Sunday, March 1, 2015

Madrasapattinam #1

For a background info on Yuva, head on to the Yuva Prequel story.

On a monsoon day after the Quit India movement, Gandhiji was suffering from a mild fever and stayed back in the ashram and was being attended to by Yuva. 

“You need to get that shroud away”, suddenly said Yuva. 

“What shroud?” asked a perplexed Gandhiji. 

“That thing which engulfed you internally and had been bothering you, you look so desperate and lost.” 

Hmmm! Easier said than done.... Yuva, come here.”

Yuva sat on Gandhiji’s string bed and moved nearer to him. 

“I have a confession to make.”

“Are you going to say that you loved someone while you're in England but broke up?”

“Yes, I mean no,” Gandhiji panicked, “How the hell did you deduce? You’ve got spies on me?”

“Relax, don’t get so worked up, I was just kidding. So it’s indeed true, after all. Who was she?”

“Forget it Yuva, it’s a long and sad story,” said Gandhiji, staring the dirty yellow wall.

“Why are you looking at the wall? Why did you not marry the love of your life, Bapuji?”

“It’s etiquette to stare onto a wall when talking about a long lost love. You’re too young to understand that. Make a note of this; ‘If you want your love to become your cherished memory forever, never marry your love,’” replied Gandhiji looking back at him and added, “Besides, am not a Madrassi to get hooked with a Britisher. Now let’s get back to business.”

“Of course you want to get back to business; after all you’re a Gujarati, only you gujjus can jump from a discussion of love to business,” chuckled Yuva.

Yuva, I’m serious.”

He was tempted to say, 'No you're Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi' but decided against it. “Ok, I'm sorry, just thought a little humor might aid you. So, what's the confession about?”

“You realize how effectively British has suppressed the Quit India movement? I believed it was a foolproof campaign, one that will definitely ensure India its independence. But the way it failed, I'm not even sure if I'm on the right path. Do you suppose I made a mistake when I didn't support the likes of Bhagat Singh and Bose? I always believed nothing in the world is worthy of bloodshed. But frankly, I'm not sure anymore.”

Ufffff!  Just a minute, that's a lot to digest. I'm convinced it's the fever that's making you talk this way. Remember what you told me when I was a little kid. To quote you, 'There's a reason why people are not given horns or claws, but a mouth which can speak, Humankind is blessed with intelligence so that they can talk and reason with people without retorting to violence'  I still believe in that.” 

“Then why did the Quit India movement fail? You know what's even more alarming? Many Businesses men from India didn't support the movement as they were being profited by the heavy wartime expenditure of England. And several Civil service officers didn't support the movement, particularly in Madras where it's of utmost importance to have a successful campaign. Without weakening the hold of the British on Madras it's impossible to attain independence.” explained Gandhiji. 

“What makes you consider Madras would play a vital role in the freedom struggle?” asked Yuva, “I thought Bengal was the most important province.”

“The reasons are one too many. It's a coast with access to other British colonies in Southeast Asia. And Madras is the place where they had one of the first governor generals and the English school system. Can you believe they have around 200 English schools in the Madras region alone? Madras has the oldest British church, which witnessed marriages of the legendary Elihu Yale, after whom the Yale University derives its name and of Robert Clive. They've even opened a damn cricket stadium there.

“Tamil people have always been most welcome and when the British entered from the South they made good friends there and got intertwined. They've made Madras like a second England, it's a municipal corporation. They've started a bank and even made a new structure they're calling a mall. Heck, Madras reminds me of London more than London reminds me of London.

“Britishers are deep-rooted in Madras, and even Germans understood the vitality of Madras. It is Madras they've bombed during World War 1 in their fight against England.”

After a prolonged silence Yuva spoke, “So you think if we can somehow drive them out of Madras, we have a possibility of Independence?”

“Definitely, I'd bet all my money.”

“Yeah right, like you've got a lot,” said Yuva with a wink and added, “You worry about the rest of India I'll take care of Madras, and after all I'm half Tamilian.” 

“You? And here I was thinking I was being delusional because of my fever. Also, it's safe to say I look more like a Tamilian than you do, thanks to your complexion which is not swadeshi if you ask me,”

“Ha-ha, very funny. Jokes aside, trust me on this. I'll leave to my Grandparents house tomorrow.”

“You're so young and naive, and have no idea what you're signing up for, give me one good reason why I should trust you with a matter as important as this.”

“Because, you and your entire team including your strategist Nehru dada are clueless what to do.”

“Fair enough! I'll ask Vinobha ji to escort you to Madras.”

“Next time I meet you, you can almost certainly expect a positive result.” 

continued in part 2

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