Chapter 17: The Madman

Mostly, the old people come to this day centre. Where else they go?  They come here when they feel fed up, lonesome or dissatisfied with their domestic life. They share their views while being here and exchange their sorrows and pleasures with each other, and have tea and snacks together.
When Bishna enters the room, someone from the group, while playing cards says,” look Bishna has also come! When, I was in India, comrade Bishan Singh used to perform plays during election campaigns, going from one village to another. In those days, it was the way of electioneering.”
“What made him mad?” the person next to him, wants to know.
“There is nothing wrong with him. He is lot wiser than we people are. You must know from the history that fools had been calling the wise as mad from centuries,” the earlier person tries to tell the other one.
“But last week, somebody was telling that some sort of mental disorder had appeared with his old age. He can not even remember his own name.  He laughs, instead of being angry, even when somebody taunts him,” the man wearing a cap, seems eager to know the fact.
The earlier man laughs a little and then tells,” he would laugh at the moment when somebody talks about something superstitious. And perhaps, gets angry when the person appears somewhat literate and educated!”
“Let us move over there where Bishan Singh is sitting. They seem to be engaged in heated arguments,” the earlier one suggests.

 One of the two persons sitting near Bishan Singh in a way of giving suggestion, and the other one  as if  giving warning, are trying to make Bishen Singh understand something.
“What happened? Why you become so angry?” the man wearing a cap, begins to ask while sitting closely.
“What can be happened, they were discussing about the sage from India, whose film we watched on Sunday, that millions of his followers could not be crazy. The sage must be having some sort of special spiritual powers!” the person sitting next to Bishen Singh explains.
“On this only, Bishen Singh urged them not to regard a person of the age of your grand son, as a spiritual sage! And Jagar Singh got angry, over that only.”
“Why to get annoyed at the person who is an old fool?” the man sitting near Jaggar Singh, could not help teasing.
“I was considered a very wise man; when you people used to applaud on my dramas. At that time, you people had only a piece of cotton cloth around your loins. Now, you have started wearing trousers, having pounds in its pockets. And that is enough for you to become wise. As the saying goes that money makes a fool to become wise.” Bishen Singh quipped.
“Friends, we have moved away from the real topic. We were talking about the sage from India,” one of them tries to alert them.
“However, one thing is clear, that the sage being so young should not get his feet touched, from the people of the ages of his grand-parents.”
“Friends, he does not come to your homes, to ask you to touch his feet! You people go to him on your own to fell flat on his feet, with your families too. The feet of your parents living at your homes, appear hoofs of an animals to you, whereas, you consider the feet of this robust goon as holy ones!” one of the friends of Bishan Singh, gives vent to his fury.
“But, faith is also something. Only yesterday, it was being discussed on Astha Channal that faith has some powers.”
“But you are taking blind-faith as faith,” the person wearing the cap, replies.
“If there is no crowd having blind-faith, then, how could these hypocrite sages come-up?”
“But how the whole congregation could be insane!” one of them sitting in a corner expresses his surprise, while scratching his beard.
“For God’s sake, do not call such a crowd as holy congregation. Let us call them a crowd or something else! There are some good souls in the holy congregation, at least. But, the gatherings at the pilgrimages or at other similar places are mostly of the superstitious people or you may simply call it a crowd of followers without sight. This crowd can make anybody anything; a leader, a religious teacher or a sage! I do not have any grudge against the illiterate and ignorant people like me, I just pity on them. I have grudge against only those, who being educated and literate and still join these crowds.” Bishen Singh doesn’t want to get his life-long experience of logical views hurt. Everybody has his own truth until the ultimate truth is revealed.
In the meantime, a man with a very powerful personality, starts shuffling through the pages of a Punjabi paper lying on the table. Different voices emerge one by one.

“Mr. Sanghera, tell us also something? Is there any important news from India?  What about the elections there? Who is losing and who is winning? Will your favorite is likely to become a minister again or not?
“Well! Last night, a friend of mine from India called me up. All the people from his constituency are in his favor. Do not know anything about the other areas, but he will certainly win,” Mr. Sanghera said while pushing his specs up from his nose with his right hand finger.
“Mr. Sanghera, nobody can predict the crowd? It can make anybody win or lose! And then, it will dance over the victory of the winner as if it has got something for itself! They do not bother to care while firing the crackers to express their happiness, not caring that it would cause to become difficult for others around to breath, due to the pollution created by the crackers.  Same happens on Diwali and during other festivals, whether it is India or England. I must say that people of this country are nice, who always tolerate our negative actions with cool mind associated with our festivals and rituals. It’s a sorry state of things that such people, living in this scientific age, have become habitual to see miracles of medieval ages. They tend to move towards their past, instead of their future, from their present,” evidently Bishen Singh’s own thought have an effect on his discussion.
“Well, the people here in England, also fire crackers on the Guy Fox Day. And we have our own history and heritage. Why should we afraid of?” A young man tries to express his views.
“My son, to know about the history is a different thing, but to be tied with it, is entirely a different matter and dangerous as well. Those who tend to be tied with the history can never look forward. Such people will never go beyond the incidents happened during British Raj, while living and enjoying life in England. To wail upon the past, is like digging out the old graves. History is not to repeat rather we should learn the lesson from it.”
“Bishen Singh also can not help being silent, the same discussion all the time,” someone says.
“Nobody can do anything about the man who is insane?” another voice roared.

