No, it wasn’t the 14th of Nov, his birthday, and many if they’d seen him, would have recognized him by the red rose he so dandily wore on the jacket appropriately named after him. But, like I said, it wasn’t his birthday, and no reason for him to have left the skies and the great beyond, to visit the land he’d loved and had so passionately helped free. But he had decided to pay a visit and a visit he was paying:
“What are you doing in my room Chachajee?” asked the bearded man as he beheld his visitor, somewhere in the dead of night.
“Well, this was once my room too!” said the midnight visitor, “and no, don’t hug me!”
“But that is what I do to everybody, all over the world!”
“Such gestures don’t work!” whispered the midnight visitor, with the red rose on his lapel, “Once I thought like you, and the ones who taught me a lesson are the same hoodwinkers now doing the same to you!”
“I hugged him in Beijing! Hugged him in Mahabalipuram, and today look what they’ve done to twenty of my men!”
“Thousands of mine were killed too!” said the one with the rose on his jacket sadly, “and when they betrayed me, all I remembered were those hugs and handshakes I had given them!”
“So where did we go wrong?” asked the bearded man.
“For me, it was thinking that it was my personality, my charisma, that could make deals across the world, but that’s not the way the world functions, I realized too late!”
“But they hugged me back so well! Our people loved seeing me doing this!”
“Our people are the only ones fooled with our hugs and handshakes,” said the old man wearily, “And the first ones who will criticize you later!”
“That I can already see!”
“Which is why I came!”
“To tell me to stop hugging?”
“Not just hugs, but to tell you what I learnt; that you can’t shape foreign policy round a hug, that we cannot run a country around our personality and trust only our intellect! In a democracy we listen to advisors, the learned and thinkers. We use the talents of those with specialized knowledge, and realize that they with the finest minds and greatest knowledge may not be us. That I cannot bring the world to acknowledge my country through my charm, my personality and my thoughts alone, but through the ideas of every Indian!”
The old man with a rose in his coat left the room, that was once his bedroom, and went back to the great beyond, where he lived with his slain daughter, and her slain son..!(Published on 22nd June 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 26)