Friday, 16 May 2014

Mermaid of the Lake

Just after dawn, while the sun was still a red ball over the eastern hills, Joy went down to the lake, as he did ever day.

As he walked, fairies scattered from before his feet, chittering indignantly. Jay normally tried to avoid the fairy grazing grounds, but they must have migrated again, as they did several times a moon. It would be a couple of days before he could map it out, so that he knew to avoid it. And then, without warning, they’d change it again.

“You could at least leave some kind of marker,” he said aloud, though he knew it would do no good. He’d said this many times before, but the fairies never listened. “One day I’ll probably step on one of you,” he threatened, “and it won’t be my fault, at all.”

The fairies didn’t say anything. One waited too long to fly away and its tail scraped Joy’s ankle, drawing a line of blood.

“Ouch,” he said. “Watch what you’re doing, why don’t you?”

The fairy just sniggered derisively and flitted away into the grass.

From where he was standing, Joy could still see the castle. Today, the knights would come from across the hills, their red, gold, green and maroon banners flying, for the tournament. Joy loved tournaments, loved to guess which knight would win. That his guesses were nearly always wrong meant nothing to him.

“I’ll bet today’s tournament is the best of all,” he said to himself. “Maybe I’ll take part in one some day.”

That day would probably be a long time coming, Joy knew, because he wasn’t big or strong, and it would take many long years before he got big and strong, if he ever did. But then he would put on armour, too, and sit on a huge horse, and then he would be a star of tournaments, and everybody would know his name.

But for now, he’d sit by the lake and watch the sun come up, and then maybe he might swim a while, if it was warm enough.

The Loch Ness Monster was still up and about, its long neck and rear hump breaking the surface a little way from the shore. Seeing Joy, it swam over, eager to chat, as usual.

“Hey, laddie,” it called cheerily. “Kind of early, aren’t you?”

Joy tried to ignore it. He didn’t much like the Monster, which had a habit of splashing freezing water over anyone who came within range. The Monster thought it a huge joke, and laughed until both its humps shook like jelly. But Joy knew the Monster was lonely, and he was a kind hearted boy, so he turned towards it.

“Shouldn’t you have gone home by now?” he asked. “The sun’s already up.”

“Ah, I thought I’d warm me blood a little,” the Monster said. It had little horns on its small head, and it waggled them at Joy, playfully. “You’ll be wanting a bath, lad?”

“Don’t you dare,” Joy warned it. “I’ll never speak to you again.”

“Never is a long time,” the Monster said, but moved just about far enough away that it couldn’t splash Joy. “So, I hear that the knights be coming today. Tournament, hey?”

“Yes, there’s going to be a tournament,” Joy said. “It happens every so often, so you know all about it.”

“Oh, aye,” the Monster agreed. “I know all about it. Maybe I’ll drop in one day and scare the knights right off their horses. Just think what it would be like.”

Despite himself, Joy giggled at the thought. All the clanging metal as the knights fell over each other, trying to get away, and lying helplessly on their backs, like upturned beetles trying to set themselves the right way up again...the pretty ladies scrambling to escape, and tripping over their own long skirts. It would be hilarious.

“But you shouldn’t really do it,” he admonished. “Tournaments are important. One day I’d like to be in one.”

“Maybe I could be your horse,” the Monster suggested. “You’d probably like that, wouldn’t you?” It had been slowly sneaking closer to the shore, and now it suddenly threw a flipper-load of water at Joy. But he’d been waiting for it, and jumped to one side. Only his feet got wet.

“I told you not to do that,” he yelled. “I’ll never talk to you again, I swear.”

“Never is a loooong time,” the Monster laughed, swimming away. It submerged a little way from the shore, going down to its lonely home in the mud of the lake bottom, where it would sleep the day away.

“I really won’t talk to you,” Joy called after it, still annoyed. But of course he knew he would, and the knowledge annoyed him even more.

Still, it was a lovely morning, and when he went down to his usual flat rock by the water, the sun was already warming the air. He sat there and watched the dragons flying back and forth over the far shore. They seldom came this way, which was a pity, really, because he enjoyed talking to them, but they’d explained that they didn’t really like to be close to people.

“Your energies cause us pain,” the purple and yellow one had explained, her antennae twisting like snakes. “We can only be near you a short time, and then we begin to hurt all over.”

“Try to understand,” the blue and green one had added, gently. “It’s nothing you can help, or we either. We can visit you sometimes, but only for a short while, and then we have to go away again.”

So he sat and watched them fly over the mountains, and perch on the edge of cliffs before diving low over the water. He was so engrossed in watching them that when something snorted at his shoulder and a huge horned head leaned over him, he almost fell off the rock.

The unicorn snorted again, derisively. It had been some time since Joy had met the beast, and he’d neglected to bring something to feed it, a bun or apple, both of which it loved. So he merely rubbed its nose.

“How could I have known you’d be coming?” he asked it. “If I’d known, I’d have brought something. Where have you been all these days?”

The unicorn didn’t answer, of course. It merely nuzzled him so its straggly beard tickled his neck and made him laugh, and then turned its head to scratch at its flank with its knobbly, twisted horn. He rubbed at its neck.

“One day,” he told it, “just think, you and I will walk together to the far side of this lake, and we’ll go and explore those caves on the hillside there. I wonder what lives in them? Sometimes at night there are lights inside them, white and red and blue. I think I’d like to find out, don’t you?”

The unicorn snorted again, and pushed past him to the water to drink. Its tail slapped Joy on the shoulder and the side of his face, rhythmically, and, he knew, quite deliberately. He tried to decide if it was uncomfortable.

