30th November, 2011, Janakpuri District Centre, Delhi, About 4’o clock in the evening.
“Jo bhi main, kehna chaahun, barbaad karein alfaaz mere… oh yaye…. oo yeahyeahye…” is what I was repeatedly humming while stepping out of Satyam Cineplex. The lines of this very special song from the movie ‘Rockstar’ were struck in my mind so adhesively that I just couldn’t resist singing it over and over again. The show had just finished and the song had its everlasting effect induced in me.
“Maine yehi socha hai aksar, tu bhi main bhi sabhi hain sheeshe, khud hi ko hum sabhi mein dekhe, juda hue to…” before I could apply that high note, my shoulder was tapped by someone. I knew who it was, none other than Gurdeep, my buddy whom I had left behind while singing the heavenly tunes of Rahman Saab while walking out of the cinema.
“Enough of this Rockstar shit. You are about to step into the women’s apparel shop!” he tried to bring me back into the real world with his evergreen hilarious tone which is one of the reasons why he is my best friend till date.
Driven by the force of vacuum developed in our bellies, we smashed into the nearby McDonalds, the mecca for light pocketed students like the two of us and today it was Gurdeep’s turn to treat me. I grabbed a corner duplet which I guess was eagerly awaiting a couple of butts. As I sat and let out the maximum amount of Carbon-Dioxide from my lungs as I could, I looked at Gurdeep who was frowning in the never ending queue.
I realized there was a barrier between the seat and my bum. I stood up and looked at it, there was a hard bound diary of the current year lying graciously on it. I picked it up and opened it as an instant human reaction. It had brief diary entries. The year 2011 was about to end in another month and someone had left his year catalogue in McDonald’s, just like that!
I quickly shuffled through the pages. Almost every page had an entry. It appeared to me as if the person was a die-hard diary writer, and must be kicking himself for losing a year’s memories.
I did not see any “Do Not Open” label on the diary, therefore it was my moral duty to peep into a few pages of it, with all the good intentions.
January 1st, 2011
Today is the happiest day of my life and so is for papa and maa. Getting an admission letter from Oxford University, that too on 100% scholarship on the very first day of the new year doesn’t happen everyday. It is simply outlandish, thank you god, thank you for such a beautiful life.
January 21st, 2011
Dear God, you know whatever I did was right. I never intended to hurt anyone. I don’t know how it happened. I am all but a follower of my senses and have always believed that whatever happens is your wish. I hope you have a better plan which I am not able to understand at the moment.
What happened to him? I turned a few pages back…
January 17th, 2011
Today, for the very first time I got into a fight. How could I restrict myself from rescuing Sarah? These eve teasers must be punished for what they have done. For now, God has done the right thing to them. I’ve always treated Sarah as my sister and not just a neighbor. If I get punished for what I have done, I will accept it as God’s will.
January 18th and 19th were surprisingly blank.
January 20th, 2011
I got bailed. The last two days in the lockup was a nightmare come true. I don’t know when and how it happened. The man that I pushed away ran into an iron pipe and got his head smashed. The police say he is critical but stable, that’s why the court has approved my bail and papa has signed a declaration that he will be held responsible if I create any trouble again in the future.
January 22nd, 2011
I’ve applied for visa today and I am eager to leave this country as soon as possible.
February 2nd, 2011
This is the second worst news after my visa rejection. The Oxford now denies 100% scholarship because I don’t fit in their parameters. They say I have a criminal background. For God’s sake, don’t call me criminal. I did what I felt was right as per the situation and if I get into the same situation again, I will repeat what I did. I will beat each and every eve teaser who comes across me.
February 25th, 2011
Papa got discharged from the hospital today and I still hold the grudge that it happened because of me. Mine losing the golden chance of studying in one of the top universities of the world and getting the tag of a criminal was his disease. What would have happened if I was not passing through that street that day? What would have happened if I had simply ignored the trouble those eve teasers were causing to Sarah?
March 2nd, 2011
My house is full of prospectus of Indian Universities. My life’s biggest opportunity slipped out of my hands. I wanted nothing else in my life other than getting a chance to study in Oxford. God is my only hope now.
March 23rd, 2011
I could smell the patriotism in the cool spring breeze. I had never given a thought to it in the past that Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev&Rajguru were of my age when they died for the country. They died for the people, who were mere strangers to them. They taught everyone that fighting and dying for truth & justice is the best one can do, no matter what it costs.
April 2nd, 2011
Today was however a soothing day. Khanna uncle visited home today. Patting my back he said, “Young fellow! You’ve been a topic of discussion in our office, all except your dad in our office feel that you are the bravest lad in our vicinity. Keep up the spirit my boy! There awaits a better world for you, a world which you can make a better place to live.”
It’s been more than eight hours since he said these words to me, but I can still feel the passion in Khanna uncle’s voice. His jubilant & encouraging tone made my father smile too! It’s been quite a long time since the last time I saw my father smiling. It’s been ten long weeks.
May 1st, 2011
I’ve dropped the idea of getting admission in an Indian University. This is where me and my formal education part ways. I feel that this is the time where I need to discover the real me and the purpose I need to serve in life. I met Abdul today. He was talking of setting up an NGO which would help a lot more youngsters like me and I feel like joining the campaign with him and go with the flow.
May 21st, 2011
Papa was happy when I told him that I need to discuss something. I shared my decision of not joining any University and setting up an NGO with Abdul. I noticed his smile literally vanishing. “Do what you want to. I don’t think I am in any place to guide you in this.”
He was displeased with my decision and I don’t have courage to upset him again.
