Some time back while flipping through the pages of a poetry book titled 'Figments of Imagination', I chanced to read W.H.Auden's 'September 1939', which is a moving yet shocking revelation of the feelings of Americans of the uncertainties of the future before the Second World War, the time when Hitler attacked Poland in a Blitzkrieg operation.
As I was ruminating about the atrocities of Hitler and his troubled childhood, having done some research on his background, my mind inadvertently began to hover around him. Simultaneously , I also thought , about our own Gandhi. The two were entirely contrasting personalities- the former, ruthlessly violent, barbaric and heinous; while the other resilient, meek and non-violent. The two had never met during their lifetimes.
The reason why I thought of the two historic yet contradictory figures, deserves some explanation .
I was actually reminded of my adolescent period when a group of three of us, [ popurlarly known as ' The Three Daredevil Musketeers' ], felt a strange urge to talk to spirits. YES SPIRITS! We were in the tenth standard and had fared miserably in History and Geography in the second terminal examinations. We were looking for some good guides. And what better guide than the spirits -who- know-all, thought we !
They and only they could give us redemption, we thought again.
Our next hurdle was , which spirit to call. After a long session of polemic arguments and disputation we zeroed in to two figures: Hitler and Gandhi. the reasons for the choice was this: both were historical figures, so both could throw light on each's geography too !!! " But why on the blasted earth Hitler and Gandhi?" exclaimed some exasperated one. " And why not?" Tempers , by now were fairly high- strung. "See , their nature is like oil and water- unmixable. So when you ask a question and when one answers wrong, the other will automatically or invariably counter him. So either way their is no chance for us to be screwed." I suggested, quite happy at my innovative ingenuity !
After the frayed tempers had been cooled at large, we then sorted out the basic questions - the questions that needed to be asked to our V.I.S.
[ S for spirits].
A day was chosen. A dark moonless day, at my own house, my own room . Here the three of us sat piously around a table. The fourth chair was unoccupied. We now wished ,"We would'nt really have minded to be called 'THE AWSOME FOURSOME' " with a fourth friend.
Incence sticks were lighted, prayers were chanted, invocations were made.
Then the spirits were summoned.
As they began their downward journey towards the earth from their extra- terrestrial abode, it was Gandhi who broke the ice . As usual, he had no qualms in setting the ball rolling.
"Hey Hitler, " were his first words now. His last words were ,"Hey Ram". How death changes people !
" And is not this our innocuous, irreproachable Gandhi, from India?"
"Namaste, Hitler saab.Thanks for remembering me. You see I am forcefully remembered in my country , through relics, 'samadhi-sthal', edicts, currency notes, memorials, movies and the like. By the way, Charlie's take on you in the movie , 'The Great Dictator' was also superb. We great men are drilled into the minds of the common , uninterested people. No wonder then that death becomes us. How are you? "
"I was fine, till some time back. But you see these mortals, they will not let you be in peace."
"Ha, peace ! Who's talking of peace? The man who killed the very word 'peace' along with millions of people in his lifetime, talks of peace post death. No wonder death changes people !"
Hitler was uncannily silent. Was it the lull before the storm?
In fact, the whole atmosphere around us was drowned in a pall of utter silence. I even sensed an icy cold aura pervading over us. Yes, our guests had arrived. I became sure because the coin beneath my right index finger had begun to quiver. Before I could realise it , the coin began to move violently as an unseen power began to control both my finger and the discoid metal.
I perceived that my other two valiant partners were shaking too ! We forgot all our rehearsed questions. I only managed to ask, " How do you do?" While Hitler and Gandhi reigned, History and Geography were forgotton subjects. Along with these two vexing subjects many other things faded into oblivion- our senses !
I next found myself under curious, peeping people two of whom I slowly recollected as my mother and my father. Of course, neither had smiles on their faces !
My two other friends, I wisely gathered, had regained their senses much before I did !!!