Pravartika Wankhede

India

16-a lot on my mind

Message to Readers

I'm in love with my city, and I think it is largely because there still lurk the ghosts of a lavish and grand past around me. I've wanted to, since forever, desperately wanted to go back to the India I've never known and witness the grandeur up-close and personal. Please comment, leave your reviews- I value them more than anything, and like and shower your love. Find me on Instagram @slowlikepseudo
Love always,
Pravartika Wankhede

The Colony Called India

May 18, 2020

PROMPT: Farsick

5
//Hard her service, poor her payment//
-Rudyard  Kipling (Christmas in India)


The yellow sturdy basalt that severs the polluted Bombay air is inscribed proudly with the words-"Erected to commemorate the landing in India of their imperial majesties, George V and Queen Mary on the second of December MCMXI." It is the Gateway Of India, the gateway to what was, once, the proudest possession of the vast British empire. The first glimpse of India that the firangis, the foreigners-who'd left behind quiet countrysides and safe hills- would catch. 

The officers who first came, came for adventure- to cross the rocky terrains through unbearably hot days, in dreams of becoming rulers and minting gold, to hunt Bengal tigers and ride elephants. They came for the adrenaline and the hopes of glory. Harsh reality collided with them and before the young men of barely 25 knew, they were solely responsible for handing out justice to areas larger than Scotland. The English-estranged from their country and thrown into a wild land- took extraordinary measures to convert their lives in India into their lives in England. Flamboyant parties at mansions with ballrooms 80 feet long were thrown, lavish cricket fields were lush green grass were built and a new social order was firmly established. No Indian was invited or allowed to these pieces of English heaven, where the families of the officers resided. Of course, India, true to its legends, killed them in curious ways.  No one was immune. Even the wife of India's first Viceroy, Lady Canning, living in her palace seemingly beyond the reach of India's microbes, contracted jungle fever and died in 1861. Death by being gored by tropical animals, or bitten by strange insects and by epidemics was everyday. India's climate was cruel and unpredictable and people died in hordes. 
The rajahs, the local rulers led lives of excess. They had more money than they knew what to do with and, usually, more wives than stars in the sky. There were rounds of parades, polo games, tiger hunts, moonlit rides on elephants, tea dances, banquets and receptions of unsurpassed elegance, proffered unknowingly by the poverty-striken masses. The masses were ever-hungry, ever-poor people who had no politics and were being suppressed under centuries of suffocating monarchy even before the British started their policy of conquest in the late 18th century. It would only end after the British left India in 1947, after two centuries of their rule in India. They would be free.

I miss this India-the one I'd never gotten to know up close except in historical records. I live in Civil Lines (Every city under the British had its own Civil Lines, usually located in the heart of that city where only the Britishers resided), the old British houses painted red and white still stand(now occupied by honored jurists and civil servants), and not far from my house, there once, long decades ago, stood a plaque which declared- "No Indians and dogs allowed." 

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  • May 18, 2020 - 3:59am (Now Viewing)

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5 Comments
  • ElsaRee

    simply wonderful! The closing was very powerful!


    5 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    Replying: Yay, thank you, I'll email you in bit, you can delete the comment now


    7 months ago
  • joella

    history is definitely not my strong point but this is amazing!


    7 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    Replying: Thank you for your comment, it really made my day! I'm so sorry, but i'm not allowed to have ig, so i won't be able to dm you. But can we e-mail or something instead? I'd love to exchange ideas!


    7 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    Wow, as something of a history buff myself, i love this piece! I totally get wanting to back to visit the grandeur of the past.


    7 months ago