I am at the Kala Ghoda festival. The sun is just setting. A whole lot of ‘post its’ and small chits on a make shift wall stand out. From a distance, my wandering eyes rest on them for a minute. A few feet shuffles later, i mingle into a a crowd swarm just outside this stall. ‘Letters to Pakistan’.
Messages intended for Pakistan. For who in Pakistan, is not known. But headed in that geographic direction. Hand written scrawls to meticulously crafted chits, they are all there. They catch the breeze and flutter. The chits seem to battle for freedom. The glue continues to beat the breeze by holding on to the chits.
In this melee, messages catch the eye.
‘We will kill you’
‘When i become President of India, the first task in my mind i will distroy Pakistan’
‘A failed state like Pakistan is a state of loosers. India rocks’.
And so on. A sigh escapes my lips. So much hate. In young and old alike. My fresh eyes & tired soul search for messages of peace. Outnumbered, they sure are. But present.
‘War doesn’t determine what is right. It only determines what is left’ says one
‘War is expensive. Peace is priceless’.
‘Lets fight terrorism together’.
And so on. I read on. Searching. Browsing. Smiling. Hoping. Wondering.
Two young girls are reading with interest too. Animated chatter pervades. Between them. They read. Comment. Giggle. Make strange expressions that seem to be extensions of shrugs and something else.
They look up. Read. “Arms are for hugging. Make love. Not War’. They read that aloud. Again. In unison. Roll their eyes. One tells another, ‘get real guys’. The other giggles.
‘Get Real ?’ I wonder. I feel like a dust ridden statue in a museum attic. Especially so trying to map out youngster speak. ‘Get Real!’ That was some expression.
In sometime they are gone. Their conversations peppered with ‘Get Real’ many more times!
‘Would you want to write sir !?’ I hear another young girl ask me. Giving me a pen and a small chit of paper. She mans this stall.
‘Sure’. I say.
Steadying my hand is an effort, as the words flow into paper. I write : “We were separated at birth. Must we stay that way?”. I want to write more. Thinking of Hindi films where reunions of lost brothers happens in village festivals.
An echo from a recent memory rides high in my ear. ‘Get Real’ And that girly giggle. I stop. I contemplate. Should i hand over what i wrote ? I wonder how many more would laugh at what i have written.
Our history lessons are distorted. The media accentuates problems. Less said of politicians on both sides the better. Our armies bristle with aggression. War suddenly seems to be a video game and terrorists are characters that run on code. Toy guns or otherwise, children grow up with hate. And of course, poverty continues to soar and scores die and suffer.
I hear people dismissing what i wrote. But suddenly it doesn’t matter. I tell myself, ‘get real’. And hand the paper over to this girl who mans the stall. She promises to stick it somewhere.
I walk away. ‘Get Real’ stays in my mind.