“Bapuji, one thing I have noticed is that your name has a Midas touch. Roads named after you are doing big business. Movies made on your name are doing big business. Even people who took on your title have done big business. I am not talking of your natural pro-genies though.”
“You mean to say it is not only sadaks named after me which are doing well, sadak chhap netas and actors have also done well by being associated with my name.
“Exactly. I am surprised that you already know so much.”
“Just a wild guess. Human nature has hardly changed over last eighty thousand years. Are people only doing business using my name or are they also following any of my principles? Let us go back to the Time Machine. We will go to my ashram in Sabarmati. This machine also travels across space.”
“Bapuji, you should not go there. It will be painful for you to see your laboratory for ‘experiments with truth’ being turned into a museum, just a relic of the past instead of being a vibrant place for a thriving community of truth seekers.”
“I am not surprised. I knew it would happen. That did not stop me from following my conviction. By the way, when did India get Independence?”
“Oh, you mean from the British. It was in 1947.”
“Did I live to see it through?”
“Yes. But in 1948 …”
“I see. Seems after the Britishers left I became redundant.”
“No Bapu. You have universal relevance. Of course it was easy to unite people when the British were ruling us.”
“What you say is true. People are more united against a common enemy than for a common positive cause. Look what Hitler is doing there is Germany. Sorry, I forgot we are in 2018. “
“Must we find a common enemy to stay united?”
“Unfortunately, yes. We inherited this instinct from our the hunter gather days. But I did not want people to hate the British. My fight was all about ideas and practices, not against a person or a group of persons. I was against the wrong practices of my own country – untouchabaility, lack of self reliance, apathy towards the surroundings ….”
“That is why I say, Bapu, you are relevant for every age. These days we have two kinds of people. One group thinks everything about our tradition is great. Another group thinks, everything about this ancient Indian culture is bad. You wanted to revive the essence of this culture. For example you tried to understand the core message of Bhagavat Gita and practice it based on your understanding. At the same time you were against the wrong pratices like like discrimination based on caste.”
“That is the problem when people hold on to traditions without understanding its essence, wrong practices creep in. Even in my time there were people who would worship the book of Bhagavat Gita, do arati but never read it. I understand why my statures are everywhere. Periodically they will gather around my statue, garland it, do arati, and then forget what I said.”
“Bapuji, as Indians we are indeed very clever. It is our way of getting rid of your ideas. We did not want to read and understand Gita so we constructed Krishna temples everywhere. I am not telling this in the context of Hinduism alone. It is applicable all other religions. People are more interested in rituals and blind following without understanding the core message of any prophet and evaluating its applicability in view of the present reality and scientific truth.”
“Come, let us go to Sabaramati. I will enter the Ashram in my original get up. Tell people that I am a Gandhi lookalike.”
After parking the Time Machine and camouflaging it, we enter the Ashram. I do not have to tell that my companion is a Gandhi lookalike. The moment we enter, a few children follow us and chant, “Bapu, Bapu, Bapu.”
More and more people follow us. Someone from the crowd is heard saying, “He does not look as old as Gandhi.” We smile to each other and continue our walk till his hut. We turn to face the crowd.
I announce, “Dear friends. My companion here is not only a Gandhi lookalike he is also an expert in Gandhian studies. He has some important message for you. Please listen to him.”
We are surrounded by the swelling crowd and people jostle to take selfies with Gandhi. I again appeal to be quiet and listen a few words from the lookalike Mahatma. But no one is in a mood to listen. They continue to crowd around to take selfies till gun shots are heard in the distance.
People panic and flee. A man with a gun emerges from the crowd. After firing one more round in the air, he kneels before Gandhi. Before I realise what is happening bullets fired from his from his gun pierce Gandhiji’s heart.
I shout for help as Gadnhiji falls into my arms. He is bleeding profusely. I shout for ambulance. But there is is no one nearby. The man comes close and whispers, “There is no use . No one will come. This is India of 2018.”
“Who are you?”
“Why would you recognise me? My busts do not adorn the famous roads of India. But you must have heard my name. I am Nathuram Godse. I have come to change history. I don’t want to see Gandhi survive till 1948.”
I panic. Gandhi has come from the past. If he is dead, how can he go back in the Time machine to survive till 1948. In panic my mind freezes but I continue shouting, “Help … help … help.”
“Get up. Get up,” I hear some one shouting and feel that the ground below is shaking as if there is an earth quake.
It is my wife. “What were you blabbering in sleep?” she asks. “My God you are sweating so profusely.”
“Hey Ram. What a nightmare!” I blabber half awake as I take a sigh of relief.