The Last Few Days

A lot of people ask me why I went to Ramlila Maidan.

Why was I there?

There were more than enough reasons not to. There were questions and doubts about what will come out of the whole show. There were questions about whether this was the right way of doing things. There were questions about people’s morality. There were questions about people’s intelligence and whether they even knew what they were doing. There were doomsday predictions of the country going down the dark path towards complete anarchy.

Then there was the question of what my participation could possibly do? I am one slightly overweight, extremely lazy, overeducated fool devoid of any interest in things around him. What on earth could one completely dispensable character like me add to this movement?

Why was I there?

I did not go there for the TV cameras. In fact, I ran away from them. I did not think we were holding the country to ransom. I did not think that one law was going to change the country. Yes, I have paid bribes in the past. And no, I do not think that nothing will come out of it.

Why was I there?

I went there because this was the first time something hit my conscience.

I went because this was the first chance I got at redemption. I went because this was the first time I was not alone in the fight. I went because after 30 years walking around aimlessly around people who stoop for anything, there was someone who stood for something. I went because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to look myself in the eye.

I did not go there to win. I went there to fight.

I did not go spend days and nights there for Anna Hazare. Or his team. Or for the betterment of the nation. I did not go there to prove anything to anyone. I am not a social reformer. I am not an idealist.

I went there because when I stood there in the crowd of thousands, I was Anna. I was the clueless child looking with wide open eyes at a world it has never seen. I was the policeman standing watch. I was the exasperated old man begging for his pension. I was the paan chewing clerk unwilling to do his job. I was the journalist reporting the extraordinary turn of events. I was the critic saying this is a waste of time. I was everything we hated to become and yet have turned out exactly that way.

I went there because I was revolting against myself.

I don’t know about the rest of the country and the teeming billions it holds. I don’t know about Anna and his team. I don’t know about the government.

I just know that I am not the same person I was before the moment I stood in that muddy ground looking up at that frail 80 year old drinking water and honey. Something cracked that morning, never to be mended again.

Why was I there?

Because I just had to.

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