With that first blow, blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. He was grappling with his herculean enemy, trying to catch one of his feet so that he could slip and fall down. He realized the failure of his vain attempt. As the sturdy, muscular man smote him with his knuckle duster, he was hard hit and lay on the floor, partly conscious, where the cloud of his bloated face towered above him, and speaking in an intimidating voice, he warned him, “Do not endanger your life for the sake of others, otherwise the ramifications will be disastrous. YOU WILL DIE.” His figure seemed to be getting disappeared in the crowd and then he was gone. A few of the passers-by saw him lying there and rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, he was saved. After seeing the identity card from his pocket, they understood that the young man’s name was Swaraj, who was a student pursuing his Masters in History. After he regained his consciousness, he only remembered the incident bleakly, but the menacing quality of his voice was unforgettable.
He was thinking of how corrupt the world was, where he lived. Atrocities like killing, maiming, raping and looting were widespread, degeneracy had spread its tentacles, wreaking havoc on the lives of people who only expressed themselves in hushed voices and never gathered the courage to speak loud and clear. Those who dared to do so faced the same destiny as he did. “Why can’t we subvert and overthrow the wicked tyrant who has ruined the life chances of the citizens, manipulating them like puppets?” His thoughts wandered out. Out of the hospital window, he could see the sun shining brightly, but the future of the citizens who inhabited the land was not very radiant.
After a few days, he was discharged from the hospital. He went back to his apartment, a nicely furnished room, tiled with black marble, where he stayed alone. His parents lived in a different place and Swaraj had come there, two years ago, to complete his education. He was feeling deeply unsettled with the situation that existed, wanting to bring a change at any cost. He murmured to himself, “The rule has sustained itself for such a long time, as the people cooperated with it, being voiceless on the face of such grinding power. If people didn’t stoop to such authority, the tyrannical power would be dismantled.” For Swaraj, as the name itself suggests, freedom meant to get rid of the alien powers who forced the citizens to conform to their rules or crushed them, if they disobeyed. He took a deep sigh, and unable to think any further about this complex chain, went to sleep.
These were his last few months in college, and very soon he would intern as a teacher, who would inculcate the ideas of conviction and reform to the young minds, as he believed in teaching for a purpose, and the purpose was to create individuals, who could mould themselves in a disciplined way with independent thinking. Finally, the day arrived. Swaraj was filled with high expectations, his mind rising to the opportunity which will open the doors of success for him. He entered into the office, wearing a blue shirt with neatly ironed black trousers, which added to his charm. The officials started questioning him on topics related to various time periods of history, ranging from Mesolithic period to the rise of Mauryans in c.321 BC, from Bernier to Gandhi. At a decisive juncture, one of the officers questioned him, “So, Mr.Swaraj, what do you plan to achieve once you get employed?” He stated with a firm voice, “Transformation! There are lots of young people who do not know the actual meaning of freedom. Freedom should not merely mean economic stability, but the power to take individual decisions…freedom from the restrictions of foreign power...From the megalomaniac despot... From the thirsty elites who relish the taste of money...I want them to rejuvenate the essence of their own lives, where they are not guided by ticking watches and moving lens of cameras, but by the passion which captivates them to explore…To topple the rule…brutality..Insanity…To resist tyranny…I am fed up sir...Fed up... I want a legion of youths who can unite by a single notion… and that notion is CHANGE, Sir”…Ha! He realized that he had spoken too much. He paused to breathe. “Thank you, Mr. Swaraj! We’ll let you know in an hour.”
