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Ramazan crosses faith hurdle
- Hindu shopkeeper finds luck & good health after fasting

Behrampore, Aug. 17: Like other roza observers, he gets up when it is still dark for his sehri, the first meal, so that he can fast the whole day. He breaks his fast, like the others, with fresh lime water, dates, muri and chop. But unlike the others, Kabir Chowdhury is a Hindu.

This is the 12th year that 50-year-old Chowdhury, who owns the store School Stationers at Bandhab Press crossing in Behrampore, is observing roza.

“I do it because I like to do it and it is good for my health,” he said.

Chowdhury began in 2000, inspired by Wasim Pervez, his employee at the store. “Every Ramzan month Wasim used to observe roza. For a year I saw him. I didn’t keep a fast, but when he fasted, I didn’t eat anything, or even drink tea or water. I didn’t want to,” he said.

“I began the next year. Wasim and I would observe iftar together at our shop every day,” Chowdhury said.

“I am a Hindu and I will not convert,” said Chowdhury, who doesn’t read the namaz. But 2000 proved a turning point for him. “I became successful from that year,” he said. His health improved. He attributed these to roza.

He faced a problem during Durga Puja once. “I was stopped from offering anjali at the Nutanpara Club puja. Some people felt I had turned into a Muslim. I protested. Later, the organisers requested me to offer prayers,” he said. “Now no one, family, friends or neighbours, has a problem with me.”

Chowdhury’s family is as enthusiastic. His wife Kasturi wakes up at three in the morning to boil milk for him, which he has with chapatis for his sehri. Daughter Karebi, an MSW student, and son Karan, who is to appear for the higher secondary exam, had once played a prank on Chowdhury.

One day at 3.15am, during sehri, the sound of ajan greeted his ears. Karan told his father that he couldn’t eat any more. Chowdhury washed his hands only to realise that the ajan came from the mobile phone. His son was playing a recording. Karan got a scolding and Chowdhury went back to finish his meal.