Hindi is a very rich language. Words related to the central functions of life have an array of synonyms for them, available for the users to choose from. There are many synonyms of “the sun” viz. dinesh, dinkar, divakar, surya, suraj, prabhakar, aditya, bhaskar, ravi etc. Bhanu is another synonym for the sun. His grandfather had given his name, with a wish that his grandson’s name would shine like the sun in the firmament. He was not at Lanka that morning, otherwise, he would have witnessed his flaming sun burning his name on the plate of time. Yes, within fifteen minutes Bhanu was to become the most famous man among those in the past seven generations of his family.
He was expected to deliver a speech that would rouse even sleeping stones into a viral pitch of activity. It was not the first time he was expected to speak in front of an audience of hundreds of eyes and ears. He’d been a regular in school assemblies. Yet, he could not get complete command over his faculties. His limbs went limp and he felt like throwing up. He made a sign with his left hand to his friends, the sign that asked them to wait. At that moment of novelty, that moment of anxiety, he could identify with his hero, the one character he liked in the play he was forced go through in his class twelve: Mark Antony. He felt like he was being asked to speak in front of an audience not at all concerned with what happened to him in the end. For them, he was a spectacle, and they had come to watch some human form in flames.
He remembered the three human forms in flame that he had seen burning on the day of Ravan Wadh, year after year, and the excitement on the face of people just before Lord Ram’s aiming his burning arrow. He could see a similar twinkle in the eyes of those waiting for an even more exciting view. Oh, how much he abhorred them! He wanted to turn back, to flee, but his so called friends stood right behind him, blocking all exit routes. No, there was no way back, and there was definitely no way out. The image of blood soaked shirt at the tattered back of the dullah in the procession of Muharram, kept flashing before his mind’s eyes: blood streaming, people screaming and the centre of all attention and cruelty: totally numb.
A speech they wanted. A speech they expected. A speech they’d get. He stood up and opened his mouth. Cheers, deafening sounds of clapping and whistles, wouldn’t let him speak. He opened his mouth again, not to speak this time but to breathe in as much of oxygen as he could. He needed it to clear his mind. Silence of the tense, expecting kind returned and filled the atmosphere. He knew it was his time to speak. He looked at his audience and spoke:
Brothers and sisters, my comrades, we have come here today to send a message to the people in the government. They have done injustice. They have played with our lives and future brothers and sisters. They say that reservation of seats in education and jobs is positive discrimination necessary for providing equal opportunities to all sections of the society. But they do just the opposite by snatching away all opportunities from another large section. You know how they have been repressing all the voices against them. You know that they will try to do the same today. We are physically and numerically superior to them, but we will remain non-violent.
We need to speak loudly today, for they are deaf. We need fires to blaze forth and make light enough for them to see, for they are blind too. And that’s what we’ll do. I have heard that they used to sacrifice human beings in the yajnas in the past. Well, Rajiv Bhai has offered his body to the fire of the yajna against the unjust system, and I will do the same today. Friends, … (Thunderous claps for full two minutes)…Friends, we need to bear it in mind that I am neither the first, nor will be the last sacrifice. I can see many standing among you who will come forward tomorrow, and the fire of the resistance will be kept alive.
With Bhanu stood Deen Dayal, and behind them were several other students who looked, well, nondescript. There was only one who held Bhaal’s attention for more than fifteen seconds. He was wearing black kurta and jeans, and was restless all the time the speech was going on. Then he vanished and was not seen until the arrival of Vishwa Mohan Dubey, the most popular leader of the student’s union. They had been waiting for his arrival. He was the ferocious and notorious President of their union and used to micro-control all student activities in the university. He could simply not allow Bhanu to take the centre stage and was about to launch into his two page script when, through the corner of his eyes, he caught the form of Anish slipping away.
One moment later, his quick mind had already analysed that he had to expedite the things otherwise the whole programme would fail. Anish was notorious for vanishing on the first scent of the Police. He was wanted in three cases of 307 and one of 302 and although he was roaming freely, he was absconding at that time, according to law. The police would be there any given moment. Vim had to forgo his speech and announce that their brother Bhanu was about to make history that day. Vim’s two sturdy friends and two canisters of petrol were in his jeep. On his cue, they brought the cans and emptied the contents over Bhanu.
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