The following are excerpts from the interview Abu Salem’s wife Samira Jumani gave to STAR News’ Sheela Rawal.
Sheela: Tell me, is there any person who does not have a heart or a mind'
Samira: When someone loves himself, he cannot love anyone else in this world.
Sheela: You have such guts that you told Dawood one day'. You were able to talk to Shakeel.
Samira Because I have nothing to hide.
Sheela: What is left with you that can be robbed.
Samira: Prestige. I still have my honour.
Sheela: If you talk to someone, how will you lose your honour'
Samira: You know I am still living in a society with my son. If someone points fingers, saying that is her ex-husband, it would matter to me.
Sheela: So, you feel that this holds some meaning in America.
Samira: In your society, where you are living among Indians, it does. They need something to gossip about.
Sheela: I wanted to ask one thing right from the start, what did Abu Salem want in his life' Did you figure out'
Samira: Name, name, name, fame, fame, fame.
Sheela: But this is fame in obverse.
Samira: Look, he didn’t understand what famous means and what infamous means.
Sheela: So he wished someone would write don Abu Salem' he used to like that'
Samira: I think so' yes.' I just asked him one day, you know, there are so many stage shows and how people come, big big stars come up and they perform and people are so happy seeing these things' you know when they are entertaining someone and they clap their hands, they want to see them, meet them, love them, hug them, take pictures of them' do you think that there is anybody who wants to do this with you'
Sheela: Did he hit you'
Samira (laughing): I was stretching his soul.
Sheela: So, did he like the fact that people were scared of him'
Samira: I don’t know but he didn’t want to hear about it. He told me that ‘people know me and respect me’. I told him that ‘you know they don’t love you or respect you. No one loves you or respects you. They are just scared of you because they love their families or the people in their lives a lot'’ because if there was an option for me to get out, I would have long ago. But I could not tell this on his face.
Sheela: When the blasts happened and there was talk of you being sent away to this place or the other, did you see Abu Salem scared'
Samira: He is a very scared person.... He was in constant touch with me till my son was born. Till then, I was living in that place and he would come every night. I knew that if he did not come one night, he would surely come in the morning and sleep' eat and drink.
Sheela: Did he bring any star to your house'
Samira: One or two had come. He asked me, would you come and I will introduce you to him.
Sheela: Who' **** or **** or ****' (Names deleted)
Samira: Please I didn’t tell you.
Sheela: But I have heard that he and **** decided to have their son’s name common.
Samira: He didn’t even bother to tell this
(From the conversation that follows, it seems Salem calls his son Papa)
Sheela: Did he ever hug his son'
Samira: He was just two years old when he went away'. You know, when he says he could get kids from Monica and he could do this and he could do that'. He is just a child. He can live his life, let me live.
The way he talked never made me feel that he ever even thought of putting his son at a point where you would say that he loves someone.
Sheela: He had some priorities in life'. He wanted to be someone.
Samira: He was not a family person. I never lived a life that I would say was married ' married life which means husband and wife sit together. We had never ever even eaten together. It was just serving him and his life' sometimes he did not even want to see my face. I used to send his food with the servant. So people think I lived with him for 15 years'but I didn’t live with him even a single minute or not even a married minute.
Sheela: Didn’t he ever tell you I love you or Abu loves you, not even after he forcibly married you'
Samira: No, he told me he wouldn’t have married if he didn’t love, as if saying that I did something big for you. He said my eyes were on you and I married you and gave you a good house and car and clothes. Everything was always like I have this right on you. He made me feel that even in front of a thousand people, I gave you this'. I gave you food, I gave you drinks'.I am into lots of sher--shairi recently.
Sheela: Yes, say
Samira: It’s like... the world at one’s feet and the feet are in chains' you know I always portrayed myself as that.
Sheela: So you had to face 14 years of exile....
Samira: I always felt that I had food but I was not hungry because it killed me...I had clothes but I never wore good clothes and everyone in Dubai knows that I was always simple. I never wore jewellery on my body.
Sheela: When he used to go to Dubai, one or two visits to Anees’s place took place. At that time, seeing him in that environment, what did you feel' did he have a really powerful position'
Samira: See the things you are telling me about.... I never went into that... environment where I could see him with others.
Sheela: No, but one is able to make sense of things.
Samira: But when I was with the women, the women always had the priority that' amongst all of us, Dawood’s wife, Anees’s wife' we are somebody' you women, your husbands work under us' so when they work under them, you work under us' and that I could never take... sorry.... I never had buttered them... when I had my son’s birthday, it was my son’s first birthday... I wanted to do it very nicely.... He didn’t even bother to come to his son’s birthday' I didn’t even want him to. I had only my set of people that knew me as my son’s mother.... there was not a single underworld person there.
Sheela: Did anyone threaten you after the separation from Dawood'
Samira: I never had the time to even talk to them.
Sheela: When the phone came'. or when men were sent to your home' was there any threatening'
Samira: They knew that I was there but they knew indirectly. When Anees called up and he was indirectly' interrogating me that ‘where is your husband’ and all bullshit because he (Salem) had this office and thus had his picture there. He asked for that picture and then Salem had already gone' and his picture' tore it in anger'. What they did was they sent all these people to my house that they want the picture'. Along with him, two of his brothers were also there, 'and all I told him was that you have come to take his picture' eight men' to collect his photo'just that bit of a photo' eight men came' ‘where was Abu Salem’' I was very blunt, I said ‘do you tell your wife where you go. How do you expect me to know where he is’.
