“There isn’t Gandhi in there”, cried my friend, raising his brows and his hands, exhausted to extremes, glaring at the surreal stone gate, which has the names of more than 13,560 Indian and British soldiers written on it, who died fighting in “France and Flanders”, “Mesopotamia & Persia”, “East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere.”
“He must be here only, you aren’t searching properly!”, I replied searching on those vast contours that never disappointed me.
It was one thing in Delhi that I owned, that I could always trust . People come here for acceptance, for dreams, for a future. It doesn’t seem much friendly at first, not when you have a place full of individuals who can’t be even classified as ‘almost humans’. They are still few miles shy from being human, and wearing t-shirts pronouncing the said phrase doesn’t help much.
But when you live among its relics of love, pain, death, fury and life, it’s hard not to fall in love. You need someone in a big city to take care of you. You need India Gate. We called it ‘The Gate.’
I do not know why but sometimes back I spread a lie among my friends that Gandhi’s name was in there among the martyrs. No one debated the authenticity of the fact. No one needed to. We were all awed by it’s beauty and we all knew it was a lie.
We went there every now and then to search for Gandhi. We later developed an illusion that name of every soldier who has lost his life was written on it’s welcoming pillars. And after, we were proud of the ‘fact’ that there is still one Governmental Unit left, doing it’s work with utter tenacity and regularity. We imagined when no visitor was there at the Gate, the bureaucracy took over the rigorous task of updating the names. We imagined laborers standing on scaffolds performing the sacred task of etching history. It was the most important structure in Delhi, or for that matter, in the whole world. We imagined it all to be true. We created our own little myth. We loved our own little myth. We were Bogarts, searching for an important name, only important to us. We went there at night. We knew that secrets are unveiled under stars..
One day as I was depressed, due to reasons our whole generation is depressed, simply nothing, I put on a grave countenance, and was thrilled to explore those sublime depths of sadness, where everything unimportant attaches itself with a meaning and the things that meant something become obsolete and dry. That day I went to my home of grief, the place that gave meaning to my seeming sadness, The Gate. I knew that day I could have found Gandhi. It would have been a new chapter in our myth.
But it was closed! Closed to visitors after evenings. I told them I wasn’t a visitor! I had been involved in that case for a long time. I was someone who had a myth. You can’t stop a person who has a myth! I was there, standing with my overwhelming sadness being frisked and abused by guards as I tried to force my way inside. I knew that day I could have found Gandhi. But it was closed. It has been for a long time now. It’s a new sadness.
But maybe it isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe they have closed it as they are writing new names in there. Maybe they are adding the names of all those being killed each day in sheer futility. I will confirm this myth when they open again for nights. I know that secrets are unveiled under stars.
I’ll let you know if I find Gandhi.
Photo Courtesy: www.oldindianphotos.in