Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oh Dear Gandhi!

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

“Such cute little things,” said Gandhiji, munching his dhokla with one hand, “Come here Yuva, give this little guy a scratch.”

“But you said scratching in the public is not good manners.” replied Yuva promptly.

“Scratching yourselves in the public is not good manners, but that rule applies only to oneself.”

“So, I can scratch others in public?”

“No, you can’t, and you shouldn’t. But scratching pets is okay, anywhere.”

“Bapuji, I’m not sure cats are okay with scratching anywhere. They aren’t like dogs, besides that cat is looking at me murderously.”

“I meant anywhere, in public or in private, didn’t mean anywhere on the cat. No will you come give it a scratch or not? After all, it was your pet.”

“No, I won’t, you know I stopped loving cats, not after they behaved as if they never saw me when my cousin came. They abandoned me and went to cuddle that cousin of mine and I’m telling you, she’s a mean girl,” said Yuva tracing an ‘S’ on the table with his finger, absentmindedly.

“So she’s a mean girl huh? Well, all girls are.”

“Not all, why can’t all girls behave like Shruthy, she’s intelligent, kind, understanding and love--” suddenly Yuva checked himself and stopped, and continued, “loving towards animals.” He almost came close to saying out ‘lovely’. 

He wished Gandhiji would become busy again, over few years he suddenly had found a leisure time. Not because he wanted to but because he was forced to. The time between late afternoons to dusk, most of his programs suffered a lack of proper attendance from the masses, it was almost always just the ashram members attending during those times, sitting out of compulsion and trying not to yawn too much.

Gandhiji reasoned maybe people were sleepy during afternoons and preferred a proper siesta to his lectures. He tried to make peace with the fact and made it his time of leisure where he could relax. Although Yuva knew the real reason for the poor attendance, he didn’t want to reveal, because he promised the villagers, but now he’s having second thoughts, for more leisure to Gandhiji meant little time to him to be with Shruthy.


The crowd struggled hard to keep down their feverish excitement and muffled sounds came out, unable to contain grinning, there was a gaggle of excited noises. Indians are not used to stifling their laughs.

So Gandhiji asked them straightforward, “Why not share your happiness with me, after all, I always do.”

So one villager extricated himself from throng, with a turban and mud particles clinging to his crops of chest hair, which obviously showed he just celebrated, a little too much, rolling in the mud, let huge sigh of relief, finally at being able to open his mouth tell everything. In an uncharacteristically high pitched tone he yelled, “And we had to hit the last ball for a six, and our guys did, in fact, hit it over the rope, to the cow corner, yahoo!!”

Yuva’s heart was beating fast, he feared its thumping might make enough noise to attract attention of the people, yet at the same time a guilty tiredness seemed to grip him, making him go weak in the limbs.

“Holy cow!!! They hit to cow corner, our own guys, see how this sport is desecrating our sacred animals,” bellowed Gandhiji.

“But Gandhiji it is just terminology, there weren’t really any cows at that corner,” replied the same villager.

“Doesn’t matter, cows or no cows, it’s still a cow corner and we must maintain a healthy respect towards it.”

The damage was done. The secret is now revealed, and the realization sent a frisson among the people, as they thought about the ramifications. Yuva was shifting uncomfortably in his place and was readjusting his posture for umpteenth time that evening. Now he almost moved to the edge of his chair.

“So this is what you guys were up to, all the afternoons. Now I see the reason for such poor attendance in noon and evening sessions. You guys were playing cricket, and it seems you were even playing with the Britishers. That too, after I’ve clearly instructed you not to. Cricket is an English game. Outrageous! You, tell me exactly how you people were managing it.”

The villager, who was so enthusiastic earlier, has the air sucked out of him now. He removed and undid his turban and confessed that they were indeed playing cricket, that too practicing in a neighboring village so as to get maximum possible immunity from Gandhiji and the ashram inmates. They were not just playing locally anymore, there was even an “Indian test team”, which was playing international test matches.

Gandhiji was roaring with anger now, “Hey Ram, I can’t believe you abandoned a direct order. I asked for a simple thing, to not play cricket, as it was an English game through and through. You know what, this is treason.”

“Um, Bapuji, er, I’m not sure it’s treason; you’re neither a dictator nor the government.”

“Shut up, you imbecile.”

Yuva lapsed into an aggrieved silence, never in his life he saw Gandhiji firing with such anger. He was burning with rage. Suddenly it started raining heavily, a thunder less rain; it seemed as if the nature was too frightened to issue forth the lightning and thunder in the wake of Gandhiji’s ferocity.

“You are all a bunch of clowns, who can’t tell apart a kitchen rat from a kangaroo, you couldn’t have set up a national team; now just tell me how you did it?”

Almost all of the people present there swallowed hard and there was a collective sound of gulp, they all said in unison, “No Bapuji, w-we-um managed ourselves.”

“Lies. You even retort to telling lies to me? To me? How dare you? Tell me who did it, or else I’m never going to talk to you. I’ll shut this ashram down and go back to London.”

People loved Gandhiji dearly, and though it hurt them to tell the truth, they had no choice. Slowly their hands began to raise, with just their index finger outstretched, the finger which has been used to accuse from times immemorial, at Yuva.

“Shit,” cursed Yuva, as a sea of fingers pointed at him.

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