It is the night of August 14th. You are sleeping peacefully until a lady, who identifies herself by the name of Mother India, wakes you up and starts talking. What does she talk to you?
I felt it’s serenity reach my heart even before I knew where I was, it calmed the ripples of unease in me. As I walked through, I realised it to be a meadow.
Tiny flowers lay at my feet among the grass, swaying with the gentle,cool wind and were blue like as if reflecting the sky above. The sun was high and bright. Whatever it’s radiance touched, seem to become brilliant as if they have their own inner glow too.
A young girl caught my eye. She stood a few yards from me. A lamb was beside her; pulling the hem of her frock-wanting her attention. But she wouldn’t even look at the lamb.
I went up to her. Asked her who she was.
She replied-” You probably want to hurt me…don’t you? Use me for your personal gain! Everyone is selfish. There is no humanity left. It happens everyday..everywhere. Somewhere someone is harassed, oppressed and even killed. It has become the order of things. This place is gripped by poverty, corruption and what not! I have a hectic life yet I try to do something. The system is too harsh. I want the change.I care. But no one else does. Some are too busy, some are distracted and deluded, and some just don’t care.”
” I agree but who are you?”
“I am but merely a reflection of you…” she said, in her hoarse voice and continued. “No one to rely on. Leaders are betraying. No one to trust. Screams and screams everywhere. What has this place become!!”
She outstretched her arms and I looked around to see the sun was quickly going behind the emerging dark clouds. The wind was turning cold and rough. The entire ambience echoed dullness and morose.
I heard the painful baying of the lamb. We both looked in it’s direction and saw a fox dragging the lamb away from us.
She yelped and ran after the fox, I followed her, hoping,somehow I help her and her lamb.. But the fox had gotten away and quickly vanished from our sight
She dropped on the ground, crying and plucking the grass out in anger, regret and guilt.
I said,”There is still hope.” I nudged her to get up.”We are wronged,neglected and hurt but we can fight back. We should do something. It is ours.”
“Yes! Yes! You are right.”,she said, her voice silky now.
And before my eyes she transformed into a lady. A beautiful one. In her tricolor saree she resembled the image of Mother India we had on the covers of our social textbooks. I admired her. But her eyes…didn’t feel right. They were emotionless.
But when she looked right into my eyes, instantly, nothing mattered to me but her. Her voice, her beauty and the way she looked at me seemed to have seized my heart.
She said,”We must have what is ours.No matter what the price. We should not bear the injustice.Our past is glorious. Our ancestors were brave. They did a lot for us. Our culture is pure. We must keep it like that. Once we have it, we will protect it from anyone who doesn’t agree with us. Let’s fight and serve the greater purpose.”
I nodded to whatever she said. I felt important standing there with her.
Few drops of sweat trickled down my face. A stench of blood reached me. I break away from the gaze to see everything burning around us. My eyes dropped and at her feet I saw the lamb bleeding and still.
Frightened, I stumbled and took a few steps away from her. There was nowhere to go.
“Who are you ..”, I screamed,” Get away from me..who are you!”
“I am but merely your reflection…”,came the reply.
I saw the fire approach us rapidly. Unable to comprehend; shocked, scared and confused, I buried my face in my hands and closed my eyes as tightly as I could. I wanted to run away from there.
“I am not you..”, I shouted,” I am neither of you..”
“Then who are you?” This time her voice was not silky. It wasn’t coarse. It was different.
I looked up to see myself surrounded by nothing. I was relieved. It wasn’t dark. It wasn’t bright. Yet the figure,now,before me looked indistinctive, shadowy.
“I am a canvas, your canvas, you can paint me as you wish. My identity is nothing but you. A nation is the reflection of its people. So now, I will leave you to figure out who you are…”