Swaraj was sitting outside, constantly crossing and uncrossing his legs, nervously looking around. He was tensed but curious at the same time. An hour seemed to pass at a snail’s pace. Finally, the moment arrived. A tall person with a lean stature walked out of the room with a broad smile, carrying his file. It was quite visible that he was selected for the job. Swaraj was utterly disappointed. As soon as the man came out, Swaraj saw him speaking on his phone with someone, and he could hear his voice clearly. He was thanking the person on the other side for recommending him for the job. Moreover, after the officers approached him, the lean figured man was eulogizing them deeply with his flattering words, elevating their sense of knowledge and reasoning. He also bribed them with a considerable amount. This made Swaraj’s heart heavy with words. He wanted to scream with exasperation and vent out his anger through his words, but he refrained from doing so. He muttered to himself, “How foolish I am! Why did I even voice those notions of freedom in a world filled with officers who are disgustingly venal and avaricious for money? They were no different. After all, they were also the products of the same tyrant who had shaped his citizens, the way he wanted.” Nepotism was taking roots everywhere out of which a complete tree, laden with the poisonous fruits of self-interest was standing upright. Its pernicious impact degraded the young individuals who believed in clinging to the coats of authority to gain recognition, losing their self-identity as a person, and transformed to sycophants.
Swaraj started walking on the street unable to handle the incident which he had just encountered. He caught the glimpse of the roadside loafers who threw a lascivious look on the girls passing by, and brushed past them deliberately, passing vulgar remarks, to which the girls stayed quiet, in order to prevent further embarrassment. He felt as if his strings of inner peace had broken, mangled by the moral deterioration which was evidently getting worse. A chain of ideas started attacking him. A…An…Ana...Anar…Anarchy prevailed where the sadistic despot controlled every aspect of human existence, even the actions of his subjects, imposing heavy taxes on the underprivileged, where they had to pay 5% of their total savings, which rendered them penniless. The rich class was exempted from paying such exorbitant taxes. Their blood was sucked out of their body and the bones were gradually being crushed. Parents fretted about their kids going to school, as they believed that even the slightest conflict would lead to their children being the victims of such horrors.
As Swaraj was stuck in these thoughts, he could see the soldiers engaged in their duty sincerely. A person’s everyday activities, be it talking aloud in the public, or making eye contacts with each other that would arouse suspicion of a conspiracy against the despot, be it sharing secrets to your loved ones in a café, or making a call from the phone booth, were closely watched with the cameras fixed on strategic positions and the soldiers were also hired for this task. A slightest act of protest was suppressed by soldiers who massacred hundreds of people without any compunction. Swaraj caught a glimpse of a stout looking soldier, and to his surprise he was already looking at him with his eyes, so penetrating. He, with a coarse voice shouted, “Get out of the way, you simpleton. I hope you do not want me to knock you down again, if you know what I mean.” He was in shock. He dared to ask, “How do you know that I was injured?” The soldier replied, “He was one of our members, you little wacko! Now march ahead.”
It was a sunny day with birds flying all around looking for water. Beads of perspiration were noticeable on people’s faces who were rushing for their jobs. It was a fast paced world, indeed, where each person tried as hard as possible to save their jobs, not wanting to get fired. The hope of water seemed to be a mirage, and corresponded itself to the way the society, where he lived, presented itself as a perfect idyll of contentment, but was a mere illusion, hollow from inside. Swaraj was coming back after finishing his classes when on the way, a small school boy, presumably of nine or ten years, was being bullied by three ruffians who were demanding some money. One of them was also threatening to hit him. He couldn’t control his seething indignation. He went there quickly, and punched them on their faces, asking the child to leave the space immediately. For the child, he was a saviour with an unseen cape who rescued him from the rogues. One of the rogues shouted, “How dare you, you arrogant swine?” Swaraj replied, “If you really want to show your machismo, use it to serve the nation.” He did not know that this unpremeditated fight with them, would take him to the hospital when, on the next day, he was hit by one of the soldiers.
