This picture is not the LOC. It is not an incarceration centre. It is not a prison. It is not a loony bin. This is my home! This the wall that separates us from our new neighbours!
I seek your indulgence today for writing a very personal post. I ask it in the name of all I have done and stood for and in the name of my mother who fought for the freedom of our beautiful country and was even willing to live as an old maid rather than give birth to a child in an enslaved land. God did give her one child: me. Kamala, my incredible and beautiful mother ensured that her only child take her first breath in an India that was free.
Today, sixty five years later I wonder if it was all worth it.
I have over the years felt saddened at many things but set them aside and never lost hope. I preferred taking the road less traveled and dog what I could to fulfil the dreams of all those who fought for our freedom. It was a fulfilling journey. There were hiccups but it was all par to the course and was taken as such. Ours is not a perfect world.
When things got bad, I drew strength from the home we built almost half a century ago where every wall is filled with memories of unconditional love and abundant gratitude. My home, now old and crumbling was my security blanket. I just needed to walk in and felt at peace.
But even that has been taken away from me.
The old house next door was brought down and in its place a new building was erected with many flats. Even that was OK. For many months the din and rattle made by the workers and their families was comforting. It was my India. The wailing of babies, the shouting, the laughter and even the fights, everything was welcome. But that too ended. Now we have neighbours!
I looked forward to meeting them as my generation welcomed neighbours and often bonded with them. But that was not to be.
I was woken from an afternoon sleep by strange jarring noises. I wet out and discovered workers on the wall that separates the house drilling holes and placing iron angles. When I asked what was happening I was told that this was for barbed wires, the lethal kind. My blood ran cold. This was the place where Utpal and my grandchild play in summer, the wall they climb when their ball gets stuck in the tree or on the parapet. This was the wall across which in the good old days when the old house existed we handed over a cup of sugar or some other silly item the neighbour needed, the wall where we stood and simply exchanged a greeting.
The idea of looking at barbed wire was preposterous and filled me with sadness and rage and total incomprehension. What had we become? When had we lost all that was good and beautiful? When had we allowed the invisible barriers we had erected to become visible and so in the face. This wall is just between their house and my house. When did they and I become enemies.
I did try to reason with the young person who will now be my neighbour. But to no avail. The fear was so deeply instilled that no words could assuage them. Those fears were a reflection of the society we have become. It seems like no one knows what the cause is. That has got lost in translation.
The anger gave way to sadness and the sadness to the realisation that the barbed wire was here to stay and that it was for me to find a way of protecting myself and my children and grandchild from its ugly sight.
Today I will get some kind of shield placed in front. I will make sure it is bright and filled with colours. I will make sure that my little ones will be able to climb that wall and that tree and get at the ball they hit often purposely so that they can climb that tree and that wall.
I refuse to be greeted by barbed wires every morning!
Remember, I am the child of the mother who was willing to sacrifice motherhood at the alter of freedom.