Home they brought the Warrior dead

I had been for Balasaheb's funeral. Could see all the swarming crowds and the cortege at Shivaji Park and Shiv Sena Bhawan the full day. Went on impulse. The experience was powerful. I know all of us have read a lot since his demise. There are pics and articles praising him and debasing him and his ideology. Some newspapers who support the Congress Goverment have tried to put his funeral as a family rift story. But you saw the pictures and a picture is worth a thousand words. In our times, we have never seen a crowd like this. In the morning, I thought this was the party workers and each reaching to please his immediate boss in the party. Alas, I was wrong. This was not the crowd of slum dwellers or goons or villagers. This crowd was of Mumbaikars. People like you and me who wanted to see him. There were no celebrities in the crowd so the throng of people was all for Balasaheb.

My Dhobi said he feels like the protective umbrella is ripped away from his head. This is the loose translation of what he spoke in Hindi. He is a North Indian. He lives amongst North Indians who are Muslims and Hindus. He was saved in 1993 by the Sainiks and feels they provided the safety net to Mumbai. I completely agree with him. I would have never come to Bombay from Dhanbad if I had got good education in my hometown. I would have gone back to work if I had good job opportunities in Bihar or West Bengal. We did not have Jharkhand at that time. My parents sent me to study in Mumbai and not Delhi or Calcutta because Mumbai is a safe place for women. I give full credit to Mumbaikars which was represented by Shiv Sena, for a safe Mumbai. I know the electoral numbers give a different story and Shiv Sena is loosing its political clout etc. I can tell you that I was there and I saw the people. Not a single dry eye in the crowds. The pin drop silence during the prayer which was chanted before the Agni daah or lighting of the pyre , spoke volumes. The space of leadership was so powerful. All writeups about the temporary truce between cousins was crap. If you saw each member of the family sobbing, you would realise the place he had in each one's heart. The newspapers have their own axe to grind and the reporting can be with the heart or keeping the politics of Mumbai and the Centre in mind.

I also want to share the dignity with which the Chief Minister and all the politicians sat throught the funeral. There was no chit chatting and no checking of mobile phones, no secretaries rushing with urgent messages or tea or water. This was a strictly family affair and no one was doing anything for the cameras. In his death, Balasaheb has proved how large his family is. Salute!!!


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