Running 101 temperature, bad throat and an utterly confused mind.
This was me the night before I started for Surat to join the walk. A walk that reached Gujarat after having covered over 3000 km of the entire 5500 km distance from Kanyakumari to Delhi. Defying the conventional fears of the parents of a 24-year-old girl, who was planning to walk through a part of India, meet unknown people, sleep and eat at unfamiliar places, I chose to walk.
As kids we have been taught at school that ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Here was a movement that was actually trying to `implement’ it. When Abdul Mujeeb Khan, the lead of Honest Steps walk and my mentor shared his decision to walk for over 5000 km to pursue his purpose of building an honest, corruption-free nation, I was baffled. I asked him one hundred questions. His answer was simple. “I don’t know any other way. If I dream of a better country, I have to take the responsibility to build it as well.”
Different Indians with a similar perspective.
Amused at having discovered the meaning of cutting chai (meaning one by two in typical Hyderabadi lingo), my co-walker Uday called out, “Chaar cutting chai dena chacha!” Sipping the hot chai, we started talking about corruption and our role as citizens with this elderly man who owns the tea stall in Por village, Gujarat. Just like we interacted with over 30000 fellow Indians during the walk.
Very soon a group of villagers too joined the conversation and it started heating up. “Brashtachar tho bahut ho gaya iss desh main. Hum kare bhi tho kya kare? Hum majboor hain. Yeh duniya humein imaandar rehne nahin deti!”
If there was one common thread in discussion after discussion, among groups of different socio-economic strata, it was “I have no choice.”
Corruption is more than giving or taking a bribe.
It feels sad to know that our understanding of corruption is limited to bribery alone, while ignoring the fact that many simple things like piracy, jumping a traffic signal, cheating in exams etc are also various forms of corruption that each of us perhaps indulge in, in our daily lives. And we end up pointing an accusing finger at the government without looking within.
This journey has taught me few important lessons – Life always gives us a choice and we ought to choose. And there is no other way to live our choice but to take responsibility for our dreams.
Being honest is difficult. But I have made my choice. Towards a better nation. Towards a better SELF.