By Rafi M. Ali, M.D.
Director of DarusSalam Seminary’s Tadrīs Integrated High School Program
Lord of the Ghetto
There is social hierarchy, I understand, even in the slums of Mumbai. The Lord of the Ghetto is an individual of some intelligence, often a mediocre thug who is jaded and scarred from experience. He presides over the poverty-stricken realm, doling out favors which he received from the government officials. In evenings, after supper and some relaxation, the lordship emerges from his domicile to entertain petitions and complaints from the slum citizens — an audience suffering a wait for some time. His mastery of the science of humiliation inspires him to wear, not his nice clothes, but a tattered kurta and disheveled lungi as he waddles apathetically to his throne. As he seats himself, he has already succeeded in his intention — though it seems impossible, the ghetto audience suddenly feels worse about itself.,
Much can be communicated without speaking a word. It is a cardinal sin for a teacher to be habitually tardy to his class. Students are not fooled. As with the ghetto audience, it takes little erudition to appreciate when you are being told that you do not matter.
An Excellent Teacher is the First to arrive to class.
. The reader may appreciate the exquisitely similar description and more in Katherine Boo’s novel Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
. Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (New York: Random House, 2014), 21.