One day can feel like a week. Or a lifetime. From a lecture on disability in India for 80 wide-eyed, open-minded British Poppets to a walk down Tolstoy Lane to the Ram Lila grounds where Anna Hazare was holding forth to thousands of supporters. From a visit to the cardiac ward of Max Super Speciality Hospital to check in on a dear friend who just had triple by-pass surgery to the wedding reception of another dear friend’s son. And finally, to a seedy room at the Delhi YMCA, shared with the golden Olivia – our volunteer for the past five weeks and leaving for England the next night.
All in one day.
I also got my hair cut.
And from morning till night, at every possible opportunity, I asked people what they thought about Anna. It seemed appropriate to think about corruption in so many different situations because that’s exactly how corruption works. It is laced into every move we make, intertwined in every encounter, enmeshed in our relationships, our thoughts, our beliefs and our expectations.
And the drama of my day: a man snatched back from the abyss, a young couple embarking on their new life as a couple, a golden girl at the height of her beauty and imagination, 80 bright young things hanging on my stories, thousands upon thousands hanging on Anna’s – seemed to underscore that truth.
Our actions, our decisions, though individual and isolated, add up and accrue. Corruption, like Original Sin, infests us. It shatters our trust, destroys our integrity and changes all that is good and honest and hopeful into suspicion, cowering and fear.
To a person, the men and women I spoke with expressed unqualified support for Anna. They were rickshaw drivers, security guards, clerks and policemen. Passionate, sometimes tearful support, yet tempered with the realism of their own lifelong struggles: “It won’t work.” they said. “Who’s going to listen?”
I got my hair cut yesterday too. While it was being sheared away (how quickly hair grows! yet how quickly it can be removed!) the man wielding the scissors spoke from his heart about his dreams for his children and his frustration at the hurdles being placed in their way. “Anna is for all of us,” he said. “He is for my children. He is for their future. He is for India.”
It’s easy to poke holes in Anna’s approach. There are many flaws. But he has tapped into the collective anger and dissent and has channelled the rage into a positive movement for change. No one else has done so. I felt the power of his leadership when I went to Ram Lila yesterday. I am not Anna. But I am Anna’s younger sister and I am proud to count myself as a supporter of his campaign. No one else has done what he has. No one else has even come close.