Happy Gandhi Jayanti

I was waylaid the other day. In the tiny lift in The Happyman’s Cooperative Housing Society, Blocks A and B. The perpetrator of this offence was none other than the little thug, Krish. Better known for his record in blackmailing senior citizens for favours and kidnapping their pets for a lark. I eyed the skateboard in his hand ominously, while he fished out a paper from his pocket. It was a note from the principal of Meroobhai Bambani International School of Eminence. It was addressed to its students, asking them to write an essay on “Two Gandhian principles children should follow on Gandhi Jayanti”.

No sooner had I finished reading it, I found myself surrounded by an entire gang of kids from Meroobhai Bambani International School of Eminence – standing left to right – Farhan, brandishing a hockey stick, Meenu, with a hairbrush that seemed to have multiple uses, Happy, with a “forever hungry” look, Bittu, always seeking enlightenment, the righteous Jeejee and Sunny, with the mischievous twinkle. They looked like they meant business. Sarla Bhen, the neighbor, whose kitchen was filled with assorted consumables “borrowed” from the other neighbors, peeked out of her window and explained their predicament, “They don’t know much about Gandhi. Please help them. We are coming to your house. I need a quarter litre of milk, as some unexpected guests are coming for tea.”

Talk about unexpected guests! I was in a fix. My only memory of Gandhi was his face on the money we use daily. Bittu was the first to turn up. He looked like he had found what he needed. “I am going to become bald and wear spectacles. These are the two Gandhian things I will follow”.

Waving her hairbrush, Meenu said with precision, “I will always speak the truth and will also say Hey Ram after everything I speak. My first truth is that Bittu will look silly with spectacles and a head that does not need a hairbrush. Hey Ram!”

Polite to a fault, Bittu gently reminded her, “Who says Hey Ram? That’s not correct. Its Jai Shri Ram. My Papa says that whenever he is shouting at the TV and when he is ordering us to do something.”

Happy had turned up with remnants of some cream and cheese on his face, undoubtedly feasting on the goodies “borrowed” by Sarla Bhen. “Yummy cheese pakoras! I have decided to become a vegetarian like Gandhiji and Sarla Aunty. She has promised to give me Rose Sherbet ice cream too every day. Please don’t tell my Mummy. She thinks I am getting too fat!”

On cue, Meenu chortled, “Happy, you are fat. Jai Shri Ram!”

Jeejee, always ready to jump in to save an underdog, decided to make her presence felt. “I think we should all walk a lot every day. Bittu can then become thin and can eat as many ice creams as he wants. My mama says Gandhiji walked a lot. One day he walked on and on and went to a beach and ate some salt. I will also walk and walk and then eat bhel puri at the beach. I love bhel puri so much. I will also keep my study table and bed clean. Gandhiji said we must all remain clean. Krish, you too”

The suave and quick witted Krish was ready. “I am dark, but not dirty. I will talk and write. Gandhiji talked and talked to people. And then he wrote and wrote. Till everybody listened. You all will also listen to me. I will be your leader and make sure that Uncle Happymon allows us to play at night”.

A loud roar of approval followed. Mr. Happymon Esthapan Chacko was the General Secretary of The Happyman’s Cooperative Housing Society, Blocks A and B. He was a sucker for rules. One of which, Rule 3 section A sub section iii, said that “Nobody other than a resident of voting age, or a guest of a resident, should be visible in the compound after 9 pm. Failure to comply will be met with dire consequences”. This would be an interesting battle, though my loyalties were divided, as I was engaged in the services of Mr. H E Chacko.

“What will Farhan and Sunny do?”, asked Jeejee, concerned that her friends were getting left out.

Said the new leader of the young masses, “Farhan and Sunny will go to a village and live there. Gandhiji said we must be simple. And we must lead simple lives in the villages. Farhan and Sunny will do that. If Farhan is caught by bad people for eating beef, then Sunny will be there to save him. If the bad people don’t listen, we will all go and do a satyagraha!”

A thunderous “Jai Shri Ram” could be heard across The Happyman’s Cooperative Housing Society, Blocks A and B.

Chandru Chawla is a freelance writer and satirist who writes at night to keep his insanity intact.

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