Swaraj was never able to take proper food as many of the household commodities were not available in the official market, and as a result, traders hoarded them surreptitiously and sold it in higher prices to local customers, who did not have any choice, but to buy them. People were bound by the collective fear of Power, where they had no other option left; it was either to accept or to get squeezed under the burden of a road roller operated by the oppressor. The citizens were unaware of the doomsday which was going to befall them very soon. To create awe and terror in the minds of people, to impose the supremacy of the Despot, the general prices of goods started rising, the individuals were being paid a low remuneration, while the taxes increased in percentage. The institutions started recruiting rich candidates and the eligible young people from middle class backgrounds who walked into the offices with their academic credentials were not appointed for the designated positions. This further widened the economic chasm between rich and poor. Poor people, who lived in horrible cramped houses, with the roofs covered with tarpaulin, became more isolated as they experienced the outbreak of plague, increasing the risk of contagion. The infection spread, as the area was filthy and unclean. There were open sewers overflowing with waste matters which became the hub of mosquitoes for breeding. There was a lack of personal hygiene. Moreover, the elite businessmen enjoyed a luxurious life in their well-constructed enclaves which represented the sign of authority.
Finally, the signs of a rebellion were in the air. Protestors started to engage in street protests as an act of resisting the restrictions of the authority. Swaraj actively participated in the demonstrations. He also composed a protest song which voiced the issues of injustice and violence against its citizens. The citizens also engaged themselves in sit-ins, where they settled down in front of the enclaves demanding for rights. At the night-time, the walls were painted with graffiti, defacing the buildings and lambasting the activities of the fraudulent system. Posters, banners and placards were distributed to announce the rise of a rebellion. The citizens blocked the movement of vehicles by roaring on the roads with the slogan of “CHANGE.” Swaraj considered it incumbent on him to join his fellow citizens, to work towards grinding the oppressor’s bones to dust. They all worked with companionship, cheering aloud with majesty, “We will see the light of the day.” Swaraj was elated to find the people excessively agitated, ready to rip the flesh of the Despot, whose so-called blood of royalty will exorcise the area and its diabolical atmosphere. The citizens were anticipating the day of the Tyrant’s departure. They protested all day long, but there was no languor, suffocation or distress, but the admirable quality of simplicity and passion to win the war of Justice, which was for so long denied to them.
On that day, the market place was severely crowded, and the people woven together like black pearls forming a tapestry of zigzag patterns, jubilant and excited, stepping on each other’s toes. Everyone shared the same vitality in their veins, which seemed to get transferred, while brushing past one another. The restaurants were filled, with people standing in queues and waiting for their turns, for a meal or two to beat the pangs of hunger. Swaraj felt claustrophobic, as among the cacophony of sounds, a voice was constantly following him. He could sense the danger of a hidden enemy ready to attack him. Suddenly, the voice called out, “Swaraj.” As he turned back, he saw the pack of disdainful assassins with their satanic smiles, carrying iron rods and chains. The masked men also had guns. Swaraj, laboring through the crowd, started running at a very face pace until he was completely out of breath. The assassins stood there laughing loudly and one of them remarked, “You lion- hearted wretch! You were warned, weren’t you my boy?” Swaraj stood there gasping for breath, looking with the utmost detestation. The man in black started speaking, his voice being too thick, “Ready to get shot?” He fixed the gun on the target adeptly, but then his voice echoed, “You were told not to transcend the boundaries which we had set, but unfortunately, you proved that you are an adamant brat. Now let me tell you our method of retaliation, which is too appalling, I must say.” “You beasts are here just to eradicate our collective power of protesting. You would not be successful”, shouted Swaraj. The man replied, “Shush! The whole market is sitting on a ticking time bomb. We can’t let you win. It’s time to say Goodbye.” Swaraj was startled and as he rushed towards the market, a monstrous bullet hit his backbone, making him hollow from inside. It was not painful for him but the burden of ignominy was dawning upon him. And three…two…one... BOOOOMMMM, the market exploded, wrecked into pieces.
All of a sudden, he experienced a sudden jerk, his body wet with perspiration. It was 3.30 A.M. and the sun was still in a deep slumber. He muttered, “It was so real… so genuine.” The reality seemed to be more obscure and hazy for him as compared to the dream which was so refined and sharp. He said, “Thank God! It was just dream. Such a world does not exist. REALLY?