No, it wasn’t elitist (only the elite are saying that). No, it wasn’t just journalists. It wasn’t celebrity driven or foregrounded (but the TV people were keen on focusing on the 4/5 actors present). I’ll tell you what it was. It was a low, dense, dark sky spilling its guts out. It was a flooded road with over a foot of stagnating water (which probably deserves its own little protest).
It was initially about a dozen people, then about fifty, and then a hundred and then I could no longer see. It was manjiras and a drum. And it was Dushyant Kumar’s very apt poem: Ho gayi hai peer parvat si, pighalni chahiye/ Iss Himalaya se koi Ganga nikalni chaiye… Sirf hungama khada karna mera maqsad nahin/ Meri koshish hai ke ye soorat badalni chahiye.
Others who joined later say there were 500, maybe more. It rained steadily. We got drenched. We shared umbrellas. We sang along. We clapped. We hugged those we knew. We smiled at some whom we did not know. We reached out.
I do not know if this will grow into anything else. I do not know if even one single person who is not already yelling ‘notinmyname’ will be persuaded to join in. But if there is nothing else, this is still the best thing that’s happened in the city in a long time.
To stand there singing in a hard rain, with nearly a dozen cops in bright yellow raincoats looking on (and a cop filming us as we just stood there in civilised fashion). One guy held up a sign that said: “Bring back the love”.
It may have been a sense of anger and sadness that brought us there, but it was love that held us there. Some critics are right in saying that this sort of showing up for the day is not enough. Indeed, it is not enough. What we will need to do is to put out good words more often. Change the narrative everyday. Challenge hate everywhere. We will also have to replace it with love.