Happy Birthday Bapu. White had a special significance in your life, like the White of khadi that you spun tirelessly. But we’ve improved upon it. Promise. Lemme tell you.
Bapu, your khadi wasn’t quite as White as it is now.
It had some yellow, as it turned with the sweat from your brow!!
Your White, Bapu, from a wheel was spun
Today manufacturing it is much more fun.
Your truth. Was White.
Your salt. Was White.
Ba’s sari. Was White.
Hell. Even our rulers were White.
But those were dark days Bapu, because might was Right.
But you’ll be thrilled to know today even might is White
White Ambassador cars,
And White corporate czars.
They look dirty brown but I swear
Within, they’re whiter than Manmohanji’s hair.
White ghosts haunt the corridors of power
White Khadi clad, in their White ivory tower
White shines from starched kurta-pajama backed scams
On kerchiefs and White caps and White water dams.
In the Whiteness of pearly Whites on poster grinning faces.
On dead or near dead White powder-lined faces.
They have a thing called a “White paper” for all political needs
And on these White papers a whole bureaucracy feeds.
And also Bapu, Your oppressive Empire’s White was sallow and pale
Our rulers are far Whiter on the Whiteness scale.
The Brits had to deal with Delhi Belly and upset tummies
But ours are well fed, and well kept and hearty and hale
Even black money is White,
It can get like that overnight
Scrubbed clean by financial instruments abroad
Totally secular coz money is God.
And your noble face adorns every crisp note.
Providing market buoyancy to this sinking boat
The rupee’s sinking (despite the blessing of your smiling face) against the dollar
Triumphs at home have been somewhat smaller.
But let me boast White we are at it.
The Yamuna is white. I wish you could’ve seen it.
Before Sheilaji and her Yamuna action plan can totally clean it.
Effluents and foam rest on its surface, like snow
Give us some time and this Whiteness will grow
Like a White frothing washing machine that’s cursed.
Isn’t this Bapu, where your ashes were immersed?
Or was it the Ganga? But you’d be thrilled to know that’s pretty white as well.
The water ebbs every summer but the noxious waste swells.
And while we’re on the bank of a river, remember in your time
The culmination of the Dandi march on a beach was totally your prime
An Empire crumbled as you scooped up White salt in a tiny fist
But now its Whiter, poly-packed, iodised and basically Bapu you get the gist.
So tell me dear Bapu.
Do you admit your khadi wasn’t quite as White as it is today?
And if you could come back, would you have ended it another way?
Ok Bapu. Until next year. When we’ll think of you again, bole toh until the next Munnabhai sequel or Gandhi Jayanti, whatever comes first. All our love to you Bapu.