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Padmawati was all dressed up for the occasion- a red saree with an equally red blouse and a small ghunghat that carefully covered the charm of her dark face. A small nose ring which curved and curled into a nathuri stuck on to her right nostril. The two artificial garnets of her nathuri glittered in the sunlight. Three blackish-grey tattoo dots adorned her well chiseled chin. The three dots configured on the chin like the ‘therefore’ sign- an expression of conclusion! A conclusion which is mathematically drawn and inferred.

Her big beautiful eyes looked bigger within the boundaries of the jet-black kohl which was applied uncaringly. Her hair was neatly done. The central parting was dead central and it prominently displayed a red line of commitment. She had spring in her strides and a determination in her voice. Her tall frame cast a dark silhouette as she walked against the orange sun of that winter morning. She had an amusing look, the one that children have when they see a bewildering trick of a magician! She giggled and talked. Her voice had the innocence of life. She was surrounded by an equally enthusiastic crowd, which was as conclusive as the ‘therefore’ tattoo on her chin. They were similarly determined and equally mesmerizing. Their clenched fists rose in unison, pumping the air as if to break the sky or may be to snuff off the sun. Her careless charm and the determined will made her the queen that she was/is- Padmawati, the Queen.

This was her conclusion like the therefore sign, mathematical and precise. She walked with the three hundred thousand farmers who thronged the Ram Lila ground in Delhi demanding a waiver of their slayer loans. But no one cared for her parched lips and the malnourished baby who stuck to her bosom sucking the last remnants of liquid hope. No television channel covered her, no newspaper showed her pictures and ironically no Sena demanded justification of her wretched being or the correctness of the sad history she bore on her soul! She was the ‘therefore’ which we all need to conclude and decide. Since she and the likes exist, ‘therefore’ we need to stop and ponder- where do we want to take this nation of Padmawatis?

Prof. Shah Alam Khan, AIIMS, New Delhi (Views are Personal)

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