The Narmada was flowing serenely but serenity was far far away from Ustad Ghulam Ali’s household. Ghulam Ali’s wife Noori, was in labor for their seventh child. They had six daughters and most of them owed their existence to Ghulam Ali’s strong desire to have a son. Even now as Ghulam Ali was pacing up and down in his room to hear the cry of his son, Noori was fighting for her life in labor. She had become very weak, giving birth to six children in a span of ten years. Now she was trying hard, praying fervently for a baby boy. Her prayers were heard and a baby boy was born to her but the difficult labor took her away from this world, leaving her six daughters wailing behind her. The mid wife called for Ghulam Ali and held out the new born to him. Ghulam Ali could not believe his eyes. The baby was crying and looking at him with light blue eyes.He gently held him in his arms and planting a kiss gently, on his forehead, he said, “Mustafa, my Mustafa.”
Noori was buried and soon Ghulam Ali found himself struggling to look after his seven children. With some insistence, within a period of six months, Ghulam Ali married Noori’s youngest sister, Fauzia. Fauzia took over the role of a mother to all the seven children with great love and care.
Mustafa was barely one year old, when one day while playing on Ghulam Ali’s lap, he suddenly uttered, “Om.”
Ghulam Ali could not believe his ears. He looked at Mustafa in disbelief and heard Mustafa saying again, “ Om.”
A one year baby speaking so clearly! But “Om?” How could this be possible?
Ghulam Ali was completely shaken up. He went and gave the baby into Fauzia’s arms. He could not sleep well that night.
The next morning he went to Fauzia and took the playing Mustafa into his armrs. Mustafa had started walking too. Ghulam Ali took him out in the verandah and let him play. Mustafa started trotting around and again the same word came out of his mouth, “Om!Om!” He was laughing and playing and uttering this word when ever he felt like. Ghulam Ali was astounded. He didn’t know what to do.
Within a month Mustafa was reciting the Gayatri mantra in such a melodious voice that even Ghulam Ali was spell bound. He knew Mustafa was a child prodigy but how did he know Gayatri mantra?The Hindu’s sacred prayer? Soon followed verses from Geeta and Shiv shlokas. Ghulam Ali was nonplussed. A child reciting sacred verses of the Hindus in a muslim household! The word got around and people started raising eyebrows.
Mustafa was a very lovable child. At such a small age, he spoke fluent Hindi as well as Urdu. Ghulam Ali started teaching Mustafa, The Holy Quran. He was amazed how quickly Mustafa picked it. Now he was reciting the Shiv shlokas, Geeta as well as The Quran. He had such melody in his voice that when he sat at the banks of Narmada, singing his soulful shlokas, people would sit at the ghats for hours, soaking in the heavenly music.
Ghulam Ali loved Mustafa deeply and Mustafa reciting Hindu sacred verses actually did not matter to him much. Unfortunately, though, many in the village were not as large- hearted and evolved as Ghulam Ali. They tried to raise a furore on their religion being compromised upon by the five year old Mustafa and Ghulam Ali. Ghulam Ali’s long standing good name and influence did not find it too difficult to calm it down. The hard liners, though were not at all happy about it. They started spreading that Mustafa was a demon and would bring great danger to their community. Much as some fell for it, Mustafa’s glowing face and soulful singing, helped to overcome such malicious beliefs. Could a demon have such divine aura? The hardest, too gave in to his charm.
Mustafa was growing up but his knowledge of both the religions was growing much faster than anybody could comprehend. He knew the holy Quran by heart as he knew The Gita and the Puranas. His name spread and he was called by famous theologists for talks and discussions. People wanted to find out how he was speaking from the age of one and how did he recite all the sacred verses, without any one having taught him and that too at such a tender age of six? When children of his age were playing around with toys, he so easily was reciting the sacred scriptures of both the religion with such depth that was unbelievable.
On one such gathering, in a city, a saint of a great stature had come to meet Mustafa. The saint was extremely well read and he had very high meditative powers. Before the talks, he asked everyone to meditate for a while. He was guiding everyone to meditation. All of six years, Mustafa also followed him and suddenly he felt very strange. He could see a river, some people on its bank, a house and some faces became alive. He cried out, “Amma, amma.” He was shivering and people had to sprinkle water to get him to his senses. As soon as he opened his eye, the saint was asking him, “ What did you see beta?”
“I saw my home on the banks of Ganges, at Varanasi,” muttered Mustafa.
Mustafa was soaked in perspiration. He sat up and looked for Ghulam Ali.
“Abbu, I want to go home,” said he.
“Sure my Jaan, we will go home,” said Ghulam Ali, as he hugged Mustafa.
The next morning, as per the saint’s suggestion, a few of them along with Mustafa left for Varanasi. On reaching there, Ghulam Ali and the saint with Mustafa, headed for the ghats. On reaching the ghats, Mustafa’s expressions changed and he decisively started walking towards a particular direction. Ghulam Ali and the saint followed him. Mustafa reached at the end off the ghats and climbed a few steps reaching a house. He entered the house and there was a cry,
“Govinda! my Govinda! where were you all these seven years?”Ghulam Ali and the saint entered the house to see a man, hugging Mustafa and crying aloud. A woman also came out from a room inside and was apparently taken aback seeing Mustafa. Then she started crying too, seemingly a fake one. Was there a tinge of fear too in that cry? After the initial hugging and crying, the man turned to Ghulam Ali and the saint with folded hands. He introduced himself as Pandit Shivram. He told them that Mustafa was his Govinda, his son. His mother had died due to a prolonged illness and then he had married a widow named Vidya, who had a daughter, to look after his Govinda. Vidya could not be a good mother to Govinda and to secure her daughter’s future, she poisoned him and threw him into the river Ganges. Her own daughter, had spilled the beans but nothing could be done then. Because of the innocent daughter, the kind pandit did not throw the wicked wife away. Govinda then had taken a rebirth as Mustafa in Ghulam Ali’s house.
Pandit Shivram, expressed his thankfulness to Ghulam Ali for being so kind to accept Mustafa, the way he was. Now where will Mustafa stay? The saint said that the decision should be left to Mustafa.
“Beta, where would you choose to stay?”asked the saint.
Mustafa was silent for a while. Then he got up and came to Ghulam Ali and said, “Abbu.” Ghulam Ali hugged him. Tears were flowing from his eyes as he said, “My Jaan!”
Holding Ghulam Ali’s hands, Mustafa set out for home.