BY Ankit Chandra
Somewhere in June three of us, Asad (childhood friend) , Anshit (my bro) and I went on a trip to Amritsar. There were 3 places that we wanted to visit : Jallian Wala Bagh, Golden Temple and Wagah Border. I will concentrate on the Jallian Wala Bagh for this post…
For all us who don’t know what Jallian wala Bagh stands for, click here.
Amritsar is a very cute city. pretty much like the other small cities across the country, where shops are usually small, the roads only as big as 2 by lanes, the streets even smaller yet all so vivid and colourful! full of life… kids playing across the streets, cars and scooters fighting yet maneuvering within the available space… there seems to be a very highly developed code of driving that seems to have evolved from this specifc eco-system of traffic. It might look very chaotic, but look carefully, and u wd see all vehicles just missing each other! only that it is not by chance, but the skills of the driver.
We were walking through these roads and by lanes, looking at the shops and their interactions with the world outside… we were looking at these buildings that have stood there for 100 odd years staring at the world and its changing ways, testimony to the changes and corruption of its inhabitants.. there was definitely this feel about these buildings.. they looked like these time warped things that were half stuck in past and the other half existing very much in this world with us. I felt that if we went into these buildings we would all of a sudden be transferred to a time that was long gone! Such was the eerie attraction of these buildings that you could do nothing but gaze at them, and then gather your self and keep moving ahead…
But one such building’s entrance kinda held us. unusually colored, it somewhat melted into its surroundings, yet stood out as something that had a totally different story to tell. As we gazed around the building, we saw the board that read ” JALLIANWALA BAGH”.
Pretty much like hypnotised souls, we almost floated into it… The entry to this place has forever remained as it is, and is nothing more than a very narrow passage… When we walked through it, it struck me that this was the very passage that General Dyer used to enter into the premises, and much to my disbelief, he also tried to bring in a battle tank!
I don’t know if the pictures running in my head were from the movie Gandhi, or I could actually recreate the scene from 1919, but I could pretty much actually feel the soldiers walking through this passage.. with rifles in their hands, marching in, bringing death closer to the people inside who were totally unaware… What also struck me at that point was that the soldiers were Indian ( although working for the British) and the people inside were the same flesh and blood too!
If you remember any movie that was based on some flash back concept, try using that ‘blackout and reemergence of a picture’ stuff of a flashback to this case. Thats what I saw when I waled into the Bagh ( the Garden) where the massacre had happened. It looked like a very peaceful garden, kids were playing here too! sprawling lawns, fountains, people walking around…. this place actually looked very calm… Only that this calm prevailed not from peace, but from silencing of hundreds of lives… people like me, like you… like the shop keeper outside or the co-passenger in train with whom we played cards on our route to Amritsar… If for a second we forget the 88 years of time gap, you would feel that those people were just… us…
A lot of us were killed there that day.
The calm there indeed felt like the one on a battle field after the battle finishes and there is no one left alive… to cry or to howl… As we moved inside there were these places that stand as a snapshot of that day, that time. There was this well into which people jumped to save themselves from the raining bullets from their own brethren who were just ‘following orders’ of their masters. More than the people killed, it was them who were enslaved by the British. The well has been covered since then.
There was another thing that had stood as a witness to what had happened that day. A Wall. Now standing all alone, as if it was punished to first witness the whole massacre and then made to live for eternity to keep remembering that bloodshed and narrate it to all with the bullet marks strewn all over it.
Just near to this Wall was a writing made of stones that read “Vande Mataram’… And it was then that all of this fell more or less into place. The only way we can respect those who died that day is by believing in these words that lay there with the souls of all those who still could be around there watching the world outside just like those buildings as I had described earlier.. staring at the world and its changing ways, testimony to the changes and corruption of its inhabitants…
- Where History and Devotion are on Display (livechaat.wordpress.com)