“So a country was born in the year nineteen hundred and forty seven,” Addy sucked through what was left of the golden puff and coughed his lungs out. Clearing his throat he continued, “I get that but what was going on in Nehru’s mind? I mean what was he thinking?”
With the poetic eloquence reminiscent of Jawaharlal Nehru he went on, “At the stroke of the mid-night hour when the world sleeps India awakes. I mean half of the world was awake if not less; the West you know, and I am sure most of Asia would have already begun their day of hard work. And look at the people; they eulogize the speech as if it was a masterpiece.”
Scorning at the way young minds have been conditioned en masse Addy struck the wall at his back with his fist.
“Well let me tell you, neither was the speech a masterpiece nor was this guy the grandmaster.”
“It’s true that history is written by people who are in power but thanks, I am a happier person going through facts and raw data and form my own opinion and draw my own conclusions.” Addy blew the shred of grass that remained glued on the tip of his tongue and aimlessly stared at the soft night bulb in the room.
“1947, a nation born
Bones broken and flesh torn
Hopes high promises tall
It’s all physics dude
What goes up must fall”
That’s Bodhi and he was sitting in a dark corner of the room. It was the side effect of when he got high, which was every other day. He spoke poetry, and maybe it was not, or maybe it was, but mostly he articulated the feelings of the members of the gathering through his poetry. So I was never surprised if he weaved into his words a completely radically opposite idea, contradicting what he might have manifested into his poetry a moment ago.
He was our supplier of theatrics, our poetic commentator and the modulator, slightly short of being the master of ceremonies.
I am Adinath, and these frequent gatherings take place in my small room in a congested lane behind Kirorimal College or KMC as it is popularly known. The main attraction of my room is not the open discussions that take place almost everyday here. That is in fact the after effect, the labour of love after the consummate affair with what I grow in a secret room lined up with LED lights. The best marijuana in Delhi is grown here and is available only to a select coterie of four people including me who have taken an oath in the name of god.
The fourth member of this select group is Matrix who hasn’t come out of his closet yet. He is quite comfortable being there and is happy leading his own secret life. Not that it’s bad or anything and not that we are anti “expressing love” even if it’s through the bylanes of homosexuality. It was only for our own simplification of the complexities we were in, or for the fear of the crowding out of whatever simplicities were left in our life; we made Matrix go through an additional oath scripted in the most simple of the words by me.
“I shall not hit upon or flirt with any of the members of this esteemed gathering so as to test their vulnerabilities and break or compromise the sole objective of this group, to stone everything bad because there’s nothing good left, and be stoned, for that’s the only cocoon that can protect us and let us be.”
Matrix did feel once that we were anti-closeted souls but he found out the truth the very first day. We were all anti-establishment and in no uncertain terms belonged to the same group with like aspirations and the congruence of alienation that most of the people like us are experiencing in this country.
“With a government that is completely out of sync and has not been able to evolve itself with the changing times and better the bad and uplift the worse, what else once could expect.”
“Yes, we are the oxymoron, who possess the stuff and get possessed by it, and there lies the beauty of it. When we get possessed, we leave the realm of self-aggrandizement, and transcend ourselves to the occult of an India, as dreamt by its largely ignored people.”
Matrix was rolling the OCB paper for yet another light round of blissful oblivion that each puff would take us with its rising smoke, leaving behind the odour which identifies the state of mind.
With Jim Morrison faintly playing in the background, we were four youths in this senseless world, smoking grass as their getaway, bringing order to the chaos. One could not ask for more.
Carefully licking one edge of the thin paper and then rolling between his fingers, Matrix was working on his yet another piece of art.
“What the government says and what it does and what it has been directed to do and the manner in which it should be done is full of contradictions.” Matrix was speaking his mind; the OCB paper rolling between his fingers was an involuntary activity for him, just like breathing.
“They say the government is by the people, for the people and of the people. And I don’t simply get it.” Matrix kept the paper aside carefully tucking it between the pages of his illegal lottery dossier, a racket that was being run by a Mr. Khanna in the alleys and with complete patronage of the Delhi police or a section of it.
‘How can you say that it’s a government “by the people for the people and of the people”? How can it be “by the people” if each and everything is doctored and directed in such a manner that it only upholds the letter of the law and not the spirit?’ Matrix looked at me, distraught and disoriented. I kept looking at him, reiterating my undivided attention to say what he had to, and assuring him that we can completely comprehend what he had to say.
“I mean what good can I choose for myself, if the only two jobs that are offered to me are a bloody blow job and a hand job? Similarly how can I choose a government from a basket of fruits, all different but all rotten or pickled at best? Do we get the fresh pickings of the season anyways? And then it becomes our choice.”
“Exactly!” I surmised.
Matrix smiled that whatever he said made sense. He knew he was touching a complicated topic and had to tread the thin dotted line carefully. He continued with caution.
‘And then how can you say that this government is for the people if the only definition for people in their human commodity accounts is the farmers and the villagers? How can they say it’s for the people if all their policies are designed to make it look like as if it benefits the mass? I doubt even if we figure in their list of to do. Well I have news for all of you, we do figure in that list and it reads “ignore the intelligentsia”’
“No, don’t think I am just blabbering out of my wits.” Matrix gesticulated to Addy who didn’t like this pseudo statement. He belonged to a family of farmers and he just wanted to point out the difference between the educated and the illiterate.
