From India Gate we return to Jantar Mantar. We are instructed to walk without ‘slogans’. Not exactly Silent March, only no Slogans. I appreciate the wisdom of the organizers. They realize that people are tired. During our March towards India Gate earlier, we had innumerable slogans. Today it is not Candle March but ‘Plate and Spoon’ March – so that the government can hear the ‘voice of people’.
For last 45 minutes we have nonstop chanting of “Vande Maataram”. “Inquilaab Zindaabaad” and “Bhaarat Maataa kee Jay” are the two other popular slogans. One slogan that makes everyone smile is “Sonia Jisakee Mummy Hai, Vaha Sarkaar Nikammee Hai”. Not only youngsters but middle aged women and men are enthusiastically participating in the Protest March.
But as now there are no slogans, people are talking amongst themselves. I am walking alone. I have no one specific to talk to. So I overhear many conversations – to my left and right, behind me, in front of me – everywhere. It is all “off camera”. People do not know that I am listening to them.
A group of college students. One boy says,”You know, this is for the first time I am participating in a Protest March. Always watched in on TV and U Tube. I am feeling great about this.”
One of his friends must have smiled. Because the same voice asks, “Why are you smiling? I am not joking.”
His friend responds, “You talk about Protest March. As far as I remember, this is for the first time I am walking on the road for such a long time. Feeling good about it. There must be many people who have to walk daily. I am trying to imagine their life.”
There is another group of young boys and girls.
One boy emotionally says,”You know, this old man has no family.”
“What do you mean?” asks a girl.
“We all are his family,” argues another boy with fervor.
“Listen yaar! I am saying that he has no grandson, son, daughter, land, estate etc. to take care of. He is not fighting for himself. He is doing it for us – so that we live a better life” – the first boy explains.
“You never said a better thing than this,” his colleagues appreciate him.
And there is another group.
A girls says,”WC celebration was best, but this is bestest.”
“Why?” her friends want to know.
“Actual cricket is played by Sachin, Yuvi, MS, Zak, Gauti, Bhajji and others. We celebrate their victory, but our contribution is zero in that. But here we are actually contributing to a national cause,” she explains.
“Don’t forget that those 300 people on hunger strike are the real contributors. We are just walking,” a down to earth fellow reminds them.
“Sure, they are the real heroes. But we are also doing a squirrels’ job. This is a memorable moment of my life,” someone adds and everybody agrees – even the down to earth fellow!
One more group.
“Let us join Jail Bharo on 13th,” a girl suggests.
“What if they really put us in Jail? Will the police beat us? Will the college rusticate us?” another girl is certainly frightened.
“Come on yaar! Police will do nothing of that sort. There would be thousands of people – more than the jails can accommodate!” one boy explains.
Another boy motivates the group, “We have read about Bhagat Sing and other freedom fighters. They died for us. Now this is our time, our moment, and our responsibility. Let us not run away.”
“Yes, we will do it” they all say in one voice.
I see a middle aged woman walking alone. I speak to her. She is overwhelmed by the presence of youngsters – their number as well as their enthusiasm. She adds, “I appreciate and enjoy this atmosphere. Delhi crowds almost always misbehave with women. But here they are taking care of girls and women. If someone touches or pushes by mistake, he immediately says “sorry” and he means it. This is how a good cause, a good environment changes people.”