“That’s enough,” he tried to say, but part of the tail went into his mouth, so he moved as far to one side as he could without actually falling off the rock. The unicorn finished drinking, turned and snorted affably to him, shook its head so that its beard showered him with water, and walked away into the woods.

He was still laughing and wiping himself dry when the mermaid climbed out of the water and sat next to him. She, of course, was wearing no clothes, so he averted his eyes modestly from her, which made her laugh, as always.

“Oh, Joy,” she said. “Look at you, you’re turning red. How will you ever get along in the world if you get so easily embarrassed?”

Joy just blushed more furiously than ever. “It’s just the same old world,” he muttered. “What’s there to get along about?”

“The same old world? Oh, but, Joy, it isn’t.” There was a new note in her voice, very far from her usual teasing. “You don’t know anything about the world, do you?”

“What are you talking about? I don’t understand.”

“Look at me,” she said. “It’s important, Joy.”

Reluctantly, he turned his head towards her. Her eyes were wide, concerned, and brimming with tears. He was shocked, because these were the first time he’d ever seen her crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Have I hurt you somehow?”

She shook her head, the tears still trembling on her eyelashes. “It’s not your fault,” she told him. “It’s just that I was thinking how little time you have left here.”

“How little time?” He frowned. “I don’t understand. I’ve been here all my life, and I don’t ever want to leave.”

“It doesn’t matter what you want,” she said. “Soon enough, you’ll grow up and go away, and then you’ll never think of us again. So you’d better get used to the real world, Joy.”

“The real world? Why do you keep saying that? What is this real world?”

“The one that...” She shook her head. “How do I explain? This lake...those dragons, the hills, even I...we aren’t real. You’re imagining us.”

He frowned again, not understanding. “What do you mean? All this is something I made up?”

“Not consciously, oh no. But, as surely as the sun is up there in the sky, you’re imagining us. We’re all just a sweet dream inside your head. One day, you’ll have enough of the dream, and we’ll vanish into the mists until some other child dreams us up again.” She paused, looking out across the water. “I’ll miss you, Joy.”

“You mean...” Joy whispered, “that there’s some other world out there? Something I have in?”

The mermaid nodded, slowly. “Something very different, and you’d better prepare yourself for it. None of this is real – but everything in that world is.”

“Can me?”

“Do you really want to see it?” she asked. Her voice was very sad. “Once you see it, you can never forget it again.”

He thought about it a minute. “This has happened before, hasn’t it?” he asked. “With other boys.”

“Yes. Yes, it has.”

“And,” he added, “you’ve asked them the same questions, told them this same things, and they had a look, and after that, they never thought of you in the same way again. And you’re afraid that that’s going to happen with me.”

“You’re right again. It is going to happen that way.”

“Then why did you tell me about it at all?” he asked. “Why didn’t you just let me go along until I...woke up?”

“Because you needed to know – and it’s my job to tell you, to prepare you.”

There was a long silence. “A little while ago,” he said at last, “I was getting my ankle scratched by an angry fairy, and thinking about riding in a tournament one day. And now you tell me it isn’t real.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I wish it didn’t have to be like this.”

“I still want to see it,” he told her.

“Of course you do. I understand completely. They always do.”

“But,” he said, “before you show me, there’s something you can do for me.”

“What?” She turned towards him, and raised her eyebrows. “What do you want me to do?”

“Before you show me, I want you to put this all...” he waved a hand at the lake and the mountains, and the wheeling dragons. “I want you to put this all into my mind, somewhere safe, where I can visit whenever I want. Can you do that?”

She bit her lip. “You’ll tire of us,” she said at last. “Someday you’ll wish us all gone.”

“You said you’d miss me,” he said. “Don’t you think I would miss you too?”

She smiled suddenly. “Soon, I’ll be just a childish fantasy.”

“Not if you’re inside my mind,” he replied. “I’ll get up in the dark of night, and come down to this shore, and it will be dawn here, and the Monster will be waiting to splash me. And the dragons will be turning and turning in the sky, the unicorn will come down to drink. And perhaps, one day, we’ll go across the lake and explore the caves on the hill.”

“And you’ll have to put up with me too,” she reminded him. “Have you forgotten that?”

“Especially you,” he told her. “You, mermaid. Especially you.”


Years passed, the seasons turning from summer to winter and back again. Joy grew to a fine young man, and made a name for himself in the world of factories and computers and business deals, where nothing was beautiful or simple or made to last. But – alone among all his peers, he seemed to need nothing, to be happy no matter what was happening around him, no matter how hard things got.

They did not know, nor would they understand if they had known, that each night he would walk down inside his mind to the lake, and talk to the Monster, and watch the dragons flying. And then the mermaid would swim up from the water, and they would talk, in the light of a summer day.

No, they would not understand him, and they would call him crazy.

But then, in their world, happiness was crazy, as was imagination, and everything that was beautiful and strange, so it was as well that they didn’t know.

He told the mermaid that one day. She smiled and touched him lightly on the shoulder. There was no need for words.

When he woke in the morning, he was still smiling.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014

The Votes Roll In

So today is der Tag. The counting of votes starts at 8 am, less than half an hour from now. By 12 noon we should more or less have a clear idea which way it's going to go, though final tallies will only come in at five this evening or thereabouts. 

I can see the following scenarios:

1. (Most likely): The Hindunazi National "Democratic" Alliance (BJP + allies) gets 250 to 270 seats, 10 to 20 less than a majority. They have to depend on other parties to form a government. 

