have not been raised with this Hindu-Muslim hate you see all around,” said Nadia, Zeba’s elder sister.
While many Indians are occupied in peddling hate – whether it is over the anti-CAA protests, the Tablighi Jamaat incident, the creation of separate wards for Hindus and Muslims in a Ahmedabad hospital, the recent Palghar lynching or the vicious attacks on jailed Jamia student Safoora Zargar – Zeba and Durga’s story stands out by offering hope that ordinary Indians can display humanity even in the most difficult of circumstances.