This week, Indispire prompt asks us to describe an interaction with Baapu Gandhi, if we happened to meet him. The following is my story. I could only open my mouth in my dream. In real life, I would stand spellbound and overawed.
I did not know, when I dozed off listening to election result. I found myself sitting under a tree by a river. An elderly man, with bare body, wearing a dhoti and sporting round glass spectacle was also sitting there humming, “Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, Patita Pavana Sita Ram.”
The man looked familiar, yet I could not place him. The man smiled, “you have seen my photograph, heard about my principle of non violence, may have read my books, but you have never met me. I am Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi.”
“But baapu, you were shot by Nathuram Godse, weren’t you? How come you are here?”
“This ashrama by the Sabarmati river was created by me. I loved it. I have fond memories of this place. So from time to time I come here. Others don’t see me. But I can see everyone.”
“So baapu, what do you see different from your time?”
“A lot has changed beta, a lot has changed. I had made Jawaharlal the prime minister. Today you are electing Narendra Modi as prime minister. Two very different people. One a dreamy eyed idealist a lover of humanity, another a no nonsense practical administrator.
I see, that bank of Sabarmati has been paved. I see a statue of Ballabh Bhai Patel. A tall statue, I must say. Why didn’t they build a statue of Jawahar Lal?”
“Baapu, Pandit ji has many places named after him. So does his daughter and two grandsons. From airport, to hospital, to stadium, in many cities of different states are named after Pandit ji, Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. There is resentment against naming everything after one family. So under new political dispensation, as a mark of Gujarati pride, a statue of Sardar Patel was erected.”
Baapu did not say anything. Just to keep the conversation going, I said, “did you know a movie has been made where your non violent protest has been called Gandhi giri?” I added excitedly, “The movie made a lot of money. It was a box office hit.”
“But the boy who did Gandhigiri,” baapu did not seem happy, “in real life he was caught with an automatic weapon.”
“Baapu, how can we mix real life and a filmy character?” That is your problem baapu you are very rigid about everything, if you were alive and with us you would sit on a hunger fast, “actor and character are two different people, Baapu!”
“No I don’t like this two character and money making business. If my name is involved, I want total honesty.” Baapu said somewhat irritated, “even now this person who is being elected, he prostrates before my photo, but did he not kill muslims in Gujarat?”
“Baapu, who told you so?” I asked, “he was interrogated by special investigation team, he came out clean. Supreme court did not find a case against him. In the riot that happened, Hindus were also killed. May be as a new chief minister he lacked experience. But he most likely did not kill anyone intentionally.”
Baapu did not appear convinced. But he did not take the conversation in that direction. I asked, “Baapu do you think non violence can really be a state policy?”
Baapu was somewhat taken aback and said, “all along that has been my belief. I stand by non violence.”
“Baapu, non violence takes a long time to bear fruit. Does common men and women have that much time in their hand to solve everything non violently through a satyagraha? We were attacked by a neighbor, we ceded territory, all because as a non violent country we were unprepared. Our neighbor, sends terrorists inside our country and kills innocents. We tried nonviolent method to deal with them. They did more violence. So we went inside their country and bombed terrorist bases. Do you think this is violence? Didn’t Lord Krishna explore all peaceful methods before going for Kurukshetra?”
“Who are you talking to in your sleep?” my mother was shaking me, “ Modi has got majority on his own.“
This post is written in response to Indispire prompt. More posts in response to the prompt may be found here.
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