Why this is the least bad case scenario: Because the worst impulses of the Hindunazis will be kept in check by the necessity to keep the alliance intact. Some kind of modus vivendi will have to be evolved. 

2. (Less likely): The NDA gets fewer than 240 seats. An unstable alliance led by the - severely weakened - Congress comes to power.

Why this is a worse-case scenario: Rampant, unchecked corruption as the Congress keeps allies happy by allowing them to loot at will, just as in the last government. Total lack of policy and administration. 

3. (About the same chances as 2): NDA as above. The Congress supports a "Third Front" alliance of disparate parties to form a government. 

Why this is a terrible scenario: This experiment has been tried several times before. In every case the government has quickly collapsed due to infighting, and the Congress has withdrawn support whenever it imagines that it might benefit from fresh elections.

4. (Hopefully Least Likely): The NDA gets over 300 seats, and the BJP itself gets around 280 - enough to form a government on its own, even without its allies.

Why this is positively the worst-case scenario: We're going to have an out and out Hindu fascist dictatorship. Especially as the hollowness of the Hindunazis' electoral promises becomes manifest, and people begin to turn against them, the regime will crack down on all dissent and criticism. All opponents will be labelled "traitors" or "Maoists". There will be a deliberate attempt to permanently divide the population on communal lines so people vote for the Nazis out of fear.

Let me say that the Hindunazi electoral campaign is basically a marketing gimmick. Under no circumstances can they last even six months of rule without alienating the very people who will have voted them into power. If the Hindunazis are running a minority government with the support of allies, they can blame their non-performance on the allies. But if they have a government of their own, they will also own the failures of that government. And the realities of the national situation, plus the inevitable ego and power struggles inside the Hindunazi edifice itself, make failure inevitable.

At this juncture, the Hindunazis will need scapegoats. Pakistan is an obvious choice, but Pakistan can’t be blamed for bad roads or the lack of water, power, or employment. So the scapegoats will be internal – like those of us opposed to Hindunazism. And if things get too bad, there’s always the option of starting a “limited” war with Pakistan to keep the country distracted and paint all critics with the brush of treason.

Supporters of Hindunazi chief Narendrabhai Modi, in masks in his image. Talk about personality cults!

There is, of course, a fifth scenario:

5. The Congress maintains or increases its current seat level, and manages to form a government on its own or with its current allies.

Comment: This is not going to happen.

None of these scenarios is good, you'll note. But that's daymockcrazy in the 21st century. 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Steps to a Congress revival

This article is almost certainly futile.

In fact, it’s futile on two levels – first, in that the advice given in it will certainly not be taken; and doubly so in that I, who am giving that advice, hope that it is not taken.

I’ll explain.

As I may have mentioned once or twice on here, India is going through an election. In fact, it’s just done going through the election, which started on the seventh of April and ended the day before yesterday as I write this – over a month from start to finish, and that’s not even including the counting of the votes, which is yet to begin.

Also, as I have said earlier, Indian politics is largely divided between two right-wing conglomerations: the Hindunazis, in the form of the Bharatiya Janata Party (“Indian People’s Party”, BJP) and its allies on one side; and the dynastic right, in the form of the Congress Party and its allies, on the other.

Now, while the vote counting will only take place, and the results come out, the day after tomorrow, one can already foresee that the shape of the final results will be a massive, enormous rout for the Congress and major gains for the BJP. The only question is whether those gains will be enough for the BJP to form a government, or whether the Congress and a bunch of other parties will manage to cobble together enough seats to somehow hang on to power. Most probably, unless all the opinion polls lie very drastically, they won’t.

Therefore, it’s more than likely that India will be under Hindunazi rule for a while. The last time was from 1998 to 2004, when they did such charming things as make astrology and “Vedic mathematics” subjects taught in universities, and came within millimetres of sending troops to join in the occupation of Iraq. And that was when a “moderate” was in charge. This time the top man is someone who’s closely patterned on Mussolini, inflammatory rhetoric and all.

For the moment, let me focus on the losing side, though. Now, as I have said over and over and over, I despise the Congress. I detest it, if anything, more than I hate the Hindunazis. As I’ve said over and over, there is nothing the Congress won’t do, no depth to which it won’t stoop, for the most temporary  electoral benefit. To my mind, the Congress deserves to vanish from the pages of the nation’s history.

But, on the other hand, there’s only one realistic alternative to perpetual Hindunazi rule, and that’s the Congress. Whether we like it or no, we have to acknowledge that. If the Hindunazis have to be put down, only an alliance built around the Congress can do it...just as they did in 2004, and unleashed the worst government this nation has ever suffered, one which made even the Hindunazis look good.


But the fact is that the Congress is in such steep decline, has lost so much goodwill and earned so much hatred, that it will take an amazing amount of misgovernance and incompetence from the Hindunazis to make it a viable choice again for anyone with half a brain. In fact, the way the Congress is going, it will simply make itself unelectable for the future to come.

But let’s assume that the Congress actually wanted to try and make itself an acceptable alternative again. How should it go about it?

We can identify a few areas that, um, could use work.

First, of course, is the absolute need to dump the dynasty. As I’ve said many times, the Congress Party, like most Indian parties except those on the far left and the far right, isn’t really a political party; it’s a privately owned family business, belonging to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. At one time, this dynasty had a measure of respect, which would translate into votes, because this country was, and to a large extent still is, completely feudal. But that time is now past.

