Dear Rani Lakshmi Bai,
Most people won’t write to you because you are not only dead but you have been dead for more than a 100 years.
But I have to.
You, Queen of Jhansi, leader of men, I want you to know that poems have been written about you, children sing songs about you, and even today, women like me, take your name and get courage to do what they must.
Our land is free and colonialism is passe. You faced mighty cannons and loaded guns with bows and arrows. You challenged the Annexation Policy whereby your home was grabbed by the army, invoking Doctrine of Lapse a law, which said, as woman you could not rule (a joke nah, since it was probably signed by queen Victoria or Elizabeth) and neither could your son because he was only 5 years old. You started the freedom movement for our country and today I started my freedom journey. Your oppressors were white Firengis and mine have the same color as my skin but justice is for every color, caste and creed. You proved that.
Last night, I breathed your name, took my baby, hid my silver anklets and gold necklace in a pouch, packed food for 3 days and quietly, slipped out of the backdoor.
I am hiding out in the forest now. Who can I talk to? Not the elder women – they uphold the old ways, accustomed to unhappiness. Not Sarpanch, community justice-arbitrator – he would side with my husband. Not my mother – she would only cry which saps my determination.
While baby sleeps I await dawn. It may not be as exciting as jumping off the castle ramparts with baby tied to your back but I am wearing my husband’s clothes, just like you, dressed as a man. I have already braided my hair and hid it under a turban (thank the lord for those -no need to cut my hair). just like you. Tell me, should I paint on a mustache? Did you?
For the first time I am happy. Surely, we will meet in heaven – maybe tomorrow if they catch me or maybe in 50 years if they don’t. Let’s see.
Till we meet – wish me god bless!
Writing 101: To Whom it May Concern
Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.