“sannaata hai ya shanti, aap hi batao Baabu.”
while writing this letter to you, i realize two things: one, which gives me peace, that i don’t even need to write this because i know we connect beyond any tangible evidence. two, which makes me silent, that you will not be reading this. but i heard somewhere that peace will never come to us, if we don’t try to achieve it and struggle through silence. i am writing to you with all things that i have been silent about, hoping to find peace. i am confused with everything, Baabu. i don’t know whether i have made peace with the face that you are gone. i don’t know whether i can silence the cry within my heart which craves for your company. today, two years after you’ve left, i still remember how i craved for your touch those six hours till i was told that we’ve given peace to your soul at the cremation site. i refuse to believe that. how can you be at peace when we arent? you were always the one who slept only when you knew that all of us are at peace, all of us are okay.
i am still sitting in the same red t-shirt, which i was wearing that day, which gives me the peace and happiness of your touch. there’s a red pen drive in your room which on finding silence, goes on to resonate our last conversation.
“Baabu, pen drive hai?”
“le jao. parr phir laake nai deta hai tumlog.”
i brought back the pen drive, Baabu. if only it was as simple for you to bring yourself back? while many things haven’t changed, many things have and you would be glad to know them. in these two years, 750+ days, rarely have i not arranged my slippers properly, the way you used to tell me to. rarely have i said no to taking dal in my plate while having lunch. yes, i have fought with vishakha but i have loved her more than ever and always tried giving her the love i wanted to give you. although, the majority of that love has been rendered to maa who i want to complain about also.
when she misses you alot, she never shares with us the reason she is crying, however much it might be evident. i have to complain about this, the same way as she used to complain about you eating rajnigandha. i miss our code words for all the things that you stealthily used to eat and i made it possible for you. i always had to choose between your health and your desire. my mind never used to be silent, being confused between whether to help you or be strict, but in my heart i was happy to let you have your peace of fulfilling your wishes.
more than complaining about maa, i want to tell you that while i might not have completely met my promises, she has been there as she promised to be. she told me, “hum Baabu bhi hai. hum maa bhi hai” and not even an ounce of that has proven to be false. when she laughs or smiles, that is when i am actually at peace. one time, i love being silent, is when she sings her prayers in the evening and i stay silent in whichever corner of the house i might be to let her voice calm my mind. and she is one of the most modern grandmothers i have seen, one who uses whatsapp, volunteers to sing sonu song for a video on social media, and i am not sure if anyone in our family now solves sudoku faster than her. if anytime i have not missed you, it is when i have had the love of maa. if anytime i have missed you the most, it is when i have had the love of maa knowing how difficult it would be for her.
i remember how you used to act getting scared because you claimed seeing a skeleton, while i just came out of bath, the cheekiest way i have been told that i am that thin. i still come inside your room and dress in front of the mirror the same way. to not have you do that again makes me silent. to see your frame and your smiling face behind me in the mirror in those five minutes of dressing up, gives me peace.
i remember editing your paperwork and letters and how particular you were about every word, sentence and spacing which i have not done here. to not capitalize any letter might show you the chaos in my mind which does not let me come near to peace. i just know that everytime i write Baabu, i capitalize it because that is the way we address god. and everytime i speak, think or write that, i pause for you to reply with, “beta” but only silence follows.
mere toh bhagwaan aap hi ho Baabu,
sanaata hai ya shaanti, ab aap hi batao.
Its been 2 months since my 3 year under-graduation got over. By virtue of no gap years, its only been that many years since I left school only to realize that I can’t get over it. By virtue of this gap year, I have the time to pen it down.
‘Gap year’ is an interesting concept and shows the obsession of the society with the fact that learning and education can only be availed formally. The other interesting concept, one which has given me some of the best memories from school, is that of a House system. A few days ago, the world celebrated 20 years of Harry Potter by showing their loyalty towards their favourite among Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor or Slytherin while it struck me how important is this system for every school-going student.
