I looked at the banners I was making:
We want Freedom of speech!
We want Freedom to Speak!
We want Freedom of Expression!
All banners for the next march, morcha or protest against the government. Then I heard a sound and from across my room heard muffled sobs and saw a man in a lecture’s garb coming across to me, “What’s wrong?” I asked.
He pointed to the inside of his mouth and I realized there was no tongue.
“Government did that?” I asked and watched him nodding in affirmation.
“Terrible!” I said, “We must organize a morcha. Get a banner ready, have a candle light vigil, against those two in the centre!”
He shook his head. “You don’t want protests? You don’t want me to hold a banner and get your tongue back?” I asked.
He nodded affirmatively and I got ready to show him a poster, denouncing the government, “This government seems to be slicing everybody’s tongue off!” I said irritably and watched as he shook his head in disagreement. “No, you need to shake your head up and down!” I said gently, “It will take you time to learn sign language now that you have no tongue!”
I got down to selecting the poster for him, when I heard another sound from afar, and found the tongueless man running to the window and beckoning someone up. It was a woman, and as I heard her sounds, I realized she had a tongue, but was still in pain after it had been stitched back.
“So you also lost your tongue for a while?” I asked her and she nodded.
“You also can have a banner against the ruling party at the centre!” I said and found both the man and woman shaking their heads negatively.
“You don’t want a banner?” I asked and found both of them nodding that they wanted one.
I got up from my banner making and went to the speech-less two, “You want a banner, but you don’t want a banner? Maybe you two should take lessons on how to express yourselves!” I watched startled as the woman and the man grabbed the paint brush from my hand, and wrote something on the banner on the ground, “Down, Down Congress!” I read, “But why?” I asked and found them both telling me in sign language it was the Congress who had cut off both their tongues.
“Yours was cut off in Rajasthan?” I asked the girl, “And yours in Mumbai for saying something against Rahul and the Gandhi family?” I asked the man who I realized was a lecturer.
I heard a wail from West Bengal, and before hearing that Mamata had also done the same, I threw my banners away, realizing that every party that came to power, having no idea what freedom of expression meant, ruled with a pair of scissors..!(Published on 20th January 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 04)