Samira: Mustaqin, Moin, Riyaz and five other people... three-four people they came into cars full of people.
Sheela: So they all came to you and looked for the photo... why did you say that Dawood was better'
Samira: Because I was very mad and I think at that period of time... (Chhota) Shakeel’s wife had some... I think she had a birthday party or something' Something that she wanted to call me for. She called me' Shakeel’s wife and Anees’s wife never got along well. Just they both fight among themselves.
Sheela: Power play among wives.
Samira: In my lifetime I would write a story on all wives' how they lived... so she wanted to call me she knew I never went much to many places but it was miyaaz (religious function) or'something, so she forced me, that I would have definitely have to go... she called me up and said all these things and I was mad at that point of time' so she said ‘OK... I’ll talk to him.... It is not the way to behave’ and then I got a call from Shakeel: ‘What happened’ and I said that ‘I have never been to a party of any of your things but you know me and how I am the way I have lived... Have I ever interfered with your life or anybody’s life or even been there to butter or doing something wrong' or harming someone' I have nothing to do with all of this' I always stayed away from all of this'so... I don’t want anyone to come to my house because it is killing me from within myself....’ Then Dawood called up' he said: ‘What happened’... he assured that ‘after this nobody will be at you...’ and he asked me: ‘What happened, what did he say'’ I said: ‘This is the way he talked with me.’ ‘Anees and I don’t agree to it'’
Sheela: Did you ask Dawood'
Samira: I told him directly: ‘Do you ever tell them (your wives), did you ever do these things to them. He said ‘no’. I said that ‘you should understand the way he talks to me, it kills me'Why not a different way (of talking), you know. Why do women come between your lines (conversation).' When men are there... why do you want to get any woman dragged into any of your things' And he respected that. He said ‘I will make sure that nobody calls you...’ and after that no one ever did.
Sheela: That was the first and last time that you had a direct talk with him or did you talk to him directly earlier as well'
Samira: No, this was the first time I talked to him and then after that' they (Dawood and Salem) again got patched up and I don’t know how they got patched up and then again they called it off.... so they patched up because Dawood had come to Dubai, I guess.
Sheela: So again he called'
Samira: He didn’t call me anytime.
Sheela: You talked to him just once'
Samira: Ya, ya, on the phone I just talked to him once... then he is very... if I compare it with any other people... he had that respect... at least talking nicely on the phone and I told him that ‘See, whoever you are and I know you are Bhai, but, I don’t respect you for what you are'. As a human being just because you are older to me I respect you but if this is the way you behave, if this is the way your brother (Anees) behaves, do you think I would have any respect for him.... Every man is there for their own action and they are respected due to their own action.' Shakeel and Anees never got along with each other, never'. No, I always see tension between the two women....
Sheela: Well, there used to be tension between their wives because husbands did not get along
Samira: That’s what they told me, both of them.
Sheela: Well, individually' meaning Shakeel’s wife would tell you'.
Samira: I have done so much for him, and what does she think of herself' That whoever’s man he was, she was everything. She did not even know how to talk. I taught her how to talk properly.
Sheela: But tell me what would you do at the parties'
Samira: Nothing, I used to sit at one place and left in half an hour
Sheela: Did Abu ever tell you how to behave' how to talk at those parties'
Samira: Oh yes, ‘don’t be that rude and blunt and you don’t know how to talk to people’.
Samira: He was too much into it. I never pushed him to let me go to any parties and he never pushed me. I always made excuses.
Sheela: So you want to say that after your forced marriage, the married life you enjoyed was no married life at all'
Sheela: Even after that, why did you go on for so long'
Samira: When he hit me' I have many stitches here (pointing to her forehead)'.
Sheela: Hit you'
Samira: He had beaten me up in Dubai so much' he wanted to kill me also.
Sheela: How' Did he hit you with his hand'
Samira: It was at a stage where the doctor said that ‘if you would have been brought late, you could have been dead’.
Sheela: That means you kept quiet because of physical abuse'
Samira: I could say that they threatened my family. I have gone through a lot of physical abuse, even Monica has gone through a lot of abuse... perhaps what she saw in two years and two days' you multiply it by 15 years to (get) what I saw.
Sheela: Did he abuse you after he was drunk'
Samira: No, he never drank in front of me.
Sheela: Then why did he hit you'
Samira: Because I used to... (affect) his soul
Sheela: You used to argue with him'
Samira: I was not arguing. I used to always tell him the truth. ‘What would you get' Exactly what would you get by doing this to me'’
Samira: I always came to conclusions that he was somewhere psychic or psycho.
Sheela: But you left for Dubai and later came to America.
Samira: He used to hit me here as well.
Sheela: But you could have called for the police here'
Samira: You don’t understand. He had that power over me. My family is right there in India' sitting there. I can’t do even the smallest thing until and unless he is behind bars. And I know if he comes out, I’d be the first one that he wants to kill.
Sheela: Oh God! You think that'
Samira: It’s not the question of thinking, I somehow know it.