Take heart. All is not lost yet. There are still people around who stand by values, pluralism and tolerance. While most cry hoarse about religious co-existence, here is a family that lives by it. Madhava Reddy and his wife Lakshmi Reddy are perhaps the best hope for humanity.
When they marry off their daughter Farzana on Sunday, they will have set a new benchmark for secularism. If you do a double-take, you must be an outsider. For the people of Gouraipally, a sleepy village 7 km from Yadgirigutta in Nalgonda district, it is nothing unusual.
They have seen Reddy and his wife raising Farzana right from the age of four as their own child. The girl, who lost her parents at an early age, could not have asked for better foster parents. When none of her relatives came forward to adopt her, Madhava Reddy took her in his care.
The Reddy couple, who have two sons, took an instant liking for Farzana.
They not merely showered love and affection on her but brought her up according to Islamic traditions. Apart from giving her modern education, they ensured that Farzana was not deprived of Islamic teachings.
“We never forced our religion on her but allowed the girl to perform ‘namaz’, read the Quran and observe fast during Ramzan,” says Madhava Reddy, who retired from the Electricity Board.
No wonder, as 22-year-old Farzana prepares for a new phase of life on Sunday, she is sad to part with her parents.
“I will miss mummy and daddy a lot,” she says in a choked voice.
A bright student, Farzana passed 10th Class and Intermediate in first division. Later, she did nursing course in Hyderabad and got a job at Yashoda Hospital, Malakpet.
Qazi Akhter of Yadgirigutta is expected to perform Farzana’s ‘nikah’ with a Nalgonda boy, Mohd. Rasheed, on Sunday. Ghiasuddin Babukhan, chairman, Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust, who supported Farzana’s education, is lending a helping hand in her marriage, too.
Reddy’s two sons, who are working in the U.S., are fond of Farzana and keep in touch with her. Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself is the golden principle of the family. Sure, an ounce of practice is worth tonnes of preaching.