The Dynasty: from left, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra

The current Gandhi dynasty is a shade of a shadow of the politicians of old, such as Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi. They were evil, scheming, and thoroughly unscrupulous, but at least they were, within limits, relatively able; and they led from the front. The current dynasty comprises Indira Gandhi’s Italian-born daughter-in-law, Sonia, who is rumoured to be terminally ill, and her children, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra. The presumed heir to the dynasty is Rahul Gandhi, who is so utterly incompetent that each time he opens his mouth his party probably loses ten thousand votes. His sister, Priyanka, is allegedly less of a liability, but she’s married to a man who can most politely be described as an extremely shady character, who has used his dynastic connections to get mind-bogglingly rich overnight.

Once upon a time, the dynasty used to lead from the front, as I said. But those days are gone. In 2004, Sonia Gandhi – rather than take the reins of power herself or put her princeling son in the top spot – selected a completely spineless nonentity, Manmohan Singh, as a rubber-stamp prime minister. Manmohan Singh had only one qualification for the post – he was completely unelectable and had no political base whatsoever, so he could never be a threat to the dynasty’s hold over the party. That he was also a complete and utter nincompoop was immaterial compared to that one premium virtue. Throughout his reign, as at least three books by his former aides have pointed out, he was remote controlled by the Gandhis. There was nothing surprising about that either.

Manmohan Singh: the dynasty's rubber stamp.

Today, thankfully, Manmohan Singh, who never won even a municipal election in his life, is history; whoever takes over will at least have successfully won at the ballots. But the dynasty is still hanging on, and shows no sign of ever relinquishing its hold over the party. Even now, with defeat looming, the primary preoccupation of the party is shielding Rahul Gandhi from blame for the defeat, at all costs.

Far from the dynasty being necessary to the party, as in the past – when people used to vote for it because of the ruling family, not because of the policies – it has become a millstone round the collective Congress neck. For one thing, the dynasty no longer attracts votes even in its own pocket borough of Amethi in North India. For another, in the party, how high you rise doesn’t depend on ability or even luck – it depends entirely on how much you brown-nose the dynasty, and even then the very top levels are beyond you. Perhaps if you are a complete invertebrate without a personality, like Manmohan Singh, you might become a chair-warmer; but that is all that you can aspire to. No surprise then that the Congress has seen an exodus of talent, with politicians of any ability leaving to form their own parties. If the dynasty is removed, and the top levels become open to ability and competition, not only would those people come trooping back, but others would join and rise from the ranks.

Instead, like the Titanic, the Congress is sinking on the iceberg of the dynasty, and still the band plays on.

The second thing the Congress needs to do is become secular. Now the party had a tradition of pretending secularism, but it never was really secular after the time of Jawaharlal Nehru. A creeping tendency to appeal to religious fundamentalists for votes started with Indira Gandhi, who paid for it with her life. Her son and the third of the dynasty, Rajiv, began courting both Muslim and Hindu fundies, thus indirectly opening the way to the Hindunazi resurgence that now threatens to wipe out the Congress itself. But secularism is the only way out for India, which cannot afford another series of communal conflagrations as in the 1980s to the early 2000s. Besides, the vast majority of Indians, Hindus and Muslims both, would rather live in peace with each other and focus on the daily struggle for existence. Given a genuinely secular choice, they would choose it rather than the fundamentalists on both sides, who depend on the opposite faction’s fundamentalism to demand votes for themselves as the protectors of their people.

This secularism, to be effective, has to be genuine and total. Today India is a creeping Hindu theocracy, where Hinduism is steadily intruding into all official spaces. Recently, on the basis of a “dream” by a Hindu “godman”, the Archaeological Survey of India spent millions excavating a minor 19th Century princeling’s derelict palace. All it found, in place of the thousands of kilograms of gold allegedly concealed there, were a few battered kitchen utensils. Even more recently, a book on the Hindu religion by US scholar Wendy Doniger was forced out of circulation by Hindu zealots, and the government raised not a fingertip to stop it.

These are just two instances of how this is becoming a Hindu dictatorship, even under the allegedly “secular” Congress. In order to balance the books, as it were, the Congress doled out a few sops to Muslim fundamentalists as well, such as the grant of a subsidy to those going on the Hajj pilgrimage. Also, India was the first country in the world to ban Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Without that ban, probably nobody in the world would’ve ever heard of that wretched, nearly unreadable, atrociously written book. All these token sops did was infuriate the Hindunazis, who claimed these were “minority appeasement”, which they were, of course; only the appeasement was meant for the mullahs, not for the common Muslim, who didn’t benefit at all.

The third thing that the Congress urgently requires to do is revert to its socialist past. In this I am directly contradicting the received wisdom in India today, which claims only those parties wedded to privatisation and “growth” stand a chance in the polls. But all the (limited) benefits of said privatisation and growth flow to a tiny section of the people; the upper middle and upper classes, who make the most noise and get the maximum attention of the TV cameras, but who don’t have the numbers to make a difference in the vote, even if they bother to stand in line in the summer sun to vote at all. To everyone else, including the huge number of urban poor, said privatisation and “growth” merely means unemployment and skyrocketing prices. And it is the urban poor who will be willing to stand in line and vote.

Rather like its attempts to woo the fundamentalists by religious tokenism, the Congress solution is to pursue aggressive privatisation and bandit capitalism on one hand while trying to fob off the poor with unworkable “employment” schemes on the other. All these schemes, named of course after one or the other member of the dynasty, are corrupt to the core, completely useless, but attract the opprobrium of the votaries of capitalism. And yet this was the party which nationalised banks and industries, sponsored the Green Revolution which made India immune to mass famines, and stopped paying former kings and princes immense sums out of the public exchequer as “privy purses”.

