Pale sunlight washes upon the dust motes that swirl slowly on this wintry morning as I slowly make my way up the creaking stairs. I’m not getting any younger and my breath wheezes out spasmodically, making the little particles whirl in a curiously angry vortex.
I knock on the wooden door at the top of the stairs…a plain brown door with nothing to distinguish it except perhaps its aging rust coloured hinges that creak indulgingly as I push the door open and enter the little room beyond.
“What news?” asks Xordin, bleary eyed and anxious, his usually cheerful face lined with worry. He is the de-facto President of India, the hope of our beleaguered nation. Repeated setbacks have turned the essentially optimistic and cheerful leader into a pessimist and an insomniac. He gets up from his seat and approaches … the fear of yet another loss evident in his eyes.
I hand over the report with a chuckle, for today I am the bearer of good news. Our troops rallied late last night and pulled off an improbable victory against the much superior Croatian Armoured Division. While Xordin begins reading the reports, my thoughts wander back to a day many years ago…to a place that was to birth a new republic…
I remember feeling the oppressive heat of the sun burning my back as I hurried past the monolithic flanks of the Sun temple, heading toward the cool, dark garbhagriha of the secluded Mayadevi temple where few tourists... and even fewer of the invading soldiers dared venture into.
I recall the adrenalin rush as the five of us stood there in the dark amid the silvery tendrils of light filtering through the entryway … excitedly discussing plans to get the revolution underway. Shail, me, David, Srachit and Sumit. I still marvel at the ferocious dedication in all our eyes…we were so young then…and passionate. Little did we know our passion would lead to a movement that would bring about the downfall of the haughty empire of eIran.
Ah those days! We were so sure nothing could go wrong…we were so sure we would fight together and when it all was over, we would stand there proudly under the tricolor. Little did we know that great victories require great hardships and even greater sacrifices. Little did we know that fate would separate us … that at the end, some of us would be here no more.
Xordin’s excited bellow brings me back out of my reverie. “Yes yes yes!” he repeats, accentuating each word with an ever louder thump on the table. I smile and shake my head wistfully as I finally see the same passion in him that I saw in our eyes…so many years ago!
I knew now that we were on our way back…that Andhra Pradesh was just the first foreign bastion to fall. It would be a long march to Kashmir, but we were prepared!!!