The sports teacher, Ahluwalia Ma’am, entered on our first day of school and read out our House names from a register. Little did we know then that these freedom fighter names that we’ve been attached to, were going to be one of the most special things of our school life. All we did then was laughed on the little pun in her surname, Aloo-walia, with all due respect to her. We had four houses in junior school named as Nehru (Red), Tagore (Blue), Gandhi (White), and Netaji (Green). For once, houses only meant that on two particular days in the week, I had to wear white by virtue of me being Gandhi house. Back home, Mummy wasn’t too happy with the idea of me being in the same. Any other house would have meant low maintenance of the P.T. T-Shirt and as a child, I was an un-named endorser of ‘Daag Ache Hai.’ But, it did not take much time for us to become patrons of our houses. The first Run-Touch-Run Back-Tag was where it all started. Four rows of four colours were aligned for the whistle to blow and the race to start. Winning the race might have been the best thing to have happened. But losing the race made me realize that the next time I am running, Netaji house needs to be defeated. Loyalties got etched when Sports Day happened which shouldn’t have been the case. We were too young to realize that in the name of discipline points for the house, we were not being allowed to act notoriously. I cannot just do away with Sports Day without mentioning Free Milo which we tried to sneak out twice. Apart from all the strategies behind doing so, our focus never shifted from the ticking scoreboard. Seeing the senior classes race, we realized that this loyalty is no where near to ending. At Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, I found a home (Or, house?!) inside my home, Birla High School.
Our major chunk of activities like public speaking and music started in the third standard. And so, the thirst to keep contributing for Gandhi House kept growing. There were charts pinned to soft-boards where we got red stars for our houses if we performed well and black stars if we misbehaved. Of course, I was competitive enough to ensure the net red stars (Red Stars – Black Stars) were always the most in class but that isn’t what I loved the most. The best part was when the teacher finally decided to negatively mark a student and asked someone to volunteer draw the black stars on the charts. Out came running the representatives from the other three houses opening their shoes, climbing the chairs and drawing the respective stars. The other good thing because of this was that Back Benchers felt a sense of employment.
Pro Kabaddi League happened much later. Our inter-house Kabbadi competitions were held in junior school, and we were boastful enough to call ourselves Pros. In classes IV and V we were made vice-captains and captains of our respective houses, and I had the opportunity to serve my house in both these positions. More than being proud of the investiture ceremony, I was ecstatic about the fact that we got to move out of our classes while the classes were on. Just when junior school was ending, one of my racing partners died while on his vacation. We only spoke before races on Sports Day. It felt like losing a very important family member. A family called Gandhi House.
Enter senior school. Now there were six houses which only meant that we recognize two more freedom fighters – Shivaji and Pratap. Ashoke came in for Nehru. (Details mentioned to not hurt Blue house students) We were told that we’ll all be shuffled into new houses. I wanted to don a different colour. I wished I was in the same house as my best friend’s. I missed the sorting hat who I could tell my wishes to. Ashoke went to the first roll number, Gandhi to the next, and it carried on. I was Roll No. 10. Number System was on my side, until there was a twist in the tale that I was in Gandhi House again. I was sad at that moment, but when I see it now I am proud I belonged to the same house for 12 years whereas my mother never got an opportunity to feel good about the same. If we really had a sorting hat, we would have told it to not sort us into any house, only because we had to wear the house badges on days we had Assembly, or otherwise we’ll be detained. It isnt so simple as it may seem. House badges were never in place and why would it be? We were growing teenagers taking pressure of the larger phenomenons in the world and all the schools expects us to care about is a small badge? But in that moment before Assembly started, the largest phenomenon was some 10-20 students running around the whole school for a badge. Any badge, of course. Who would remember our house? Some volunteers did. I was one of those volunteers. *Cinematic Pause*
In senior school, we had to decorate our soft-boards when it was assigned for a particular house, and we were marked on the same. We got this opportunity twice a year and all the 6 times till class eight I did it with all my might and with all my free-riding friends. Senior School made it for certain that in the name of houses we have been exploited. We have been asked to be disciplined, to be prim and proper, to stand in rows properly, to participate in cleanliness drives and to decorate soft-boards too. Good habits are these, but still we have been exploited.