Let me add something here: the Congress will never be able to compete successfully with the Hindunazis for the affections of the business class, just as it will never be able to compete with them successfully for the right wing Hindu vote. If given a choice between the openly right wing, pro-Big Business party, and one which is fairly transparently trying to play both sides of the aisle, which would the average undecided voter choose? At least one of the two is honest about its intentions, isn’t it?

I’m not mentioning corruption, because, frankly, there’s nothing to choose between the two sides as far as that is concerned. Both the Hindunazis and the Congress are corrupt to the core, and, quite clearly, they have no real choice but to be corrupt to the core either, seeing how much elections cost these days. Anti-corruption may make for great slogans, but electorally, it’s a dead duck.

As I said, this article is an exercise in futility. The Congress could dump the dynasty, return to its socialist roots, and embrace secularism, but it won’t. It will merely continue down the path it is now following, to its inevitable end of complete political irrelevance.

As a dedicated anti-Congressite, I can’t really say I’m altogether unhappy about that, either.

Raghead: #Takebackyourgirls

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Deer Friend Hitler

This piece could probably do with a little explanatory preamble. A few years ago – 2011 to be precise – Bollywood made a film called Dear Friend Hitler. The director had claimed in an interview that Hitler had loved India very much, which was one of the reasons which had moved him to make the flick.

Now, if you’ve been reading me for any time at all, you’ll probably know how my brain works. So the first thing that happened when I read of this online (this was in 2010, when it was still in the making) was that I began constructing a storyline in my head, drawing heavily on the standard Bollywood fare of the 1980s-90s, which was marked as much for its utter and total disregard for historical facts as for its reliance on song and dance. Within literally minutes I had a melodramatic scene all set up in my head, which I wrote about on Multiply, which at that time was my blogging home and which had as yet not been murdered by greedy corporate ghouls out to make a fast buck.

As it happens, my idea about the film wasn’t exactly what the director did, but going by the reviews – which didn’t exactly fall over with praise, to put it mildly – I genuinely think my version would’ve been better. At least it might have made a fair comedy.

Yes, that is meant to be Eva Braun!

I’d better explain that while Hitler might not have loved India, there’s little doubt that the Hindunazis in India love Hitler. They model themselves after him, and thousands of copies of Mein Kampf are sold in India every a self-help book.

I’m not kidding you.

Anyway, built around that scene, here’s a (partial) screenplay of Deer Friend Hitler, the first word having nothing to do with the members of the family Cervidae; it was deliberately chosen so that nobody can claim I’m infringing on their copyright or something.

Not what this is about

I’ll be using – as far as possible – a direct translation of the idiom of Bollywood flicks of the 80s and 90s to English. Yes, they really did say things like “Dog, open your ears and listen!”

In keeping with the actual Dear Friend Hitler film, all characters, including Hitler and Eva Braun, will be played by Indians. Blond wigs will be worn when thought appropriate – the more ludicrous in appearance, the better.

Of course, all resemblance to real historical persons or circumstances is a deliberate parody. I expect that is clear.

Or else.


[Scene 1 : An Indian town, circa 1942. A line of demonstrators appears in the distance, carrying Indian flags. These must be the modern Indian flag, not the version used by demonstrators during the so-called “freedom struggle”. As they march towards the camera in a straggling line, they shout slogans and wave their fists in the air.]

DEMONSTRATORS: British, quit India! Glory to Mother India!

WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR [in front, determinedly waving flag]: British go back to London! Listen to Mahatma Gandhi’s words!

DEMONSTRATORS: Long live Mahatma Gandhi!

[Camera pans to a roadblock, behind which a line of British soldiers stands. They’re commanded by a general. Let’s call him, um, General Dyer, after the British brigadier who commanded a massacre of Indian civilians in Amritsar in 1919; he’s the only British “general” whose name Indian audiences will know.]

DYER: Stop! In the name of the British government, you are ordered to return home immediately!

WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: We do not recognise your British government! Britain go back! We want freedom!

DYER: You Indians will never have freedom. This is your final warning.


DYER: Fire!

[The British soldiers open fire. The WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR is the last to fall, still clutching her flag to her breast.]

DYER: So will all Indians die who dare to rebel against our glorious British Empire! [Leaves with his soldiers.]

[Enter WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR’s son, let’s call him...come on, give me a name...OK, Bharat. That’s the name of the country in most Indian languages. It’s also a – rather rare – man’s name. He’s accompanied by his wife, YOUNG WOMAN, who at this point probably doesn’t require a name. I’ll make up one if I think she needs it.]

BHARAT [rushing frantically to WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR]: Mother!

WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR (raising head weakly): Son...don’t be sad. My blood is watering the nation’s holy, take this flag, hold it high. Son, listen carefully...

BHARAT: Mother?

WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: Go to Germany. There is a brave man who loves India. His name is Hitler. Go to him and ask him for help. Give him this flag, stained with the blood flowing from the breasts of all these martyrs. Ask him to aid you in sweeping the British from our holy land.

BHARAT: I will, Mother. I will obey your divine command.

WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: Remember always that our nation is the greatest in the universe, and that we will one day rise to take our place at the top again. Never forget this.

BHARAT: I won’t, Mother, I won’t.

WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: My blessings on your journey, my son. And now...I am...going. [Falls back dramatically, dies.]

BHARAT [yowling and throwing himself on her corpse]: Mummy! You can’t leave me and go away!

[YOUNG WOMAN takes the flag from BHARAT’s hand.]

YOUNG WOMAN: Is this the time for tears? Mother has given you a holy duty. Fulfil it. Or, I swear to you, I will myself go to Germany and to our great friend Hitler. I will give him this flag and tell him that since the men of our country are too weak, I, a woman, have come to him for help.

