The word inspires.
As I walk into Sabarmati Ashram, the cool air greets me with the aroma of damp soil, the fragrance of first rains that make you want to close your eyes and feel each raindrop as it splashes onto your skin. The maali(gardener) watering the plants nearby nods at me and smiles a half-smile revealing teeth yellowed with years of chewing paan. I walk on into the gallery that depict the hard self-restricted path of dharma that was set by Lord Rama and adhered by the Father of our Nation.
As I walk through the glass panels filled with images of pre-independence India, of the trials of Gandhi, I am transported back to the yesteryears, my vision a soft yellow sepia. I faintly hear the tens of thousands of people, men in white khadi kurtas and dhotis, women in white sarees, slowly proceeding through the lanes of a forlorn city, singing "Ae mere watan ke logo..."
A single tear rolls down my cheek as emotion fills me up. They say knowledge is power. How true that is...each little bit of information that I read filled me up with the lost emotions of patriotism and love...love for what, I do not know...my country, my family, maybe the little pup wagging it's tail at me at the end of the corridor. I do not know. But love it is. A sudden thought flashes before my eyes of how thankful I was to have what I have, and of all those who sacrificed their livelihood, their lives, because of whom I can now stand here as what I am...
I stroll on the damp grass, sandals in one hand, the other in my pocket, lost in thought when I reach a small clearing which was the prayer ground. Each morning, the residents of the ashram would gather here, in front of the Mahatma's quarters and fold hands in prayer, palms pressed against each other as the strong yet mellow voice of Gandhi resonated all over the ashram. I stand here, eyes shut and realise that the vibes of the achhoots(untouchables) and other residents chanting as one could still be felt here, faint but it's there nonetheless. A half hour in the gardens of the ashram and I leave, lost in thought and a muddle of emotions in me, with a silent promise that I shall be back to this haven from yesteryears that has kept all the feelings, all it's roots held close to it's bosom, never forgetting, never letting forget, yet retaining it's sense of safety and compassion.
As I sit on the front seat of my car, I switch on the radio, lean back and shut my eyes, slowly transported back to the fight for independence as the music of "Ae mere pyaare watan..." drifts softly from the speakers...and then it all fades to black as I slowly drift off to sleep...