 “There should also be the enjoyment in life. Be hail and sportive. Everyone, whether black, brown or fair is equal here; this is an open and free country. Then, why should we afraid of celebrating our own festivals?” a man of forty plus age, raises his voice in a challenging way.
“Listen, you brave young man, it is not a matter of being afraid, but, being ill-mannered and discourteous to others. Whether anyone is black, brown or white, there is no question of race and color. Your own entertainment and enjoyment should not disturb peace in your neighborhood. We poor old fools are not much concerned as we aren’t going to live for long. It’s you and your children, and now this country is your country. If you will live with love, peace, brotherhood and mutual understanding, your relations within this cohesive society will be friendly and peaceful. Brotherhood and peace depends only on these things! One must realize the consequences of anti-social behavior.”
“Well, now please stop this. Why are you speaking this nonsense?” someone interrupts him.
“What, this we are discussing the issue of equal rights. If we do a self-analysis of our own homes, we shall come to know that how much freedom and equality we are allowing to our women folks? There is no social equality in our society. Our society is based on cast and class system back home, and still here in UK” a man sitting next to the fellow with a cap, expresses his views like a question.
“Let us not discuss the matter any further. I have got a view related to the main issue. One of the MPs’ of this country calls these ‘people’ as the ‘real people’ to whom Bishen Singh addresses as a crowd. This crowd must have some value at least!” the person wearing cap, addresses Bishen Singh in an inquisitive manner.
“First of all, let me talk about the crowd in India. It can proclaim the saline water of sea as sweet. It can give testimony to that the statue of a stone can drink milk. Such crowd has no eyes of its own. It is conditioned to see with the eyes of the exploiters. Such people can see the miracle but, poor-fellows can not do it themselves! They also see the ghosts and spirits, thus wander after the places of such occultist-sages.  Such a crowd is always very dangerous. They are valuable only for those few hypocrites and deceitful   who can successfully manipulate them,” saying this he runs his speculative vision on some special faces and then, raises his right hand finger as if erecting a pistol at them and again, starts speaking in a serious tone.
 “This crowd acts as a ladder for many sages, leaders, and knights and ministers to reach the sky of success, were that these leaders may spare time to think for the rights and facilities of this crowd! Better if this crowd gets the right direction. This right direction is always like a cozy sunshine of winter and contrary to it, the crowd fumbling in the darkness, turns into a killer- typhoon in the end. Such a blind crowd’s blind vision can see God in statues, but never ever in humans!” Bishen Singh appears struggling in putting forth his point completely.

From outside, someone enters with full enthusiasm and curiosity, expecting to attract the attention of everybody and says,” Yeah, here is one film. It is worth-seeing. My nephew’s friend has been to the North Pole. It is quite interesting and inspiring.

All of us start watching film by moving the direction of our chairs towards the television. On seeing the snow all around, one incident comes to my mind.  Once inadvertently, we entered in a country lane from motor way. It was snowing heavily. We lost hope when our car got stuck in the snow, at a remote place. Meanwhile, we saw some sort of light coming towards us. When it came near to us, we found it was a police car. We were filled with hope and it gave us a new lease of life seeing the police. At that time, my wife said,” let us assume that similarly, if we have got caught up somewhere in India and police came on the scene, it would have surly fleeced as well as humiliated us.”

My eyes again go towards the film running on the TV. The golden-brown polar dogs are pulling the sleigh. There is only snow all around and far off.  The polar dogs with their hard work and struggle take the sleigh to its destination. All the four persons with a feeling of a victory were jumping with their arms up, like victors.
Bishan Singh could not help it and said,” you tell me first, who is the winner? Those dogs or men!  None of them has honored the victory of the Dogs! They are jumping over their own victory only. And the cameraman, too, is shooting the humans only. Even the people in the race courses are far better and more honest as they always say bravo to the horse, not to the jockey!  Likewise, politicians are declared winners while riding on the people’s horse. The people or the voters are merely a ‘horse’ for them,” after saying this, Bishen Singh laughed loudly with a guffaw.
“Friends, you people say he is not mad but observing his behavior ….” someone from the gathering said.
“He must have some sort of deranged brain,” another voice endorsed the first one.
 All those voices were clearly audible to Bishen Singh.
“You nice fellows, if there were no derangement in my mind, why should I be a part of your company?  The sage always wanted to live among Sages, and the thief among the thieves.” He starts laughing while clapping his one hand on the other.
“However the dogs are very loyal. Yet, these bastards do not recognize the family relations.  But, it is equally true for some humans as well! They also want to bite each other on these petty issues,” this time all people accompanied Bishen Singh in his laughter.
“You see! Have not I told you earlier? .He just begins talking nonsense while saying something sensible. There must be something wrong with him! Now he has been talking about dogs only!” someone sitting behind expresses himself surprisingly
”Hail the Bullah, the great poet, who has rightly said that dogs have won the battle,” he stands up, while seeing the person sitting behind him.
Lot many eyes were looking at him as if he is really a mad! A deep mystery was in his eyes and an impish smile was playing on his lips.
“Are you going?” the man wearing a cap, asked Bishen Singh.
“Yeah!” saying this, he moves towards the outside door.
After stopping for a while, he looks back and says loudly with an obscure smile,” Is it me or you?” Leaving a question mark in their eyes, he stares at some faces and guffaw, “This time, let it be me, me, an old fool!” And he starts walking out.   

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