It’s the year 2068,an old man, half a man, sits across from his grandson. Once upon a time child, When I was your age, There was this holy place for those of my kind, We called it JNU. But somehow the J spelt anti, and NU was but national university. Where we’d lost the jawahar to the Lal of the saffron, I know not? It all started with a very whimsical man. Mittron! he said, to resounding applause. bhaiyo, aur behno ! the crowd said bas, rulayega kya, we are all yours. The connection was there, I felt it. I did. Such was the charm of this herculean man, had a 56 inch chest and a mouth like a beer can. Frothing and fuming, irresistibly pungent and loud, he addressed the gathering, ALL under one shroud. We were prescribed a daily dosage of nationalist ideals. A dash of saffron with our morning teas and stories of bhakti in our newspaper leaves. Then in the evening with our movies and Pepsi, stand for the anthem, what was wrong then, I didn’t see. Topped it all off with a chant in the night, bharat mata ki jai, till the next rays of sunlight. Surprising it was when people would say, what good is a leader when all the taxes you pay, Continue to ministers’ pockets by day. By night, these naysayers masquerading as intellectuals would pledge, to fight off corruption and weed out what was left. Oh and speaking of left, son, I was a leftist. Well, not that I am now, don’t tell anyone, promise? I didn’t know what it meant then, what was left and what was right. I thought it was all well within my rights. Asking for equality, of gender and race. For the tribals of bastar, for the women of kashmir and the north east. Arguing, so sorry, You don’t know what that means. (to cause someone to decide to do or not do something by giving reasons). That’s what we did. How blasphemous, I know, how did we not see? Our words hurt our mother, India could bleed? But why was this blood raining down on me? Why was this blood not rising within? Were our questions, questions that from ourselves we hid? With the saffron all around me, and lathis and bricks. They showed me my place child, they showed me the tricks . The tricks that had fooled me into believing there was this book. This document called the constitution that gave us our rights. For how could our forefathers do something so crude, tell people to be equal and that opposition wasn’t rude? Oh, I lost you there again now didn’t I. Opposition! Silly old me. (actions or opinions that show that you disagree with or disapprove of someone or something). So where was I, yes, opposition was a crude idea. It was funny how our ruler was called the prime minister. I mean, why the farce people, he was all the pervasive God himself. He gave us light, and water and electricity. He gave us homes and employment and education. But in our naivety we would often exclaim, Jawahar was responsible for all those things mister, you better step up your game. Oh and I’ll tell you something you’ve most certainly not heard of. There were people called ‘the gays’. We Don’t use that word now, such a thing does not exist. There were more of their kind, a whole tribe in fact. That deadly disease called LGBTQ. I mean, if we cured this, we’ll surely cure AIDS. Then there was this commodity called individual expression and freedom of speech. Had to be carefully rationed or your verbal diarrhoea could get you in trouble,unless you belonged to this extremely superior gene pool called the sangh. Oh! and there used to be system called the judiciary and it had a branch, called the police. You now know them as the ABVP. It’s the year 2068. Visiting hours are over, he must head back inside. Dragging his shackles, smile on his face. Khalid ne bhi aakhir, badal hi diya bhes. Here this young man, he wondered now why, the man who they said was his grandpa, had such a strange name. Khalid. Kha. Kh. That sound. He’d never heard it before in a hindu surname. But he shrugged it off, must’ve been one of the old man’s many quirks. Walked out of prison into his coherent society , where there was one religion, one color, one race, one party. Where Conflict was a word he’d learnt when he last visited his grandpa.