You feel sad to see a Lion when it is old and sick. Because, you always thought, that the Lion was the ‘King’ – the ruler. You were so used to its might, power and roar. You silently adored it… even though its very thoughts, sometimes, sent shivers through your spine!
Yes, you always wanted the Lion to be strong, and dominating.
The sight of a sagging Lion – a helpless ruler – is too painful to see... You really feel sad for the King!
Balasaheb Thackeray is old and very ill, now. It is painful to see him, this way.
Mr. Thackeray had been a roaring Lion – yes, call Tiger, if you wish – and, he had never ceased to dominate, rule… Most of us might not have liked or agreed with his kind of politics, his kind of justice… But, that’s how he had been all through his life: Straight forward… Call a spade a spade. Period.
In a world so full of pretense, to rule the psyche of the masses with such bluntness and directness, is something only Balasaheb could pull off!
I never understand politics… and, do not agree with the way the politicians, often, go about conducting their affairs. But, I have always admired individual politicians – the leaders… irrespective of their ideologies, party-ethos and whether they are running or opposing the government.
Balasaheb was one of them.
All that I can write and say is from what I have read about him, or seen on TV. I think, that’s enough for me to form my own opinion about him.
I loved him for his honesty and integrity with what he believed in.
I loved him for his leadership qualities.
I loved him for his straight-forward approach for every issue;
I loved him for the power he exuded; the control he weaned… the awe he inspired.
I loved him for dealing with his kin and kith with the same measure as he measured others… His son, Jaidev, for example. While, he threw out of the house his own son (for his unfaithful ways), Balasaheb chose to adopt his daughter-in-law, Smita Thackeray, even after the divorce!. This is something rare and remarkable!
Raj Thackeray, swears, that he would never ever say a single word against his uncle… no matter how much he is provoked. This speaks volumes for what kind of man his idol Balasaheb is… and, what the young nephew looks for in the patriarch!
I loved the fearlessness…
I loved this self-made man... of steely substance!
And, when I say all these, please remove the ‘colored glasses’ you wear. Let me tell you this: like you, I, too, do not like a hundred things about Balasaheb, his party or politics. But, just to filter what is good – great – in a man who stood there like a solid rock for decades – please allow me to say what I want to. Please read, without judging him!
The Lion is too weak to roar… too meek to rule!
I read in the newspapers, that, yesterday, three ‘special people’ had called on the sinking leader…
His son, Jaidev. I was moved by this gesture! The ailing father wanted to make peace with his ‘Prodigal son’… So, it was the father who wanted to see his son!
Raj Thackeray, the nephew. We know, that this young leader would keep alive the formidable Thackeray-legacy… I was very happy to see this re-union on the bedside!
Finally, Chhagan Bhujbal. Some eighteen years ago, this man had ‘betrayed’ his mentor, and badly… Yes, he was there, perhaps, to say - what the hearts, deep down, always wanted to - “I am sorry”!
Well, even though I do not know what they actually said to each other – I am still touched by the visits of these three men at Balasaheb’s home.
I am, very sure, the Lion –
who is all mellowed down now –
in the hour of his sunset!
Today, I admire him even more – for being what he is!
“Hang on there, sire… May the shadow loom larger as far as it can!
Pics.: Denzil Pais