Slices from Life

Bapu walked here

By Lina Krishnan

The corridors of time. The author’s school in Delhi’s Mandir Marg.

At my school, on the 30th of January, at ten minutes to eleven, a bell would ring once, like a Buddhist gong. It was a reminder to keep silence; for this was the hour and the moment when Mahatma Gandhi was gunned down. It was a time to reflect on his message and his life.

While these few minutes of silence might be common practice across India in those days, our school also had more permanent reminders of Gandhiji; there was a sculpted bust of his with a sign that said: Bapu walked here.

As young children, we had the mistaken impression that he had walked from here, and not from Birla House, to his last prayer meeting where the assassin met him; later we realised that was not so; he had merely visited earlier. Perhaps from the Harijan Basti* next door, where older students from our school went to take non-formal classes with the children of the community.

We too were sent, when a little older, to continue this form of teaching. To be frank, we did not feel much like teaching, nor did the children there like studying with newbies like us. At the time, envy was the only emotion we felt at their lack of educational fetters, a sort of Tom Sawyer meets the free-spirited Huckleberry Finn scenario. We would have to return to our classes, strict teachers and tons of homework, while those fortunate beings could fly kites and run about. After a few visits when they relaxed with us, it dissolved into fun and games and that was better than our amateur attempts to teach them.

It was years before I realised that we were the students there, learning life lessons about a world beyond the trappings of our public school life and middle class existence. In this, his birthday month, I would like to think of an old man, schooled in British law courts, yet spending a life outside, fighting both the Empire and injustice on many levels. He was probably nudging us in a puckish way, to walk in his footsteps, towards the not so privileged and to discover the symbiotic web of life in the human ecosystem.

*Harijan Basti: A low caste colony

Lina Krishnan is a poet, abstract artist and photographer in Pondicherry. She has a chapbook of nature verse, Small Places, Open Spaces, with Australian poet valli poole. 





Peace & Resistence

By Dr. Piku Chowdhury

Peace and Resistance

For the love of myself, I can’t shut out the drumbeats

Reverberating in the primitive groves of ancient times

Daughter of shadows, you burn in shades of my heart.

I can’t jump over untouched spaces that

Hide under urban gloss, overlying putrid fungal stretch.

If Vemula burns and daughter of soil

Is groped with soiled nails and golden fangs

The untouchable touched with carrion lust,

For the love of self, a daughter of a sacred land

Where Shanti flows in honeyed air, and

Is enshrined in the fluttering flag,

I allow the primitive drums to roar

strange rhythms loud, and echo in blood.

For the love of myself, I strain my ear

To the silent resilience of nation’s father.

And then — I wield the reticent pen

Pregnant with the pent-up pain

And catch the helpless weeping rain

To create a song woven in weft

Of Bapu’s sublime dreams of justice

Liberty, equality, reverence, mercy-

The flowing lines an obeisance

to the power of peaceful resistance.

Against dismal discrimination,

Corruption and exploitation.

The lines take flight like the winged herald

Of peace; the rhythm echoes in groves

With the power of a lonesome figure, righteous in resistance

Marching erect with might of peace; undaunted will

That breathes new life in every faltering existence.


Dr. Piku Chowdhury is a teacher in a government aided post graduate college of education and an author of 8 books. She has published more than 70 articles in international journals and acted as resource person in many national and international seminars and symposia. She has published poems, acted as editor,  translator and core committee member of curriculum revision in the state.