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Glimpse of Gandhi : Part I

Posted by Shreyans Jain Monday, 6 October 2014 0 comments
02 October is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti in India and as International Non-Violence Day around the world, in the fond memory of Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the nation of India who led a life set by examples and guided the nation to the path of independence from the British colonial rule. He was a great political and spiritual leader who led an austere life and fought all adversities with his two great weapons, namely – satya (truth) and ahimsa (non-violence).


This year, the birthday of Bapu (as Mahatma Gandhi is fondly called) was celebrated by launching a “Swachhh Bharat” (Clean India) Campaign with an aim to fulfil his dream of a clean and healthy India. Scores of citizens across the country vowed to keep their homes and surroundings clean and pledged to devote at least two hours a week to realise this dream. 

This narrative is a story of my fictitious encounter with Bapu at my workplace, the day he took a new avatar to reiterate his teachings. The characters referred to in the narrative are fictitious and any resemblance to anybody is, therefore, purely co-incidental.

October 02, 2014:

It was a bright Thursday morning. The sky was crisp blue in colour and was beautifully lit up by the vibrant rays of the sun at the horizon. The breeze was cool and refreshing and was punctuated by the chirping of birds and rustling of leaves. What a lovely weather it was, I thought, admiring the serenity of the environment. It was 8:00 a.m. and I was already prepared to leave for office. Unlike other days, this time I decided to take a bus to my office instead of boarding the Delhi Metro. I had barely reached the bus stop when I found the bus for route number 901 already waiting there for the passengers. Whoa! I got in as fast as I could and grabbed a seat next to the window. The conductor obliged me with the ticket and with that began the journey, a smooth ride in an air conditioned bus. Wait, gone are the days when the buses were rickety and the journey tiresome. Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has indeed undergone a metamorphosis in the last five years. The bus hit one road to another, stopping on several occasions on several stops and each time there was an exchange of passengers – inside and outside the bus. I could read the newspaper, nod occasionally at my fellow passenger’s words and crack a peanut or two each time the bus halted. Then came the most wonderful part of the journey when the bus passed by the Red Fort. A large number of school students had gathered at the ramparts of the majestic fort to take part in the Clean India Campaign. What a delightful sight it was to see young boys dressed as Gandhi and were joined by young girls dressed in colourful attire.


One could feel an air of celebration in the entire city. All government office buildings were beautifully decorated with marigold flowers and incandescent lamps and had a garlanded idol of Bapu placed on a high pedestal right at the main gate. After a brief exchange of morning greetings with my colleagues, I proceeded toward the conference hall, where all the employees had gathered to express their solidarity and read the pledge for a clean India. It was followed by distribution of samosas and laddoos (Indian delicacies). I found myself at fault in thinking of this event to be a ceremonial exercise or a mere political stint. Employees, right from the level of boss to the peon had actually made a contribution in this campaign and were equally enthusiastic to participate in more of such campaigns. The event concluded in about an hour and it being a gazetted holiday, most of the employees started leaving for their homes.

Alas! There were fault in my stars this day too or else I would not have been doomed to complete my assignments. I could see the jubilation in the eyes of my friends as they left for Cannaught Place to celebrate the day while I had to start the engine of my monotonous office routine. How envious I felt! By 11:00 a.m., there were hardly a couple of employees working in the office and we were joined by a couple of security guards. I started building my concentration and decided to finish my work as soon as possible. But time ceases to move when you want it to move and it ceases to stop when you want it to stop. With a deadline to meet, I was experiencing the latter situation.

It was around 1:30 p.m. when, working alone, I started feeling claustrophobic – a morbid fear of being in a confined space. Strange and spooky thoughts started surfacing in my mind which was further reinforced with the revelation of a few haunted experiences that happened in the past. The sound of the clock needle moving or the tube light flickering made me feel uncomfortable. And then suddenly something happened that made me shudder with fear. I could hear someone writhing in pain as if the person was being beaten with clubs or lashed with a whip. I swallowed a whiff of air and got up to find out the source of the sound. I chased the screams as far as I could and was led to the sixth floor, which was otherwise always locked. The door creaked as I opened it; there was no lock on the latch. I paced my steps on the corridor, took a left turn, then a right turn, but was still unable to hunt that sound. I went on to roam around the floor and reached a diversion. Barely had I raised my left feet to take the next step when a chair came rolling toward me. I was left aghast! In that dimly lit corner, the chair stopped and started revolving on its wheels. I could see a yellow shape rolling on the chair, leaning itself on the backrest and looking right into my eyes. My hands froze and my legs got buried in the ground. I felt choked and couldn’t scream. I found myself unable to show any sign of locomotion and could only recite a few prayers in my mind. Fortunately, it worked; the maha mrityunjaya mantra that I had learnt in my childhood was showing its strength to me today. The chair crashed against a wall and made a terrible screeching sound that could have made a person go deaf. 


I felt emaciated as I got up and moved toward the chair. Voila! I finally found out the ‘yellow thing’ on the chair. It was a beam of sunlight that sieved through an old broken window and fell directly on the chair. The motion of the blades of an old rusted exhaust fan fixed across the window gave a flickering effect to this light. Oh sunshine! Thou art nearly killed me with trauma! The screams stopped and a group people emerged from the darkness. They looked like freedom fighters. Yes, they indeed were! In a trice they encircled me and started chanting ‘vande mataram’, gyrating on the floor. Was I hallucinating? Yes, I was. No, I wasn’t. I closed my eyes, with both my hands covering my ears. They disappeared in a while, but the echo of their chants didn’t. I summoned all my courage and started walking briskly toward the exit. The door closed with a bang as I left the floor.


I had a sigh of relief, gulped some water and spilled some on my shirt in my haste. I tried to forget what happened and resumed my work from where I had left and started working on a few reports. The mosquitoes hovering under my desk made me more and more impatient but the only help I could seek for myself was scratch my skin till it turned red. Another hour passed and the same fear started surfacing in my mind again. This time I had an ominous feeling that somebody was sharpening a sword by bruising it back and forth over a slab. This was further joined by zapping of electricity and sharp sound of snapping noises.
 

Continue reading - Glimpse of Gandhi : Part II

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My blog is an innovative amalgamation of my thoughts, how i perceive and react to different events in the ordinary business of life and at the same time entertain the readers and sensitize them.