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.
He felt it, even as he looked into the lifeless eyes of the one he’d hated for so long. It should have been over, it should have filled the hole inside of him, satiated his lust to put an end to this adversary…
It had been a while since he had gotten some sleep, quite a while. But he did dream. His dreams were all he had. The lucidity of the dreams was disturbing at times, but he’d gotten used to it. Sometimes, he could go into a state of conscious dreaming, and it was just as easy and just as mundane as flipping a switch. No one understood what had happened, neither the ones who cared, nor the ones who tried. It just seemed like he’d stopped living his own life, chasing after the dreams someone else had shown him.
There are times in one’s life when one relies on instinct, prays for it to be right, and carries on. Such was the mistake he made when he went against all good reason and had faith in his emotion. Belief. Believe in something for only as long as it doesn’t hold your head down in water and politely ask you to breathe. Believe in something for only as much as your shredded soul can take. Believe in something only when you are not the only one left to believe.
He had made peace with the fact that the events of the past would repeat themselves, and he would just let it happen. Maybe because he liked the pain or because he wanted to fight it. Only, it wasn’t that simple. There was more, there was someone trying to snake his way through and snatch away what little he had left of that emotion. This he could not tolerate. He finally knew hate.
For someone who’d spent his whole life trying to love, this change infested itself in his charred heart and spread like a cancer until it took control of his actions. All he needed was a little motivation, a little something to let him justify to himself, the reason for going this far, to justify taking a life. He needed it, needed this to put an end to his misery. He had changed. The soul that was now lost would have condemned the thought, castigated it…
Sending someone into the realm of the unknown,
With words of glory and hatred his own,
Walked right out of the arms of an angel,
Into the depths of hell, and back again.
Blocked out the sun and starry skies,
Lost in the haze a thousand lies,
And in a moment did he forget,
The soul of a wretch was all he’d slain.
He had to lose, and lose he did,
To live without a soul; the highest he had bid,
And now he walks among those who see,
With eyes burnt out and souls that bleed.
The fire in the pit could burn,
A million angels in its turn,
But at the end not one regret,
All feeling lost, naught within his soul was left.