Without Fear

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I am not ashamed to admit that I'm afraid of death. It suffocates me when I encounter it around me. Even a bird dangling from the jaws of a jubilant dog depresses me, let alone the knowledge of people dying in my family.

The issue with my fear is that I can't ever win it. In the fight between me and death I will always have to bow down. But, to me, it is a matter of how I will surrender rather than when. If I am being taken, I want to be at peace with it. I want to be in control. That is how I'll be satisfied and not die with a painful heartache.

The troubling part of this fear is that it grows with time. I constantly feel like I'm not happy. There are so many faces smiling at me and yet this feeling gnaws at me. I always keep pondering over how I can make sure I leave something substantial behind me. Even if it touches one life, I feel I'll have fulfilled my purpose.

Today is the year I'm turning twenty-three. This is also the year that I read a book about a man who was happy when he kissed the rope that was going to hang him to death when he was only twenty-three. And all the time I was reading it I had this question burning in my head, 'How could he do it?'

It'll be safe to record here that I found the answer to this question even before I finished reading the book. I found it in the ideas expressed by him. He was clear and honest about what he wanted to do and he knew his death would be a milestone. Obviously he underestimated the importance of it because here's a guy of his age writing about him eighty-four years after his final plan kicked off!

Bhagat Singh, the name that would sent a small shiver down your spine once you read the book cover to cover, was a revolutionary with one ambition. It wasn't freeing India from the tyranny of the British. That was only a small idea contained in his larger vision. He wanted to make India independent. He suspected that even though the British left the country in peace, it still wouldn't be able to keep both its feet on the ground.

He had an incessant hunger for knowledge. It is astounding how much he read even when he was in the middle of a hunger strike holed up in a prison. What kind of man gains an upper-hand over such distressing conditions and find time to read, think and write down their ideas when there's hopelessness around them? That in the age when the youth in today's India is struggling to take another examination that will get them a mind-numbing degree.

It felt gratifying when I learned that Bhagat Singh was an atheist. Imagine the courage it takes to believe that your death, which is only a few months away, will be the end of you. Religion provides relief with the belief that your soul lives on even after your physical body ceases to exist. This is the cake for revolutionaries who are afraid of death. But what cake did our hero have? How could he do it?

Perhaps this is the greatest of mystery that binds me to his story. How could he be so certain that his death will be the best thing to happen to his cause? And when he found a way to be sure, how did he bring himself around to actually do it?

The gift I received on this Martyrs' Day!
Without Fear tells the story of the green mile- Bhagat Singh's walk from the freedom to bomb assemblies to to the gallows that silence him. Throughout the book there is a eerie silence. I read it with my teeth grinding against each other. I could feel my rage surging through me. And I kept asking myself time to time, 'Could I have done this?'

I think it became easier for him once he made peace with his priorities. Though, it would be insulting to try to understand him, I would really like to believe that he was one of us. Someone who wanted something so bad that he could end his life to achieve it. He'd like to burn it in the face of the humanity that would survive him and show them how it's done. He'd really, really love having the last word.

But, again, this assessment could be wrong because he transcends hate, love or anger. He is a revolutionary and he couldn't spare such feelings. That would dumb him down to a terrorist who is driven by vengeance and not logic.

It is an educational exercise to study this man. If you read his thoughts penned down himself, you'd start wondering if you really like Gandhi's idea of non-violence. The strength in his belief makes you doubt if there is a right side to the never-ending debate of violence versus non-violence. That is the power of logic. It makes you pick sides ensuring that you never turn. It brings out your true self and spells it out for you.

I think if it's highly recommended in our society to read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, it must be equally vital to read a book on any of the revolutionaries. That is the true way to find your freedom.

Coming back to me, I think I'll read more about what Bhagat Singh has written, instead of reading about him. I want to find how I will ever find something that'll make me smile as I go down. That is the true way to find my liberation.