A piece of land in the Hindi heartland 125 years gave rise to a dispute. A century and quarter later, the country is hoping there will be closure. The Ramjanmabhoomi Dispute does not matter to me. I was too young in 1984 when the slogan was first thrown into the air. A little older in 1990, I didn’t know that two years later I would be left with a memory that would equate bandhs with school being called off. When the Babri Masjid came down, I didn’t have the advantage of watching 24*7 news coverage…neither, was I an avid news paper reader. However, with school being shut down and us grounded at home, I knew something wasn’t right. And despite all these years…I have my memories from 1992 etched in my mind forever.
Over the years, my consciousness of what happened in Ayodhya has changed manifold. It’s significance and ramifications is much more lucid now. For what started in 1992, had its after shocks in the following years. I want to believe in the spirit of secularism today more than ever. I want to believe that India has moved on. I want to believe that 2002 will not be repeated ever. I want to believe that we are in safer times. But there is a fear in each one of us…and for once I pray that we are all wrong!
I am not Tagore, and neither do I aspire to be! But since morning his poem is ringing in my head. I couldn’t hold my urge and had to put down my thoughts today. Tagore was the first non-European to claim the Nobel Prize for Literature, and it is from the same work of poetry, Gitanjali that I take inspiration…this early 20th century poem is as relevant today, but I have taken the liberty of changing it a bit…I hope, Tagore and his loyal followers would pardon me!
Where The Mind Is Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow religious walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of a bloodied past
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.