June 3rd, 2011
Today was the last day for submitting applications for admission in Delhi University. I was standing in the queue to submit my application as well, but I didn’t. I would have gone ahead and submitted my application if I had not seen a few guys making fun of the girls passing by. I saw Sarah in each of those girls. I wanted to smash the heads of each one of those boys. I tore apart my application form. On my way back to home I saw a signboard that read ‘either don’t run at all or at least finish the race.’
June 14th, 2011
We registered our NGO today. Abdul backed out at the last moment. I received his sms in the morning that he wont be able to join us as his father was putting a lot of pressure on him to stabilize his career and stop spending time with useless guys like me.
Goddammit!! Whose father would allow his son to start an NGO and launch any kind of campaign? It’s us who have to be brave enough to decide about our actions. I have decided. I would happily ruin myself in the due course of cleaning the mess in the society rather than sitting idle and watching others suffering.
July 1st, 2011
I met Harish and Vishal today. These two are one of the most courageous people I have met so far. They will be joining the campaign soon.
July 17th, 2011
It was Sarah’s birthday today. Our family was invited to attend the cake cutting and in the due course, her father talked to me about the work I was doing in the NGO. He appeared happy with whatever I was doing. Papa, once again, shrugged his shoulders on the subject and clearly mentioned my stupidity. “Change does not come overnight”, he said.
I have not seen Sarah going anywhere alone from that very day when she was teased. I got to know her parents do not allow her to go out of home at all. May be they are afraid of having their daughter involved in another controversy.
August 3rd, 2011
Papa told me to leave home if I was not going to shut down the campaign against eve-teasing and concentrate on my studies. It’s been a hard year on me so far. I am lost, dejected & rejected. I don’t care anymore what God is doing to me. I will still go ahead with it. I have found peace in whatever I am doing and I know in my heart that I am not doing anything wrong. Papa will understand me someday. I will be living with Harish & Vishal from now on.
August 16th, 2011
Sarah called me today morning. She wanted to meet me. I was surprised at first, but all emotions showed up when she visited at Harish’s flat with a rakhi. It’s been years anyone tied me a rakhi. After we grew up and education stepped in as the top most priority, cousins stopped visiting our home and kept sending rakhi wishes over the phone year after year. Papa always said, “A real sister is a blessing.” I am glad I found mine today.
September 15th, 2011
Khanna uncle wants me to come back home and apologize to Papa. He doesn’t understand that I am ready to apologize a thousand times for the pain I have made my parents to suffer. What I didn’t like in Khanna uncle’s arguments was that he thinks I am ruining my life. He was the first person to support my brave actions when I fought with those guys and he is yet again the first person who is telling me to be a coward and stop acting as a revolutionary.
October 14th, 2011
Got into a fight with some drug addicts at the city outskirts. The young generation is deeply rooted to the momentary sensation of drugs. I tried to calm them down and help them to reach their homes. They appeared to be from rich families and why not? Poor can’t afford costly white powdered drugs. I got hit on my nose and have got few stiches on my left ear. The pain of the wounds will fade away but the pain of the realization that I am all alone in this never ending fight will never fade.
November 1st, 2011
Abdul called today! Some guys teased her sister and now he realizes that it will continue to happen as long as they allow it to. Abdul is joining! We are gaining numbers. It is a positive sign after a long time.
November 13th, 2011
What kind of test is this? I received an email today from Oxford that they are reconsidering me for the admission, without scholarship of course, for the classes starting next year. I am confused. I cannot read the signs anymore, there arenone.
November 29th, 2011
I have decided. I am not going to the Oxford University. Harish, Vishal, Abdul, Sagar, everyone have been telling me from the last two weeks to confirm my availability for the course but the lessons which I have learnt from life this year have been far more nurturing in terms of finding myself. Yes, I am not going. I am meeting everyone at Janakpuri tomorrow morning and I will make myself clear. I hope they won’t disagree.
“Dude! This is awesome!” I said.
“Tear it apart and throw it in the dustbin! What kind of an asshole rejects an offer from The Oxford itself?” Gurdeep presented his point of view.
We were almost finished with our McRoyales and were going through the fries when I saw someone coming straight towards our table. The guy appeared to be somewhere around 24 years of age. He was lean, tall, had a fair complexion with relatively small hair which did not suit him at all. He looked more like an army man than a student or a social worker.
“Excuse me but I think I forgot my diary here” he said in a very polite tone.
I returned the diary to him. He had sharp eyes which tore deep into my eyes. I figured out he doubted if we had read his diary but he did not seem offended. He just thanked uswith a smile.
“Hi! I am Aman, he is my friend Gurdeep.”
He shook hands with Gurdeep and thanked us once again.
I still don’t know his name, even don’t have an idea which caste or creed he belonged to. All I know is that he is a rebel..a rebel that our society needs, more than anything else.
As he left the table to join his four friends who were standing on the other side of the road, the FM Radio in the restaurant played the most famous track from the movie Rockstar and all of a sudden, the lyrics appeared to have been written for the stranger I had just met.
“In ghaddaaron mein, ya udhaaron mein,. tum mere jeene ki aadat ka kyun ghont rahe dum?
Besaleeqa main, ussgalika main, naa jis mein haya, na jis mein sharam..
Mann bole ke rasmein jeenay ka harjaana duniya dushman,
Sab begaana inhe aag lagaana, mann bole mann bole
Mann se jeena ya marr jaana…”
I understood he was a Rockstar in his own terms. He disappeared into the crowd with his friends and all I was hearing was, “Sadda Haq, Aithe Rakh!”