Knock, Knock, Who’s There? Fascism…

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‘B-but we are democratic and fascism can’t survive in a democracy!’

 

PROF SHAH ALAM KHAN | Caravan Daily

 

“Who is there?”

“Fascism”

“Fascism who?”

“F-A-S-C-I-S-M……can’t you understand!”

“But that was long ago. You are fooling me. Aren’t you?”

“No, I am not, although I agree that foolishness is essential for me to survive.”

“B-but we are democratic and fascism can’t survive in a democracy”

(Loud laughter with intermittent clapping of hands.)

“You are so innocent. I love you.”

“No. I still don’t believe you. You were buried with the likes of Mussolini. You were long over.”

“I was buried but I kept myself alive, like, like ……..” (Is at loss of words)

“Like a hibernating snake maybe, haan?”

Chalo, call me a snake. But I was never hibernating. I was very much out there in broad daylight. My blood was always kept warm here.”

“But I never saw you here?”

“Because you tried to see me with your eyes. It needs a heart and a mind to see me.”

“But why in India?”

“Because there are many who love me in India. They love me like they love their money.”

“Love you? No chance! We are democratic!”

“Stop this bullshit! Democracy! Democracy! Democracy! Give me a fag if you have.”

“I don’t smoke”

“Are you sure you don’t?”

“Of course, I don’t. Shut up.” (A bit sternly)

“I thought everybody smokes in a democracy.”

“What?”

“Yeah, you democracywallas are high on dope.” (Laughter)

“No. We are not! We care for our democracy.”

(Another loud careless chuckle)

“Care? Maybe you are right. Your democracy is so fragile that it needs caring for!”

“No, it’s not fragile, it’s precious. We struggled to win it.” (Frustration in voice)

“Oh achha! And then you struggled to waste it, haan?”

“We nurtured it”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Nurtured it with the blood of untouchables and the poor? Or may be with jackboots and batons? Right?”

“You are so obnoxious!”

“Don’t call me obnoxious. I am a part of you and your democracy. I am you.”

“But none of my part is so abhorrent. I am me because of the free ethos of democracy.”

“But I lived in harmony for 70 years with your goddamn democracy. I was part of it.”

“You can never be a part of my democracy. You are ugly.”

(More laughter with the smell of ciggy smoke)

“If I am ugly, who cares? They have dressed me up so well. I look like a beautiful wish. I look so much like your goddess of democracy now.”

“No, you don’t! You are as ugly as sin. I hate you!”

“You hate me? Are you sure?”

“As sure as I am of sunrise at dawn.”

“But you never tweaked me when I was growing like a poison ivy?”

“The lunatic fringe fed you. Made you strong and this robust.”

(Loud rasping laughter. Coughs and laughs. Laughs and coughs)

“So now you blame the lunatic fringe? Hmm… and what if they are not the fringe anymore? Can you still dare call them lunatic? They are you and you are them now. The fringe has disappeared. Melted like ice under the sun.”

A loud silence and then a window suddenly opens. A breeze rushes in and the room becomes foggy. There is utter confusion, an organised din. Sounds of statues falling, hissing of a snake, slogan-shouting. Bodies against bodies. Minds against minds. An unprecedented upheaval.

A frustrated voice shouts above all the ruckus“No, it’s not fragile, it’s precious… it’s precious… it’s precious… it’s precious…”

(Shah Alam Khan is a professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at AIIMS, New Delhi. Views are personal.)

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