BHARAT: No, no, I will do it.

YOUNG WOMAN: Are you certain? If not, tell me now.

BHARAT [snatching back the flag and holding it aloft]: I am certain. Victory to Mother India!

BOTH: Victory to Mother India!



[Scene 2: The ashram of the Thousand Year Old Yogi. It consists of buildings around a yard in the centre of which is a banyan tree surrounded by a concrete platform. The Thousand Year Old Yogi sits on this platform before his devotees. He has a long, matted beard and hair coiled high on his head. As he talks, he keeps running a set of beads through the fingers of one hand.]

DEVOTEES: Bless us, Holy Saint! Bless us with your august words!

YOGI: The time has come for the world to see a new dawn, when the smiling face of Goddess India will rise again in the east, just as our great sages have prophesied, in all the scriptures. A great and glorious friend of India will help us drive away the cruel foreign rulers, and after that we will once again take our place as the leader of the world. After all, as we all know, this was the country that first invented the aeroplane and the atom bomb*, the country that is the fount of all the knowledge the others are only discovering now. The time has now come, my children, that...

[*Yes, this is an anachronism. So what?]


BHARAT: Holy Saint! You must help us.

YOGI: What is it? Wait, I know. My child, you are going on a long and difficult journey, to find the great man who will help us shake off the foreign yoke. You have come for my blessing.

YOUNG WOMAN [to BHARAT]: You see? He knows everything!

YOGI: Yes, by the grace of the Lord Sarvagunasampanna, I have been granted divine sight. But you are going on a long and difficult journey, my child. The task before you is formidable.

BHARAT: That is why I need your blessing, Holy One.

YOGI: You will have it. But along with the blessing I will give you something more.  [Rummages in a bag by his side and takes out a handful of dried herbs.] Here. Take this. It is the one and only Sanjeevani herb, which – as the Ramayana teaches us – can bring the dead back to life. Use it wisely.

BHARAT [overcome]: Holy Saint! [He and YOUNG WOMAN throw themselves down before the concrete platform.] Bless us!

YOGI [Holds hand not holding beads over their heads, blessing them]: Is there anyone among you devotees who is so brave as to go with this brave young man on a mission which will bring freedom to this land?

MOHAN [Devotee]: I’ll go!

YOGI: I declare you brothers. Go now, and come back with the flag of victory flying!

ALL: Glory to the Holy One! Glory to Mother India!



[Scene 3: Berlin. Outside Hitler’s Chancellery, which should look exactly like a block of Indian government offices except for a swastika mounted on the wall above the door. All visible vehicles will be modern Indian and will be driving on the left of the road, of course. A couple of guards in black uniforms with swastika armbands march back and forth outside. They should look as un-German as possible. Nepalis or Arunachalis would be nice. J]

[Enter BHARAT and MOHAN, carrying large bags but otherwise looking none the worse for their long and dangerous journey.]

BHARAT: Here we are, at last, outside our great friend Hitler’s headquarters.

MOHAN: Look, he has our ancient Indian symbol, the swastika, on the wall.

BHARAT: Didn’t I tell you he was our nation’s friend? We must meet him at once!

MOHAN: But how can we meet him? He has guards who certainly will stop us if we try to go inside.

BHARAT: Let’s try and see what happens. [Goes up to the nearest guard. Speaking Hindi, and then translating into English:] We need to meet our nation’s great friend Hitler.

GUARD No. 1 [atrocious Indian-accented English]: Who are you?

BHARAT [Hindi, then English]: We are from India. We have come to speak to our great friend Hitler, to ask him for help to free our country.

GUARD No. 1: I can’t let you meet him. How do I know you aren’t British spies?

BHARAT [returning to MOHAN]: You were right, the guard isn’t letting us pass. Do you think you should try to talk to them?

MOHAN: The same thing will happen.

BHARAT: Hmm. You’re right. I have it! We’ll sing a song. When they hear us sing they’ll know we’re who we say we are.

[They begin to dance and sing.]

BHARAT and MOHAN [singing, in Hindi]: 
India – the Greatest
In the world – the best of all
India  sent us here
Dear friend Hitler – hear us call.
India – from the Himalaya
Down to the deep blue sea
Full of wonder and the wisdom
Of ten thousand years of history.
India, our hearts beat for you
The greatest nation that has ever been
India, of all the countries anywhere
You are the undoubted queen.
[Hearing the singing, HITLER comes out and stands listening. He’s also in a uniform with a swastika armband.]
India, we left your shores
Shedding tears that we had to go
But our hearts were filled with joy
That you will be rid of the foe.
Mother India, you will be free
You will soon stand proud and tall
We have gone to bring you liberty
Dear friend Hitler, hear our call.

HITLER [clapping, speaking very carefully correct Hindi]: Wonderful, wonderful! I am so happy to meet you. I have spent my life admiring India, and waiting to meet Indians. I learned Hindi just for this day, but never thought I’d have a chance to speak it. Come in, come in!

[They follow him inside to a large office. EVA BRAUN is sitting to one side, reading a book on learning Hindi. She looks up as they enter. All the following dialogue is in Hindi.]

HITLER: My dear, these are two Indians who have come all the way from India to meet us. Isn’t this fantastic?

EVA: Oh, Adolf! I have waited so eagerly for this day! Come in, dear Indian guests, come in!

[They sit. She gives them tea and Indian samosas.]

HITLER: We even love Indian food and Eva taught herself how to make it. Now how can we help you, dear Indian friends?

BHARAT: Sir, it all began when my mother was cruelly murdered by the British General Dyer.

