I am just back from lucknow, but kind of confused the routine has not yet set in. My sister’s grandson curls up on to my knee.
“Gustavo” he said pointing at the image of a frail man, clad in an above knee dhoti the upper cloth animatedly fluttering and of course the trademark horn rim bifocals.
“Not Gustavo, darling its Gandhi, ” I correct him.
“no, china-nani, it is a man holding a stave, and he is angry… gussa so he is Gus stave!” well one does not really argue with the kid-logic
“actually it was Mohandas,” the voice startled me, I looked beside me, it was the frail man again, “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ”
“better known as the Ma-Hat-Ma” I muttered under my breathe.
“no need to be sarcastic, I didn’t call myself one ”
“anyway aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
“don’t I wish to rest in peace. ” sighed the man. “each time, peace prevails and decide to move on, someone revives me, my soul is being held captive on various streets.”
“you should be thrilled, every wannabe town has a mahatma Gandhi road, it is like you are venous system of the country.”
Just then the Google map said, “200 mts ahead, turn right on to Kasturba Marg,” the frail man gave a wry smile while raised my eyebrow. Before we could comment, the Google lady went, “Now 200mts ahead turn left on to MGRoad”
“are you on this journey with me, or do you have a place to go?” I inquired politely.
“will you take me where I want to go?”
“Maybe” I paused, it was almost an afterthought, “any highway… they all take you to the same place don’t they?”
Hmm maybe , maybe not he replied.
“you either get to choose the destination or the path, what do you choose?”
The frail man looked rather amused, “listen young lady, you are talking to a man who chose both the destination and the path.”
“touché if I may ask how so?”
“destination free India, path sathyagraha non-violence.”
“well was it really non-violent? Think of it isn’t it classic PAB”
And what would PAB be?
“Passive aggressive.” The rest of the line obliterated by Google maps with,” You are on MGRoad keep going straight for 2kms.”
“are you new here” asked the frail man
“How do you like it?”
‘I always like arriving at new cities, wandering empty streets with no destinations. I never lose the love for arriving, but I know I am born to leave, so I will move on. another town, another MGRoad” I said.
“I wish I could do it too” the voice was wistful.
“the roads named after me, trap me, into people’s living memory.” Sighed the old man,” You know what annoys me the most? The road is apparently named to honour me, then come the sloth and filth on it, dumps of garbage. Someone shits on your memory, the next one piddles. Isn’t that rather insulting?”
This I knew was soul unburdening, a soul that came looking for the cantadora to tell its pain.
The frail man muttered, I did not choose to become either the Mahatma or the naked Fakir as they called me then. It was not a conscious decision. It was not a conscious decision. Destiny chose to make me a Fakir and I became one. The wandering happened on its own, yes I walked expanses maybe its karmic justice that roads are named after me. Now I have no options I have to wander hoping people find their destinations. These roads are like a wanderer having no homes of their own, nor destinations, turn right or left as the need be. Drifting from one place to another, the mahatma is a fakir.”
“I am dead and gone, people who were not even born when I died talk about my thoughts and words. Someone even discussion if I was gay. Hey ram can you let me move on !’
“Just a passing thought, maybe Mohandas can move on, leaving the shroud of the Mahatma behind”
“My child, this is your error. Mohandas left the physical abode long before Nathuram killed him. Mohandas, the father, son and husband had to make place for the fakir who wandered British India hence the roads named after him, the physical manifestation of a journey. Once the journey in the physical form Mahatma stayed on. now the Mahatma is tired and wants to rest in peace.”
I had to stop, my destination was before me. Yes, Mohandas was right, one could choose both the destination and path. But one had to have the courage of wearing the cloak of the fakir and making way for the Mahatma.
This was written on last week’s indispire prompt. It was not meant to be like this. When I started out, it began with Gandhi would not come in my dreams, he would come in my nightmares. I wanted to take Gandhi to see the RSS headquarters, and meet Sadhvi Pragnya general tell him what a mess he made of the country. I do not know from this emerged.
I also had an epiphany he did what he thought was right. It is more than 75yrs of independence the children of the Raj are grandparents or great grandparents who are refusing to take on responsibility.