Yes indeed, I met Gandhi a few days back. No, not the one who just wants to be left alone by his political friends. Neither any of the hundreds who go around with the Gandhi surname dangled around their existence. I met the real Gandhi. The one we all know as Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi. No, I did not meet him in a dream… though he did run his knobby fingers through the hair on my head while we relaxed on my bed which made me terribly drowsy and when I woke up the next morning he was gone. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Gandhi isn’t at all the Gandhi we read about. This fellow was wearing Brunello Cucinelli slip-ons and seeing me look so surprised, Gandhi said, ‘My first love were the red Sorrento sneakers from Dolce & Gabbana but Jinnah reached them first at the Harrods@Heaven sale.’ Then, as if to save himself from more questioning glances, he added, ‘These are my all-time favourite Thom Browne sweatshorts.’ This Gandhi had a gold-embroidered white linen short scarf knotted nicely around his neck, a long teak-wood stick, and glasses that were clearly from Chopard.

‘So how’s it up there, casanova?’ I asked, ‘I mean, life with the 72 virgins, Menakas, angels, fairies and all the others?’

Gandhi laughed and said, ‘If there is any heaven it is up there.’ He paused for a couple of seconds, looked around and then whispered, ‘And if there is any hell, it is up there. Just like it is here.’

‘Together?’ I asked, ‘But that’s impossible. Hell inside heaven?’

Gandhi told me that even up there the Gods were still Gods because there they were the rulers. ‘Sort of landlords with their own parliament,’ he added, ‘and we are all like what we always have been – the electorate, the voter, the worker, the earner, the doers, the one who pays for his stay with a vote.’

I didn’t know how to respond to this but managed a limp, ‘Sounds great!’ Then I hurriedly asked, ‘Is there any place you’d want to visit now that you are here?’

‘No point in moving out in this hot weather,’ Gandhi replied, ‘unless you drive me around in a luxury car.’

‘You wouldn’t want to sit in a Swift Dzire,’ I mumbled, and Gandhi pretended he hadn’t heard but suddenly turned towards me and conspiratorially whispered, ‘We have super gadgets up there. You see you guys are upbeat about 5G here and we have always been an alphabet ahead. We have 1000H. Don’t ask me what that means because all I know is that I just need to wave my little finger and wish and I can see and hear anything that has or is happening anywhere in the universe.’

This sounded exciting and there were a million things that I wanted to ask but didn’t as I could see that Gandhi was now in the right mood to talk and reveal all the secrets from up there. He winked and said, ‘I’ve seen your Modi with nothing on. And Trump doing everything unimaginable is a big hit up there. Ah! The joys of tech toys that the Gods throw at us after every voting session! Jawahar once told me that had this been there in the forties, the fate of India would have been different.’

Gandhi then suddenly turned towards me and asked, ‘Do you have any books in your home?’

‘Yes,’ I said, and we went into my study where the first one that he noticed was his own autobiography and he tapped the back of my head with his stick, ‘You guys still read this? Come on, this is where the world where I come from is vastly different.’

‘Really? How?’

‘For instance, when I wrote about nobody hurting me without my permission, I was naïve. Gods do not need any permission, you see. They want all jobs to be done and they use all means to get it done. There is no scope for anyone complaining about being hurt,’ he explained. He told me that in his new world forgiveness was not an attribute of the strong because it is the non-Gods who are forever forgiving them. ‘The truth is that it is true here on earth as well,’ he said, and then explained that the masses were anyway forgiving the political masters all the time and ‘so you must not believe in a word that I ever wrote.’ I realized that we were indeed living in a blind world where we had already bartered an eye for an eye and in a blinding rush were going wherever we were herded. I was perplexed by all his new interpretations and asked, ‘But you did say that life is wherever there is love, didn’t you?’

‘I did,’ said Gandhi with a sigh, ‘but life happens only if we follow the dictates of the Gods and the sooner you practice this, the more prepared will you be for your after-life.’

By this time I had begun wondering if I really wanted Gandhi to be back with his cache of new learnings. He probably read my mind and said, ‘Despite our new set of problems, we have no enemies there. Look, even Godse is a part of our small band of brothers in heaven. He is the one who networks with the Gods as his name allows him to. He was the one who got us permits to visit this world.’

‘Godse? You’re sure of this?’

‘Yes, of course. Zia, for instance, died with his wish to visit the harlots in Amsterdam. He is there and is probably fulfilling his wishes there. Mujibur is having rasam-filled puchkas in Bengaluru. Stalin decided to go to Amritsar to have pasta-filled samosas. Patel wanted to see if his statue in Gujarat is really as tall as the earthlings claim it to be. Bradman was here a few days back to watch the finals of IPL and wrote an article on how cricket and money now complement each other. In fact, it was his article that made Indira and Rajiv come here to explore how the bitcoin system works. You see, there is a lot of innovative ideas that we keep getting from each of our visits here on earth.’

Gandhi then drew an imaginary circle and looked at it carefully. He then said, ‘Time for me to get back. We are like batches of research teams visiting this world to learn new tricks because no one but the mortals can do so much innovative thinking. The future of my world up there depends a lot on what you guys do here today. So keep up the good work.’

‘Good work?’ I said and then thought of everything from the imploding crime graph to terrorism all around, and from divisive policies of politicians to fake news on the social media. Gandhi smiled and said, ‘Don’t worry. These are all stages that must be endured for the next stage to be launched. We too are hoping that the mortal penchant for innovative thinking will have some solutions to every issue that is seen as a problem here.’ This was when he ran his knobby fingers through my hair while we relaxed on my bed which made me terribly drowsy and when I woke up the next morning he was gone.





The day I met Gandhi. #GandhiReturns #indispire
The day I met Gandhi. #GandhiReturns #indispire




Arvind Passey
28 May 2019