HITLER [gritting teeth]: Dyer, my ancient enemy! He shall pay for this! I will see him!

BHARAT: Yes, he murdered her and a lot of other innocent unarmed civilian protestors who were marching against the cruel British hold on our beloved land. [Wipes away a tear] My mother sent me this Indian flag for you. See, it is stained with her blood, the blood of martyrs, with which the cruel British water the soil of India.

HITLER [holding flag]: We shall avenge them! Your mother can rest in peace and India will be free! I promise.

EVA: Oh, Adolf! India calls to my heart and soul, asking me to help liberate her from the vile British.

HITLER: I was waiting for a sign. These valiant young men, who have come so far to us, are the sign I was seeking. I shall not rest now till India is liberated!

BHARAT and MOHAN: Dear friend Hitler!

EVA: Hear us, Mother India! We are coming to set you free!



[Scene 4: India. General Dyer’s office. A huge Union Jack hangs on the wall behind the general’s desk, above a collection of whips which he (presumably) uses to flog recalcitrant Indians into line. DYER and AIDE DE CAMP are talking.]

AIDE [laughing]: I’ve just heard that some troublemaking natives have gone to Germany to ask Hitler for help in throwing us out of India.

DYER: What makes you think it’s funny?

AIDE: Hitler is such a buffoon. How can he help them?

DYER [rising and striding up and down the room]: Hitler is a lover of India. He loves these natives and their religions and language and culture, their temples and towns and their ancient civilisation. He even uses their swastika as his symbol, and acknowledges that Indians originally invented everything that we know of today. He even learned their language so that he can understand them better!

AIDE: I am told one of these troublemakers is the son of one of the protestors you shot the other day.

DYER: I should have shot them all and left none alive. I’m too kind, that’s the problem.

AIDE: I did not know that Hitler loved these troublemaking, contemptible Indians.

DYER: He’s right though, that the Indians invented everything originally. But that was then. Now we are on top. We have our boots on their necks and we will never let them go.

AIDE: And he’ll help them against us?

DYER: Of course he’ll help them against us. He will do everything in his power to help them.

AIDE: He is a traitor to Western civilisation!

DYER: Yes he is. He is on the side of these inferior races, these natives. But he won’t succeed! [Snatches whip from wall and smashes it down on the desk.] I will crush these Indians once and for all! And I shall destroy Hitler, too!

AIDE [doubtfully]: Destroy Hitler? Do you really think you can manage that?

DYER: I am the one who can split a stone with a piece of glass. Anything I want to do, I can.

AIDE [saluting]: I will be by your side always, General!

DYER: Good, now this is what you must do... [Leans conspiratorially toward AIDE, murmuring orders.]



[Scene 5: India. A small temple at the YOGI’s ashram, empty but for the idol, which is garlanded with flowers and before which incense is burning. Enter YOUNG WOMAN, who by this time probably should be given a name. Let’s see...GANGA (the Ganges river). That should do.]

GANGA: God, I have just heard that the evil British general Dyer is soon going to Germany at the head of an army, to fight our dear friend Hitler and to destroy all hope of Indian freedom. Let me tell you something, God. When I agreed to send my husband and Mohan to Germany, I thought that you would protect them. But if something happens to them...

[Crashing noises of stage thunder as camera focuses on the face of the idol, repeatedly zooming partly in and out.]

GANGA [wagging index finger furiously in idol’s face]: ...then it will be you responsible for it, God! You!

[Repeat crashing noise of stage thunder and camera zooming.]

YOGI [entering]: Don’t be disturbed, my child. God never does anything but for good. Your husband and his friend will be fine. God sent them on his holy mission, and the British general will never be able to harm them, I assure you.

GANGA: Oh, Holy One. You are such a comfort.

YOGI: Go home, child, and focus all your energies on your husband’s mission. Fast for him, day and night. For do our holy scriptures not say that the wife’s duty is to fast for her husband’s welfare, and...

[Camera focuses on idol’s face as YOGI and GANGA exit.]



[Scene 6: Berlin. Hitler’s private quarters. As scene opens, EVA Braun is adjusting a sari which she has evidently just finished putting on. Enter HITLER in a Nehru jacket.]

HITLER [all following dialogue in Hindi, of course]: Eva! You look so beautiful.

EVA: I love this Indian dress. I shall never wear anything else again. Indian clothes are the best in the whole world!

HITLER: I love this Nehru jacket too.

EVA: You look so distinguished, Adolf. I hope you will wear it every day.

HITLER: Once India is free, I will visit that holy land, wearing this, and you shall be at my side. We will seek the ancient wisdom of that great country, you and I.

EVA: Oh, Adolf, I am quite overcome! You love India so much, just as I do!

HITLER [singing]: 
My heart overflows with the love
To see you free
To see your head raised high
In freedom and liberty.
As long as the sun may shine
Wherever the clouds do fly
They will carry the message
India will never die.

EVA [singing]: 
Oh my darling, you love so much
That distant country, as do I
The forests that slope to the ocean
The mountains that touch the sky.
My love, my soul, my darling sweet
Someday that land we’ll see
Freed of oppression and humiliation
Standing tall in liberty.

BOTH [singing]: 
Together we’ll sail the Ganges
Climb the Himalaya so mighty, high
Explore the wisdom and mystery
That grew under India’s blessed sky.
Someday, when the world grows weary
To India sailing we’ll go
And there we will remain together
Forever and evermore.

[The two GUARDS, BHARAT, and MOHAN burst in]

GUARD No. 1: The British army has attacked! Part of it is advancing from one direction.