The better opportunities included Debates, Elocutions, Quizzes, etc. Senior school upped the ante with all such competitions. With rising intensity, the rewards were also huge. Two of the most special rewards were – one, being the commander for my house at Annual Sports March Past and two, being judged the best house for the year and getting on the stage as one of the representatives to receive that award. There were pitfalls too. For a house that I had been a been a part for 11 years then, did not elect me as their captain in Class 11 which basically made up for the heart-break in this 12 year affair with my love. My love – Gandhi House.
A home. A family. A love. Being a part of a house introduced me to ways of becoming a true patriot. It gave us an identity as a group which was always guided with one purpose – to get our houses above the rest. Whenever I have visited school in these three years, I have never missed visiting the soft-board in the fountain area which shows the grand points tally of all the houses. I still calculate the points to see if my house, Gandhi house, is winning. Thank you Gandhi House. Thank you Birla High School.
To Arvind Kejriwal,
After thousands of memes and folklore of your idiocies, I finally arrive to break my silence over the shame you have brought to this only little thing we have in common: our surname. Surnames, as I see, are a matter of pride because every surname carries with it a lineage rich in culture and respect. It is an element of identity; the identity which will continue to persist while everything else may fall down. So yes, in spite of all your fatuousness and absurdities, this surname will not always be looked down upon but I must tell you that you have really tried hard.
Being a Kejriwal, also, is an indicator of being a Marwari which further tells about my natural orientation towards Bhartiya Janta Party. (I admit this openly because this blog, by its very nature, must be blamed on to Modiji!) Though, your entry into the political playfield via India Against Corruption was one where I took pride in having this small little connection with you. It definitely did seem that there are some people who really care for the country and have the calibre to show it, that politically independent activists haven’t really died and that all that Bollywood shows isn’t all that is fake.
The opening stand with Anna Hazare was an amazing innings to watch but like all Delhi Daredevils, the middle order never really clicked. Running Anna Hazare out, you chose to set hefty political targets for yourself but little did we know then, that there were more googlies to follow. Your promise to never participate in dirty politics was something we all looked up to but we never stopped pinning hopes on to you even when you broke that promise. It seemed, for once, that you would redefine democracy with Aam Aadmi Party.
The first signs that you have caught on to political lust was when you joined hands with Congress to win the Delhi seat. To abstain from VIP culture after becoming CM is the last good thing I know of, that you might have done and I believe, you have already undone it. Even on becoming CM, you couldn’t resist sitting on a dharna which was enough of an evidence that you lacked political brains. Everytime we thought that this would be the lowest you could fall, you told us that you were unstoppable. You quit from the post of a CM? Was that all the responsibility you could take behind all that hullabaloo? While I do not understand the Brexit Vote and the American Vote bank for Trump, it takes me an equal effort to understand for what reasons have Delhiites supported you time and again. You have always seen the post of a Chief Minister as a stepping stone to achieve bigger feats which is complete injustice to the capital of India. Cheap is the only term I can attach you with, after seeing you during the Central Elections. A work of a leader is to lead and strategize and not to elicit proof and draw out long list of names whenever an opportunity calls.
In all your absurdities and oh-so-honest behaviour, you were still distinct from Rahul Gandhi or Mamata Banerjee but the unfolding of recent events have suggested that you cover an entire spectrum of hypocrisy, senseless debates, foolishness and political insanity. From online sites to streets to Sabhas, you have left no stone unturned in proving to us this. This move of yours against demonetization policy has completed a full circle of your double faced nature; from being against corruption to being inconsiderate about it.
This letter of mine isn’t as great but nothing related to you ever can be. Delhi is still as much plagued with smog, choked by traffic, and shamed by rapes, crimes and malpractices. Some or the other Kejriwal will bring pride eventually, but you can do your bit by not bringing shame.
Next up: To Chetan from Another Chetan? Well, Chetan Bhagat’s shenanigans are relatively in control. Here was one for Mamata, though.
“If God wanted an Indian CM as His guest, he could’ve spared Amma of Tamil Nadu and could’ve rather taken Nik-Amma of Delhi.” – Whatsapp Forward.