CHAPTER 18: THE SHOWDOWN
We cut back to the past even after Saket Ram is dead. The rest of the story is revealed to Tushar by Saket Ram’s grandson. We return again to colour. Saket is ready to renounce the animal inside once and for all. He looks at the animal for one last time in the mirror. He will not be the same person hereafter. He closes the gun case after placing the gun in it, metaphorically implying that he has put an end to his rage of violence which will be shut hereafter.
Saket arrives at the Birla house. He notices the date on the calendar – 30th January. The day India would cry. He notices Gandhiji walking out with Sardar Patel and Moulana Azad after his daily prayer. Shruti Haasan appears as Sardar Patel’s daughter. Saket knows Gandhiji’s routine for he has been observing him every day for the whole month. He notices Gandhiji walking towards him as he tells his helpers about how punctuality is important in life. He is walking fast towards the main building. He interrupts Gandhiji and a conversation ensues:
“Saket: Please, Bapu is late for the meeting. I have a confession to make.
Gandhiji: I also have a confession to make. I’m ten minutes late. At my age, every second counts. And to waste it amounts to murder.
Saket: Please, Bapu, listen to me.
Gandhiji: You listen to me, Ram…When we walk to Pakistan together, we will confess our sins to each other. There will be days of walking and lots of time.”
Little does Gandhiji know that wasting time literally is going to amount to murder. Saket is tormented as he stands before Gandhiji. He is pushed on his knees by the weight of his guilt and the humbleness of the man in front of him. He places his palm on the box and tries to tell Gandhiji the truth. Gandhiji’s words push Saket more and more to guilt and bring him to near tears reminding him of Amjad’s promise to walk to Pakistan. As Saket tries to delay Gandhiji so that he can pour his heart out, the latter apologizes and walks on.
As Gandhiji walks, he talks to his helpers about the quality of food he is being given
“Gandhiji: You have been feeding me cattle fare.
Susheela: Bapu, you used to call it horse fare.
Gandhiji: It is not grand of me to relish what no one else will even touch.”
Note the comparison of Gandhiji once more to a horse reminding of the comparison established by the Maharaja in the stable in Bombay. Also Gandhiji, perhaps, indicates that nobody else follows his doctrine of Ahimsa. He alone has been following it.
As Gandhiji proceeds, the crowd grows thicker. As he nears the building, a man, whom we had seen during the blast 10 days ago stalling Gandhiji and greeting him. As the helpers tell him that Gandhiji is late for the meeting, he reveals a pistol and shoots Gandhiji thrice who falls down helplessly. He does not cry “Hey Ram” as believed by many to be his last words. The man is Nathu Ram Godse, who had escaped the clutches of the police in the hotel. He drops his gun after making sure Gandhiji is dead. Everyone around is stunned but are quick to start thrashing Godse. Mr. Goyal stops them and tells them that this is the moment of truth. He asks them to follow Gandhiji’s doctrine of Ahimsa in the most testing time. He manages to stop the crowd beating Godse. Gandhiji, the Ravana is killed. The prophecy is complete, but not by our Ram. It is a Ram all right, Nathu Ram.
The mentality of Saket is most complex now. They say that you’ll know the value of things when they disappear. The same thing happens to Saket. As he sees Gandhiji being shot and killed, he is both furious that a man has done such a crime and frustrated that the mishap has occurred just when he had decided it should not. He is enraged at the murder and runs towards him taking out his gun. He is ready to kill the murderer as he runs. As he nears the scene, he is able to hear Mr. Goyal’s appeal for non-violence. Saket breaks down. He sees himself in Nathu Ram. He sees how he had wasted his life and even committed sin killing tens of men. Mr. Goyal’s appeal reminds him of how wrong he was in getting back at the murderers immediately after Aparna was killed. He realizes that this is indeed the moment of truth and holsters the gun back into the box. He learns that true masculinity is not avenging a loss, but much more non-violent and cerebral than that. He has decided that he will not commit the same folly as he did in Calcutta and closes the box. He has eschewed violence for good. But at the cost of what?
As Godse is taken away from the police, Saket cries holding the box close to his heart, careful not to let it slip open, suggesting that he will not indulge in violence by the fall of the mind. As Saket stands crying alone in the vast grounds, we hear the haunting rendition of “Vaishnava Janato” by D. K. Pattammal, the same song that Mythili had sung during their first meeting. The song translates to:
“He is the real Vaishnava, who feels other’s suffering as his own.
He is the real Vaishnava, who feels other’s suffering as his own.
He is the one without any conceit who serves those afflicted.
He is the one without any conceit who serves those afflicted.
He is the real Vaishnava, who feels other’s suffering as his own.”
Saket Ram realizes the truth of the song with reference to Gandhiji. He realizes that, even though he was a Vaishnava by birth, he has not done enough to sustain the title. He does not deserve to be called a Vaishnava. As the corpse of Gandhiji is taken away by his followers, Saket watches on. The colour shifts back to black and white to indicate that nobody knew what followed.
Saket traces back the path that the followers came. He sees the blood of the Mahatma on the way. He goes back to the scene of murder and notices Gandhiji’s slippers and spectacles on the floor. He picks them up takes them with him. The role of the mechanical and angry Rama is gone. He has become, instead, Bharata who brings back home, his beloved brother’s sandals with love but immense pain about his exile into forest.
He waits at the Birla House as Lord Mountbatten, Nehru, Azad and Sardar Patel arrive. They try to pacify the crowd by saying that it was a Hindu, not a Muslim, who killed Gandhiji. They go in and discuss the further course of action.
“Nehru: How did you know it was a Hindu?
Mountbatten: I didn’t. Was it a Hindu?
Mountbatten: Thank God for that! Or the country would have been torn apart.”
They decide to announce that it was a Hindu who murdered Gandhi. Saket cries. He considers himself to be that Hindu. As Saket falls to the ground, we hear the song “Raghupathy Raghav Rajaram”, as we did in the beginning, being played in the background completing and closing the circle of madness of Saket.
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