HITLER: Quick, summon half my army to battle! Tell my generals to fight back and defeat them.

GUARD No. 1: Yes, sir! [Salutes and exits. Sounds of gunfire begin, with explosions.]

GUARD No. 2: Another part of the British army is advancing from another direction.

HITLER: Tell the rest of my generals to order the other half of my army to fight back and defeat them.

GUARD No. 2: Yes, sir! [Salutes and exits. More explosions and gunfire.]

BHARAT: Dear friend Hitler, we have heard that it is the vile General Dyer himself who is in charge of the British army. He killed my mother and has come seeking us here.

HITLER: Dyer! That devil! He will not get away alive this time.

EVA: He will be destroyed by your army, I am sure, Adolf.

MOHAN: I am afraid, sir, that he may try some trick. Your entire army is occupied now in defeating his forces, fighting on two sides, and in the meantime he may...

[Enter DYER, brandishing a revolver.]

DYER: Ha, ha, ha. Hitler, here you are, at my mercy. Prepare to die!

HITLER: Dyer, you have come, but you will not leave alive. [Snatches up pistol from nearby table.] I will take your dead body.

DYER: Dog, worm, open your ears and listen. I will kill you by your life. Aren’t you afraid, now that I am going to kill you?

HITLER: Idiot, only those fear death, who have not drunk their mother’s milk. Think of how you oppress all those poor Indians and you will see that you cannot escape their curses. How long do you think you can continue oppressing them without facing the consequences?

DYER: I don’t give a damn about these bloody Indians. They’re cockroaches. I should have killed them all earlier. Never mind, once I kill you I’ll finish them. Never forget that I am the one who can split a stone with a piece of glass.

HITLER: India is a great and proud country which shall soon prove itself to be the greatest and best in the world, the fount of Aryan culture. As for you, your country will vanish from the pages of history.

DYER [gritting teeth]: Dog! I will drink your blood and go.

HITLER: I will make you remember your grandmother.

[They both open fire. DYER’s bullet misses. HITLER shoots DYER’s gun right out of his hand with his return shot.]

HITLER: Now, Dyer, your time to face justice has come.

DYER: Wait. Come in, Aide, and bring the woman with you.

[Everyone looks, DYER with satisfaction, the rest with horror, as AIDE enters, dragging GANGA at the end of a rope tied around her wrists and holding a gun pointed at her.]

BHARAT: Oh no! Ganga, my darling.

DYER: Surrender to me, or the woman gets it. How could you ever forget that I am the one who can split a stone with a piece of glass?

GANGA: No! Don’t yield. Let them kill me, but don’t yield. The freedom of India is more important than what happens to me.

HITLER: How can I stand by and watch a woman harmed? It’s a matter of honour. [Begins to lower gun.] You are a cowardly swine, Dyer. You won’t get away with this.

DYER: No? We shall see. Put down that gun.

[HITLER puts it down on the table. DYER snatches it up.]

DYER: Now eat bullets. [Shoots HITLER, laughing.]

HITLER [clutching chest and giving Nazi salute]: Victory will be India’s! [Dies.]

EVA [throws herself on his corpse, screaming]: Adolf! Adolf, my love!

DYER [to AIDE]: Shoot her! Shoot the woman! [To others] I’ve been telling you over and over that I am the one who can split stone with a piece of glass, and you still don’t believe me.

BHARAT: And I am the one who can split your jaw with my fist. [Punches DYER, who goes tumbling.]

AIDE [confused]: Shoot which woman, sir? This one or that one?

MOHAN: Neither. [Punches AIDE, who also goes tumbling]. How dare you two try to harm my sister-in-law and kill our great friend?

[DYER and AIDE climb to their feet, raising their fists. They fight with BHARAT and MOHAN. Furniture splinters as each punch sends the four of them somersaulting, even though the blows clearly miss by fifteen centimetres.]

DYER [gaining upper hand, to BHARAT]: You Indians have failed. Hitler is dead. Give up now and you can live until your hanging.

AIDE [to MOHAN]: India never will be free.

BHARAT [snatching up DYER’s original gun, which he has found on the floor during the fight]:  This is for India, for my mother, and for our dear friend Hitler. [Shoots DYER, who falls dead.]

MOHAN [snatching up HITLER’S gun, which DYER had dropped during the fight]: Now eat bullets yourself. [Shoots AIDE, who falls dead.]

BHARAT and MOHAN: The evil Dyer is dead!

EVA [sobbing]: So is my beloved Adolf.

GANGA: What will happen to us now? To the cause of Indian freedom?

MOHAN [untying her]: Please don’t cry, dear sister-in-law, all is not lost yet.

BHARAT [delving into his pocket]: The Yogi gave me these Sanjeevani herbs. [Applies them to Hitler’s chest, over the bullet hole.] They can work miracles!

[HITLER begins to breathe, then gasp and cough, and finally blinks and sits up.]

EVA: Adolf! You’re alive!

HITLER: Where am I? Oh, I remember now. Where is that rascal Dyer?

EVA: Oh, Adolf, our heroic Indian friends killed them both, and saved this wonderful young woman too. And then they brought you back to life.

BHARAT: It was only our duty.

GUARD No. 1 [running in]: Sir, the first half of the British army has been defeated.

GUARD No.2 [running in]: Sir, the second half of the British army has been defeated.  

EVA: Oh, Adolf! We’ve won!

HITLER: So shall all British oppressors of India soon be shattered and destroyed!

BHARAT, MOHAN and GANGA: India will be free!

HITLER [gives Nazi salute]: Heil India!

ALL: Heil India! Heil!

[Fade. Credits roll.]

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014