What if the iconic khadaus (wooden slippers) walked their way out of the libraries and museums? What if they raged a march to freedom yet again? What if… ?
“Mahatma Gandhi, popularly known as the Father of the Nation, was an Indian activist who led the Independence movement against the British. His non-violent ways and peaceful methods….”.
My daughter was busy memorizing the lines, trying to get the facts and dates correct. History exams were slated the day after and she was having a nightmare, understanding how a man, clad in khadi dhoti and a shawl wrapped around his body, could wreck the roots of the colonial power. Tired with the loud narrations on Gandhi’s march to freedom, she popped a question,
“Mom, what if Gandhi was alive, today? I might as well imagine him in denims and a bright tee, addressing a crowd, than hold a stick and walk miles”.
Horrified and amazed by her imagination, I asked her to get back to books while my mind conjured images of a new-age Mahatma, a citizen of the 21st century. Would he exude a flamboyant persona wrapped in class and elegance or bear the same lean and docile nerdy look with round specs hanging onto the bridge of his nose?
Pulling out my diary, I tried a rough sketch of the world from the Gandhian lens. What would this guy look like? A well-learned professional with a body stuck in the maze of worldly affairs and a rebellious mind that yearns to breathe in fresh air. A responsible countryman with chic style up his sleeves and yet loyal to philosophically-driven disciplines. Perhaps a lawyer who finds pride in serving the nation than a foreign soil.
While all was well as an individual, what would be this patriot’s identity?
An active face on popular social media handles, addressing the youth at several forums. An exclusive webpage titled ‘My Experiments with Truth’, with slogans of ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever’ indented in bold on the cover. The epithet of ‘most searched celebrity’ crowning his name while a twitter handle flooding with his lines on ills of raging corruption and the importance of being a progressive nation. Countless followers applauding his selfless efforts and living on the motto of spreading a passion for learning.
Revolutions back then were built on sweat and blood while the current age is more about power and possessions. How would this nationalist trigger a revolution in a country infected with innumerable flaws? Poverty-struck, corrupted, polluted and superstitious, the ‘Son of the Nation’ would have to battle issues, which perhaps Gandhi might have never comprehended. It gives me goosebumps to imagine ‘Bapu’ without a stick and that confident march for Satyagraha.
Nonetheless, cut to 2020 and microphones would have replaced the stick; riots and nation-wide strikes may have made the way for non-violence and peace movements; fake ministerial promises might have seen the door; Justice might have been the core.
And, how could we possibly miss media’s intervention in creating a ‘Hero’ of this good Samaritan? TEDx talks flooding the internet and media houses speaking his language. Gandhi being the new face of eco-friendly merchandise and peace treaties with the UN. Biopics on the MAN would have set the cash bells ringing at the box-office. Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan would have seen the elite lend a hand in service.
“Mom, help me with this Dandi March. Life would have been simple without this Man”.
My daughter jolted me out of my thoughts. Perhaps she was equally agitated with Gandhi’s persona as I was in my attempts to find the activist’s brain in a new body.
Phew!! Imaginations can be wild.
My diary now reflected pages scribbled with thoughts of where did we lose the Man who ruled by integrity and discipline. What in Gandhi had made him the Man the world worships till date. Was it his mild disposition that had led people to follow his ideologies or the power of his thoughts and strong conviction in his beliefs that had the mass submit their soul to him?
If it’s the latter then I believe the values and integrity of his demeanour can be imbibed in our kids. His ideologies can be revisited in our teens and his faith can be seen roaring in new-age India. Perspectives can bring a shift in the wildest sea and if this stands true so can our attempts in keeping the Legend alive.
Let’s restore the country that the feeble eyes had once envisioned and bring back the glory the stick had set upon winning from the British.