It was a beautiful cloudy evening in Pune, with some mild showers. A beautiful time to have some coffee and I walk up to the coffee house, near by. With a little disappointment to have coffee alone in such a romantic weather, I entered the place. Coffee, generally isn’t known for its quality of giving kick, but it sure got me this time, for its mere smell, as I enter, made me see, Gandhi, sitting on the table by the window. Weak and Pale, Bapu, was not really being noticed in his white dhoti and bare torso. His long stick, leaned in the corner. His persona seemed so picture perfect, exactly as I saw in the history books. Strange he enjoyed coffee too, I thought.
I sat the table next to him, by the balcony, enjoying the rain, just as he was. Just as I began to think if I should talk to him, as if he read my mind, he asked me to join him and there began the conversation between the two eras, beyond the limits of what we call time. Seemed like a time travel to me.
He looked with amazement at the he-believed-machine-like-typewriter-without-paper, my laptop. After several questions he asked me on it, our conversation went back in time, my first question was what was Mahatma,when was not a mahatma?
I always wondered what it was to be called Mahatma, and how could have been a journey from Gandhi to Mahatma Gandhi. Entangled in this thought, I suddenly noticed a broad smile on his face, as if he was expecting this question. His response wasn’t simple. “I am a Mahatma, because you thought I was. All I did was let my actions speak for me and let my thoughts turn into actions. I practice what I preach.” said Bapu. Adding to it Bapu said “The difference between the two was the 11 wow’s that he made. Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha,Sharirshram, Aswad, Sarvatra Bhayavarjana, Sarva Dharma Samantva, Swadeshi,SparshBhavana.” and I listened with an awed look on my face, for I did not understand most of it. He then added “Often the title has deeply pained me; and there is not a moment I can recall when it may be said to have tickled me.”
Not satisfied by asking one of the many questions to Bapu, I went ahead. I asked “Bapu, I was watching a movie the other day and I overheard, people accusing you of overdoing the task of achieving Independence and that every time you kept India before anything and you did nothing else.” With a not so shocked to hear my comment, he said “It was not me who made me fight for the country, it was you”. A stunning answer to hear, I almost spilled my coffee, I asked “Me ??!!”. He said “I was worried about you and all your friends and he who spoke that I overdid my duty, to see you free today. It what I have come to see today. How are you doing, free.”
A very thought provoking answer, such selfless answer that I got, and I wondered why has he still not got title “Saint”. Well it never matters a saint though, I thought he was, so, I didnt really bother.
I went ahead asking “Did you ever think if you imposed your Ideas on people?” May be this time I made him think. With some sense of pride, I waited for his answer and I got “Have you ever seen a child with his father?”, I nodded. Going ahead, he said “The father ensures his well being by asking him to do certain things in the way he feels better, for the child’s well being. Does this mean, the father is imposing himself of his ideas? The India then was different, people were as ignorant as a child, How could I have left them.” For the first time I felt him being defensive.
I went on to ask another serious question. I asked “Did you expect this India?” I decided to look away from me. He was, may be, ashamed. After some moments of silence, Bapu, looked back and in low voice said “I feel like a poster boy today. I feel that I am merely man who is so helpless hanging up the wall. All my efforts seems to be futile today. We dont seem to be independent at all, it was the British then, today it is us. The virtues seems to have ciezed to exist. The values are no more, that I can see. I see no love and respect and the most of all, today, if your Bapu calls for his nation, he has a doubt if many would come.
After a series of such questions, may be it was my chance to answer his question. He asked “Did I complete my job?” I had no answer. For what more could I have asked. I cannot imagine myself fighting for the independence, he gave it to us and we have no value. In the name of “moving on”, we have showed cowardice, not able to live up to a Gandhian dream. Without even a pinch of shame in eyes, we have started gossiping about the controversies. Right beneath his picture, there are bribes being paid, happily accepted too. Where have the values gone, where is life ?
This article is merely a work of fiction. It has been purely a personal idea about thoughts of Gandhi.