“You can’t categorize like that Matrix. Farmers are educated too, not every one of them is illiterate.”
Matrix pounced back, “My dear friend, don’t you understand the difference between a literate being and an educated one?”
“I have my reasons to say this, and my hypothesis has been confirmed.” Matrix ignored Addy and raced ahead. ‘Firstly I was named as “civil society”. I refute this because I am “the society” who knows everything. The government is run by a bunch of high-handed politicians for whom politics has become a large organized business—a business that grants them complete autonomy, and abnormal profits with no accountability. How is it that the so called people, the gullible populace that is either below or above the line but is never there and never will be to the Promised Land that has been shown to them by each and every government since independence.’
‘I am one and it is only me and people like me who have been able to unravel the big lie that has been fashioned in the countless yojanas and economic reforms as the gospel truth. And it’s because of this I am ignored. It’s because I am not ignorant and because I am fully informed and equipped to differentiate between the right and the wrong. It’s you and me who will never be looked after or cared for in this country. And they deliberately call us the “civil society”. Why? We are being conditioned to behave in civil manner only. You know, um, take your decision when the next election comes. You obviously don’t count; the “aam aadmi” is going to decide for us anyways.’
The marijuana was ready, and Matrix passed it on to Bodhi to light it. It was his turn to negotiate his culpable existence highlighted by intellectual masturbation and marked by social inactivity.
Bodhi took the rolled up OCB paper which was a thick cylinder now, the size of three cigarettes, comingled and bundled up. He took the marijuana with great reverence, touched it to his forehead and struck a match, lit it up and takes a long, deep first puff and after a moment’s soothing peace he exhaled a dense cloud of his rhyming pearls of wisdom, which would soon transformed itself into sound for others to absorb the energy in it. Taking one more deep puff and still another dense burst of smoke, he passed on the lightening sensation to Addy.
“On paper a democratic country
In idea a socialist country
In talks a secular country
By the people
For the people
Of the people
Monarchy by way of political dynasty
Socialism in the form of capital advocacy
And neck deep in secular shenanigans
Not ‘by’, ‘for’ and ‘of’, but
Who the people?
There was a loud cheer in the room as soon as Bodhi had finished. Matrix had conjured up a strong and perhaps the best one we had smoked in a long time. The atmosphere was gloomy now, with no hope in sight. What sort of constructive deconstruction was going on? For how long we must be the mute spectators? For how long we should raise our voices to a government which is deaf by choice? For how long we should listen to carefully drafted bureaucratic responses to our concerns? And for how long we should tolerate this man who speaks only the language of the office and is too shy to connect with the hearts of the people and speak their language or at least speak for them? These were the questions coming to our mind, and the stagnant situation bordering to the mundane had frustrated us.
The moment was long and the silence had become too strong. I forced myself into the realm. I knew the contradictions that we were facing.
“You know, I understand why there’s so much wrong in this country and nothing seems to be working.”
“Just take a look at the preamble to the constitution and I hope that you remember.”
Bodhi got into action and said in deep baritone:
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”
“Thanks for reinforcing our memory Bodhi,” Addy said in a bit irritating tone. He had a habit to take things just a little too personally.
“Friends, I imagined a dais in front of me, and stood up to speak, swaying in the strong wind, just the kind you feel when you are stoned.”
“Take a hard look and etch this in your memory for it is the need of the hour to restore this preamble to the constitution of India. Everything that you read here, every single line is in a state of contradiction today.”
‘To begin with “We the people” has already been characterized by “Who the people” by my dear friend, Matrix. There’s no Justice, for we don’t have a sound judicial system yet with millions of court cases pending. For what I remember justice delayed is justice denied, so there’s no question of justice, leave alone of the nature defined in this preamble. Liberty, there are a number of secular groups funded by political parties who only promote radicalism in the name of secularism, so you can kiss your liberty good bye. Equality of status and opportunity, kiss my butt. The economic dichotomy of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has widened further. The richer millionaires have become billionaires, and you know if you make thirty six rupees in a day, on paper you are not poor anymore. There goes the letter of the preamble and right there blown away in the smoke is the spirit of it.’
Matrix, Addy and Bodhi were laughing uncontrollably now and we all said in chorus, “Fraternity—dignity of an individual…yeah right”. The marijuana was taking over but I had my reasoning to make.
‘Do you know what the reason for this molestation is? It’s the heirs of the political dynasty that has captured the prime benches of the parliament. It’s them who have orphaned us of what we should have been having now. There’s no leader in this country who connects with the people and who speaks for them. They come from a political lineage and have been conditioned with the ways of the select few who take decisions for us. They have been fashioned and filed. Consider them as carrying on the legacy of their dead fathers and forefathers who cannot identify with the “I” of innovation, improvisation, and improvement. This nation needs a new breed of leaders who don’t know about politics as it has been taught by rote to the current political heirs. This nations needs leaders who have unlearned to think out of box to truly make this preamble work. Only then will we be able to achieve what we set out for at the first place.’
There was an air of excitement in the room. Sloshed by the liquor of doom and liberated by the grass of hope, we were exhausted and the gathering dispersed.
I woke up the next morning, with a rough throat and went to the balcony to gargle with hot water, a daily ritual. As I spit out the first mouthful of gargled water, my mind was crunching numbers trying to compute a statistical analysis.
How many people think the same way as the four of us do? But perhaps they don’t score every night as we do. Do you?