Bharat Mata and The Lion
Bharat Mata and The Lion6 mins 159 6 mins 159
"1947, we were right here, in this left dome of the red fort at midnight, looking down at the flagpole. It was beautiful. Finally, all the prayers ceased. Well, most of them! Silence. Tears of joy and full hearts. The feeling is something I can never fully explain. It is this day of the year I love most - Independence day - when all my children remember our freedom struggle and re-ignite their patriotism. What about you?"
"I may be a lion, Mata, but remember that I am also a part of you. Remember the time you created me, just before we appeared to the poor woman who fled into the jungle with her family. I was a symbol of valour and courage to assist you. I know. I remember. I still am. I often wonder why you needed a lion, though you are a goddess yourself! Maybe it is because you don't have weapons. Yes, I understand now. But why didn't they give me a name, you got 'Bharat Mata' and the dress and things to hold in your hands. Looks like injustice. I'm curious."
"As always," smiled Mata, gently caressing his mane.
"The flag post is silent and deserted, but it all seems like yesterday. I wonder if my people are happy. I wonder if they know I work hard for their prosperity. I clean the air, enrich the soil, make the birds sing tunes they like, yet I get no clue these days. My children have become busier. They toil hard in the day; they don't notice me there. They seem to know my presence when they pray for rain. At least I hope so."
"So, do you get a peek into their houses?"
"Well, nothing is restricting me from having a look, but I am, as I said, swamped. We get nights like this, but then the houses are asleep as well. I could have taken a look into their happy homes if I work when they're asleep, but I'd like to work with them when they are wide awake and cheerful."
"That was supposed to be a difficult question, Mata. I'm so glad you value your people's privacy. However, do you think they are all truly free?"
"Of course, they should be. My children work hard and earn their meal. Also, the British have gone back. There is no one to oppress them anymore."
"I think you are getting caught up in your work, Mata. A princess can see the pain of a peasant but will never feel it unless she is one. It is like admiring the painting of a calm pasture, unaware that the grass could prick."
"That was quite an observation! Do you think I act like a queen or princess? I give them all they need to live. Also, I prefer the simple saffron attire, the one that Abhaindranath portrayed me in. I use my jewellery and my best saree, but you know I have reserved those for apparitions and special occasions like these."
"Still, you are not one of them."
Suddenly taken aback, she paused for a moment and reflected on what he said.
"I have enjoyed the hard-earned peace of my children as a goddess. How can I be one of them? I can never know what peace looks like to a human. More than seventy years have passed. Still, why did I ever not think about this"
"Well, I serve my purpose. I'm always here to give you another perspective. Isn't it strange that we have not had a conversation like this in all this time? I wander the jungles most often, but there have been times when we have worked together. Strange indeed."
He noticed that Mata wasn't listening. She was looking down, at the lawn, deep in thought.
She raised her eyes to him and said, "What do you think of an incarnation? I can be one among them that way."
"Have you thought about your responsibilities? Who will make sure the right amount of glaciers melt and the rivers don't overflow?"
"I could do it the way I made you. I can send a part of me to the earth. I could see what happens there."
"What about the time? Don't you think it will take the whole lifetime of that one person? Why should we wait that long? Also, the life of one person isn't going to tell you everything."
"I can send many if you insist."
"Good. But time is still a problem."
"I am a goddess, remember. Time is a good old friend of mine. She owes me a favour. We could only sit here, and if I ask, she would gladly creep by, and yet take me across ages."
"I take your word for it. But there will be rules."
"Rules? Let me hear"
"There should be a large number, and they should be random, yet spread across the land. Also, neither you nor the people should know that you are Bharat Mata until you die, we can't afford skewed outcomes where people start worshipping you."
"I know, I am diverse. There are many terrains, religions, many ways of life. I understand."
The lion sat down watching. Mata took her seat, meditating, her eyes closed. A golden glow started appearing around her, intensifying with every passing moment. The lion's eyes hurt. The air around them turned colder. A few moments later, she smiled and said, "I have given my warmth away to my world. I hope they be happy and well received."
They waited, looking down at the lawn. Not much time had passed when something like a tiny firefly approached Mata. It rested on her hand, and it looked like it assimilated into her.
"Who was it?" asked the lion.
"A businessman, my life was stressful, and I died early. I visited the Bharat Mata temple in my lifetime."
Very soon, another came in.
"I was a famous actress, but I was lonely."
Then many more began to come in.
"They cut me out from my mother's womb and burned me. My father's family did not want a girl."
Mata's face turned serious. She closed her eyes and focused on the next experience.
"A politician - loyal and happy. He could not do much."
"A doctor. I died in peace."
Her face lightened, and a slight smile appeared.
"Raped and choked to death."
"A soldier. Shot in the head."
"I did not belong to either gender. People avoided me and drove me away."
"I was a poor tenant farmer in debt. I had to commit suicide."
"I was a young girl in a poor house. They stopped my schooling and married me off."
"Persecuted for what I wore and ate"
"I was a good father."
"A happy woman and mother of three."
"A widow, I was not allowed to go out of my house."
"A thief, I didn't have a choice."
The list seemed endless. Mata had covered all the births that occurred that day.
"You were right," said Mata. "You need to be human to understand another human. Most of them grew up to be slaves—slaves to poverty, some to their family, most to their pride and greed. The rules and the constitution didn't seem to matter to a select few. The tyrant enemy has only been replaced by the rich and powerful; they still exist in the hearts and thoughts of many."
The sky had attained a glowing red, like blood that adorned her soil years ago for freedom for a lifetime. It would soon be sunrise. Mata rose ceremoniously to pay homage to the national anthem sung across the country.
"You have influenced Time to get the results. Does that mean those people, even the ones who suffered a great deal, will be living on your soil for the next years to come?" asked the lion.
"Yes," said Mata, trying hard to hold it all together.
"Will they ever know they are treating a goddess that way?"
"No, they never will."