Gandhi, Gus, and Renewal (Gandhian Philosophy)

Anita Nahal

By Anita Nahal

This poem is inspired by a 2021 American Netflix drama series, Sweet Tooth based on Jeff Lemire’s comic series. In it, hybrids of human and animals attempt to save themselves from pure humans. Gus is the main character in Sweet Tooth. The poem is also inspired by both the Walt Disney movie adaptation and the original, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (1894). Kaa, Baloo, Sher Khan, Bagheera and Mowgli are characters from The Jungle Book.

 

Everywhere there’s a weird artificial jungle. Under, around, skirting tween, and on our bodies too. Sometimes naked and weeping. The bodies. Or maybe the jungle, which looks too exact. Too perfect. Is it utopia or dystopia? Depends on us. Sirens screech. People scream. Things thud, thump, jingle, roam, romp and mingle. And destinies go in a loop. Watching from the clouds, Gandhi went visiting in his loved loin cloth carrying an Ahmisa* placard. But no one was there. Just burnt trees, buildings, and cars covered with ash, soot, tears, salt, sugar, and some water droplets. He takes a bit of the salt, sugar and water and mixes, and places in a knot at the end of his loin cloth. Trudges on.

From somewhere, Kaa could be heard:

“Do you know, I can eat your khadi cloth, you, and all

One gulp of you

Smug about nonviolence, that is you

One simple morsel, that’s all it will take

To have you in my tummy bake

You, your khadi cloth, and all.”

Gandhi retorted, “You don’t have enough might to eat me. My nonviolence will give you diarrhea.”

Baloo chuckling, sighing could be heard, in his deep baritone,

“And there you have it, Gandhi. Kaa is crazy…crazy, crazy tizzy

To eat you and the man-cub and pretend he’s busy

Let is seem all is bright, blaring, and glitzy

When nothing’s left to be balmy

Nothing that’s cheerful and summery

And there you have it, Gandhi. Kaa’s crazy…crazy, crazy, tizzy.”

Sher Khan roars, Bagheera laughs with Mowgli on his back. And Gandhi runs towards a light. Under a tiny tent sat Gus with a torch, shivering, ears upright at the sound of steps. Shadows loom large. Of Gandhi, Martin, Mandela. And of our ancestors. And of all the souls died in road accidents, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, killed in wars, riots, murdered, raped, disease killed, or hung themselves. Gus barely lifts the tent and Gandhi’s tears fall on his deer like nose and onto the parched Earth below. ORS** from the knot in his loin cloth falls too. All disappear. A new leaf is soon seen blowin’ in the wind***.

 

*Ahimsa: Non-violence

**ORS: Oral rehydration solution

***Blowin’ in the wind is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1962 BIO

Bio: Anita Nahal is a Pushcart Prize-nominated Indian American author and professor. She teaches at the University of the District of Columbia, Washington DC. Anita has one novel, four poetry books, four for children and five edited anthologies to her credit among others. Her third poetry book, What’s wrong with us Kali women? (Kelsay, 2021) and her novel, Drenched Thoughts (Authorspress, 2023) are prescribed as mandatory reading in a course on Multicultural Society at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Anita is the daughter of Sahitya Akademi award-winning Indian novelist, Late Dr. Chaman Nahal, and educationist Late Dr. Sudarshna Nahal.

 www.anitanahal.com

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