I sometimes feel pity for my kids who are pampered; their wishes fulfilled in seconds. Never smacked, locked in the room, made ‘murga’ in class, hit on knuckle side of hand with an innocuous yet fiery twig, piss in pants before sports-teacher could charge. They probably never err as we did. Flawless souls like Gandhiji’s monkeys.
Easiest theft of childhood was stealing from home itself. A fluttering ten-rupee note kept beneath ‘hajmola sheeshee’ enticed me so much that I began strategising its theft. But, it wasn’t cake-walk as my mother never needed a CCTV to monitor whether her ‘achaar’ drying at top being attacked by crow, or a cat sneaking into the kitchen. Her eyes and ears were in each nook and corner of home, vigilant and alert. Best way to dodge such tight security, was to engage her with another thief. My lucky mascot quintessential thief ‘doodhwala (milkman)’ arrived. As my mom began bickering with him for diluted milk, I sneakingly took ten rupees and hided in middle of my notebook. This proved to be my last cash pilfering in life, as I was beaten the same day when my younger bro took out hidden bunch of ‘Parle-G’ I had bought, and showed it to mom. I vowed to never steal money in my life, like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Years later, I was on a Greyhound bus from Champaign to Memphis. For whatever reasons, whether India or abroad, I have predominantly got a last jerking and ass-smacking bus-seat in my life. While I was shoved to corner by hefty co-passenger and was somehow trying to adapt, I was expelled out of bus by ‘fart of the century’. Bloody Indian was out on road, suffocated almost to verge of death with poisonous bodily gases circulating in cramped bus. I returned to India soon, like Mohandas.
Zilla Ghaziabad- an epitome of crime and ‘gundaraj’ became first land of ‘satyagraha’. Tired and retired from hospital, I was driving my Maruti Alto through heavy monsoon downpour. When the mind was without fear, and streets without streetlights, potholes didn’t daunt this veteran who bore ass-smacking throughout his life. Rushing to home troubled by umpteen calls from Kasturba, I spluttered and tarnished a Ghaziabad Policeman riding a bullet beside. Even General Dyer would have pissed in pants if a Ghaziabad policewallah charged towards him. He blast opened my front door as if lock and knock were non-entity. Undaunted with bowed face, I offered all four cheeks (yeah the bottom ones too) which just melted our own desi respect-seeking policeman (dare I say ‘thulla’). Not much later, man was helping me locate my lost passport.
Rampant corruption and anarchy was hitting the headlines when a Gandhi-lookalike was leading a movement, and coining some unheard lost terms like ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Lokpal’. Any Tom, Dick and Harry were jumping in fray with black flags, marches, candles and so on in funky T-shirts displaying ‘Swaraj’ logos. I too could have done that but scorching sun and a cozy job restrained me. All I could do, was to blurt out tirades on ‘facebook’.
If there were ‘whatsapp’ and ‘facebook’ those days, Bhagat Singh and Azad would have some ‘sarfarosh’ chat group planning Kakori loot sharing photos and planning event. Nehru would have another group adding Gandhi, Azad, Patel and sharing an emaciated fasting Gandhi’s pic and people ‘liking’, ‘forwarding’, ‘thumbsuping’ throughout country…..’Nehru added Azad’…..’Zinnah left’…..’Subhash Chandra Bose started a new group’……Lajpat Rai tweets ‘Simon go back’…
But, there were none. They bore scorching sun, suffocated, beaten, bruised, hanged, murdered…..while we spoof them, sharing their wrongdoings and mistakes from some torn pages in history sitting in a cozy room sipping a cup of coffee. Celibacy experiments are raked up. Truth experiments are forgotten. And the patriots in us forward, like and share ‘Vande Mataram’ logos and ‘porn jokes’ with equal fervour.
(In his book ‘My experiments with truth’, Gandhi mentions his childhood theft of gold from his brother’s armlet and his vow to never steal in life; how he was thrown out of train, and the famous quote of ‘offer another cheek if somebody hits at one’ are well known. This blog has my personal views and experiences, and any reference to Mahatma Gandhi is symbolic)