A glimpse of my forthcoming book, “The Hindu Boy”
It all began when a group of men, with tilak on their foreheads (a religious mark worn on the forehead by Hindus) came to persuade Aarav Shastri to contest the University’s student union election for the president’s post.
The IND university was one of the largest universities in India. It stretched over many acres of land. It had thirty two colleges in its campus, teaching various different subjects , five hostels, a mandir, a large prayer area for students believing in Islam, a chapel and a few cafeterias and restaurants. It was mini township within the town of Rampura.
These men from the Hindu Sammelan were here on a mission. They had to find the right candidate for the students election, one who was from their faith and in agreement with their ideology. They had zeroed down on Aarav Shastri and were now promising to foot the bill for his election. They were willing to provide him with every kind of help. Nominate other hindu students for subsidiary posts to fight alongside him. They also assured him they would speak to CR’s of all classes in different colleges.
“ We will get hundreds of your posters and banners printed. They will not only be put up in you University campus, but plastered across the length and breadth of Rampura. We will send whats app messages to all the students of affiliated colleges to vote for you. Arrangements will be made for multiple vehicles so that you and your supporters can move around freely in the campus and do your prachaar (canvassing). By the way the Chief Election officer is also known to us. He is a kshatriya but a supporter of brahmins.”
Aarav was taking in all this information like a new boxer taking punches from a seasoned opponent. This was all very new for him. He did enjoy a lot of popularity in his college and university, but this kind of attention was certainly being showered on him for the first time.
Another member of the group said to him,
“You see you are quite popular in your university, we have found out.”
“But that is in singing and drama. Election is different cup of tea daddu.” said Aarav.
The group of men exchanged looks and then one of them said, “Popularity is popularity. Doesn’t matter how you are popular. The main thing is that all the students know you and love you. In fact you should use your singing for your campaigning. Sing songs like ‘Raghupati Raghav Rajaram’ and win over students, so that they vote for you.”
Aarav innocently said, “But my old school friend Fahad Siddique is fighting the election for the president’s post.”
There was silence amongst the men. Then Krishna Kant spoke,
“Of course he is.. Fahad has the backing of many students of his community.”
Then he paused for effect.
“ And unfortunately the backing of many students from our community also.” he added sarcastically.
Then Bhalerao, the senior most amongst them spoke, “You see the problem with hindus is that they have never stood shoulder to shoulder with each other and supported their own. That’s why this country has been ruled by outsiders. They came, saw, divided us and conquered. Because hindus were busy fighting amongst themselves, instead of putting up a united front. But I guess we have learnt from history. Now is the time to bring all hindus together. You are capable of doing it in this university.”
Aarav felt good for a moment with this man’s trust in his abilities.
Then Bhalerao came closer to Aarav and said almost in a whisper, “You see today Hinduism is in great danger.” He paused to see the effect on Aarav. Aarav’s eyes were blank. This thought confused him. He thought to himself, ‘ Is it so ?’ Bhalerao continued, “But we will save our hindu faith. You will be one of the soldiers in this war. And Aarav, this is just the beginning of our association my boy. We have been watching you for a long time. We have bigger plans for you.”
Thus they tried their best to convince Aarav Shastri that he should stand for the university election and get himself elected as President with their support. But Aarav never took a decision without consulting his father VedPrakash Shastri.
“I will have to talk to babuji ( father ).”
The congregation was more than pleased. Bhalerao said, “Of course you should. That’s being a good son. We know you have inherited great values from a very knowledgeable father. Cant say the same about your dadaji ( grandfather) Pandit Harimohan Shastriji. He has very different views about Hinduism. But then hinduism is very large hearted and can embrace many different points of view. Do speak to your babuji, we have very little time.” Saying this they were gone.
Aarav thought about his grandfather. Dada ji’s image flashed past his mind. Sitting in meditation, in his little cave at the ashram that he headed, not very far from Rampura. About twenty miles away from the town centre. His thought brought a smile to Aarav’s face. According to him his dadaji was the coolest guy he had ever met. He headed this math (monastery ) on the outskirts of Rampura. He spoke about the stars and planets as if he was speaking of street lights and the next street lane. The whole universe was his home, he said. Aarav thought that his dadaji was an astral traveller, from what little he could learn about the old man. But Aarav also knew that his grandfather was completely cut off from the world, it didn’t matter to him whether Aarav completed his formal education or not. He had never once visited his college or for that matter any college for years. His father was the best one to advice him about the latest proposal he had received from the Hindu Sammelan. They were a cultural organisation, so they claimed. But Aarav would soon find out that they were connected to the politics of the nation.