Running is in vogue these days. Every second person on Facebook posts selfies. And why would they not put selfies on social sites when it is so very fashionable to put their love for running. We, the friends of these narcissists, like these status posts and comment section is full of “Wows” and “Great” and “wonderful” etc. etc. Marathons have become so common these days even in small towns or even peripheral suburbs of towns that people, putting on a cap, start running at the drop of a hat! They run for “clean India”, “green India”, “lean India” or even “Mean India”, or any other prefix/ qualifier attached to the word India. Such is their love for India that they put on their bestest sports gear and run. People of all size, color and shapes run to show unity for the country they love…India. Running is so much in our genetic makeup that we have started running “marathons” to shy away from core issues!
My socially-activated-self has become so accustomed and attuned to watch people running on roads that nothing less than a Marathon would come to my mind even when I would see a group of runners…may be running to save themselves from a mad dog. So, when a nitwit like me, who has such shortsighted vision, would watch young boys running on road, how could I think otherwise?
I don’t participate in Marathons so I do the second, most fashionable, act that is strolling leisurely on a road in my evening bestest clothes. I wave hands to people whom I meet in the evening…the people who belong to my social circle…middle class people, working hard to gain entry to the next band-width of town elites! Sometimes, when I go for a walk…a long walk, towards side roads, I see, almost, everyday some young boys running up and down the hilly roads surrounding Hamirpur. These boys were neither fashionable to look at, nor were obese…so why the hell they were running and panting like dogs while traversing a few kilometers of running. I saw them every day, every single day. Running. Bewildered, I asked one of them why were they running. What was the purpose or the goal? Was it some ensuing marathon that they were preparing for? “Marathon?” “What is that?” Asked one of the boys who had stopped to answer my query. I could see plain innocence writ large on his face. He might have been seventeen years of age. His face glistened in sweat. I didn’t care to answer his question and put another question to him, “Why are you running?” His face expressed excitement and pride. “For army recruitment”. Suddenly I, too, felt a surge of love for nation in my sixty-years-old heart! The boy exclaimed, “I want to join Indian Army!” “All my friend, too, are practicing for the physical test for army recruitment test.” The other boys, too, had stopped to hear what was being talked about. All of them had small stubs of growth on their chin…boys on the threshold of manhood! Eager to join Army, Indian army. “Why don’t you study further?” The teacher in me rose up to propagate “Padho India”! “Where are the jobs?” asked one of them. He was much mature for his age. “I have my young brother and sister to look after”, “if I get recruited in army, they could study”, he added wistfully! Now it was the mother in me that was awakened, “are you not afraid of wars and being killed?” “No” ,he replied. “I would fight the enemies and become famous like Vikram Batra!” His chest seemed to swell with pride. I was relieved and happy. Walking back to the coziness and warmth of my home, I forgot all about this small conversation.
But, today when I listened to the gory and cowardly killing of our Army personnel in Uri, I thought of so many young boys aspiring to join army. What those young boys might be thinking of? Would I see those boys still running on the dusty roads with the same zeal as I had seen them some days ago? Come on India! Wake up and give a fitting reply. Our young boys need an action and not high-power-deliberations in the name of politics. We are simple people and need simple answer…simple and straight…hitting the target straight and swift!