Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lage Raho.....

It is a busy traffic circle.Cars and bikes smoke past.Everybody is busy running from one end to th e other.Nobody notices him standing in the centre.An old,bespectacled man hunched on a stick;right in the centre of the circle.He has been standing there for a long time.I don't know why he hasn't crossed the road yet.Maybe that is not his purpose.The sun burns down with a purposeful vengeance.His bald head does not seem to be the best headwear to me.Birds,all kinds hover around him.He doesn't seem to care.And interestingly,neither do they.This strange view attracts a little girl's atention,as she passes by in a car.All she gets in return is a bark from her mother to keep her hands inside.The birds are very calm on his shoulder.Suddenly,one of them undergoes a minor'indigestion'.His expression does not change for a moment,his smile is unwavering.As if nothing happened.

It is an hour past and he still stands there.Steady and rock solid on his staff.A man is right next to him.He looks like one of those rich businessmen.He is puffing on his cigarette.Well,as if that wasn't enough,he has a mouth full of 'paan'.He sneaks a look around,like a thief about to pick a pocket,and spits.Right on the old man,leaving a red abstract stain on his dhoti.Not even a sorry muttered.I look at the old man,for some expression of anger.I am disappointed.Not a wince,his face is stoic.I know it now.He is one of those pacifists,who would bear every oppression in staunch non-violent manner.I knew if this guy had the strength,he would have cleaned the stain and smiled at the 'culprit'. GANDHIGIRI - They call it.All philosophical nonsense.Who will bear everything bravely,without getting angry,cursing or hitting his opponent?I won't.Some boys pass him.Raucous and screeching in mirth.One of them imitates him and gives birth to a new joke.They throw away empty packets of biscuits at his feet.Immediately three scourging mongrels pick them up and run away.Wish some of us had the decency they have.I decide to leave the old man alone and concentrate on my lunch.

I decide its time to get home.I walk past him for the last time.The plaque beneath him reads -MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND "MAHATMA" GANDHI -FATHER OF OUR NATION.I smile at him.Wonder if this was the nation he wished for,dreamed of,gave his life for?Only if he had a voice.If only he could speak.....again.

Na Poocho Dard Bando se
Hasi Kaisi Khushi Kaisi
Musibat sar Pe Rahti Hai
Kabhi Aisi Kabhi Kaisi.

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