My friend Satish, the only graduate in my group, told me that the iron lady is actually a crook. She won by deceit in last elections so the courts pinned her. That Bengali, that Ray chap, the chief minister of West Bengal is a twisted man too. I have heard that he has ciphered the iron lady’s son, that bald rascal with a lopsided smile on his face. And the bald rascal along with the iron lady made the old hag, the president of ours sign the documents that declare emergency in India. See I don’t know what emergency is. I don’t know what Allahabad High court has said and why the Supreme Court agrees with its ruling. I don’t know who Raj Narain is. Sampoorna Kranti sounds fancy but no I am not a part of it. See, I am Nanhe, a man of humble origins. I stay in the slum near the Turkman gate in Delhi. I paint walls and ceilings day and night. I reek of limestone and varnish and of country liquor that I consume with delight every night with my friends in the slum.
All I know is that this Gandhi family is not the same old Gandhi family anymore. Their forefathers hated gareebi and this young breed hates us. Last night that rascal with the persistent lopsided smile on his face ordered his cronies to raze our slum. Look at the audacity of the iron lady’s son. And I don’t know why they call her the iron lady, probably because she has an iron heart. My friends tell me that we cannot appeal or complain any more. There is something called the fundamental rights that stand revoked. I am too simple to decode the technicalities of the emergency but my friends say that anyone can be jailed or beaten or killed without any reason. Even that Vajpayee was jailed along with his friends. That Vajpayee chap delivers wonderful speeches. I wonder if they are killed too. But they are not just murdering, they are sterilizing us too. They say, we are the biggest impediment to the nation’s growth, and that we breed like rabbits. They say that they are cutting our reproductive ducts for our benefits and for the benefit of the country. One of my friends was dragged and sterilized in a makeshift tent. He is still a lucky man, I’ll say. His nephew was barely 17 years old, he too was dragged and sterilized to control population. He died three hours after the operation. My friend’s right leg is swollen and is turning blue with each passing day. My guess is that he’ll join his nephew in a few days’ time.
You know Kishore Kumar is banned on All India Radio. He refused to sing the iron lady’s eulogy on the radio so the tall monkey…what’s his name…that Shukla chap…banned him. Who is Shukla to ban Kishore Kumar? They even banned the Lathiwaale swayamsevak? They also banned the Keertan Mandli at the local temple. All days jeeps pass by shouting “India is Indira, Indira is India”. I am not Indira, and I am definitely not his son. And If I am India and she is India too then why is she demolishing my house without providing me with an alternate place to stay? Either I am not India or she is not. Satish says that she is more like Germany. She is like that German guy who loved killing people in gas chambers.
They say my house is ugly and so is my slum. Fine, make me a beautiful house then. But no they say that they’ll bulldoze it. I won’t let them bulldoze my house unless they provide me with an accommodation. I will be in the first row of the protestors. If they want to bulldoze our houses, they’ll have to kill us first. My son is not well, he has got these terrible spots all over his body and he keeps itching all day. He’ll scratch himself to death if I don’t take him to a doctor soon. I’ll quickly take him to the hospital and get his itch fixed. I have to be here at Turkman before the nightfall so that I can protest against the oppression. Nanhe is India, India is Nanhe.
These rascals aren’t letting me get out of the hospital premises. They say that the entire city has been sealed. Police is opening fire on hapless protesters all across the city. I hope my people are safe. They must be thinking that I am a coward. I want to be there.
My wife is dead. She was shot in the eyes. Both my sisters are dead too. They got trampled upon. All my friends are dead. Satish is dead too, the only graduate in my group. He was in the first line, people say. I could have been in his place. My slum is reduced to debris. I can’t even locate my house. It is there probably. I can’t see any familiar faces. Sirens are wailing. People are wailing. Should I wail too? I don’t feel like crying. I am still to come to terms with the fact that everything that I owned and everyone whom I was connected with are gone. And we cannot appeal. Remember what my friends told that we cannot appeal or complain any more. There is something called the fundamental rights that stand revoked. See I don’t know what emergency is. I am too simple to decode the technicalities of the emergency. I am Nanhe, a man of humble origins. I used to stay in the slum near the Turkman gate in Delhi. I painted walls and ceilings day and night. I reeked of limestone and varnish and of country liquor that I consumed with delight every night with my friends in the slum.
PS: This is not a true story but Turkman slum demolition was a reality. All other facts mentioned in the article are true too.