Staring at the TV screen, I asked myself if this was what I had intended. I had not. Violence was not in my mind when I had made the speech on campus. The phone rang again. Picking it up, I turned off the vibration notification. I didn’t want to speak to anyone.
Looking around, I realized no one wanted to meet my eye. Everyone was busy doing something. Some were on the phones, a few were on their laptops. Did they think I had intentionally caused this? I didn’t want to look into their eyes. Why did I feel guilty? Had I subconsciously wanted students to protest? I had gone to the college to simply share what I felt with the students. When I had spoken about farmer deaths in the area, I did not want to make a political statement. Politics was not on my mind, humanity was. But even I could not deny that my passions had gotten the better of me. As I spoke to those students, I had forgotten how impressionable they were. When I had spoken about protests, I had not meant violence. Or did they sense the anger inside me? Had that somehow come through? Had my anger sparked theirs?
I had gone to the college as a social worker. Not a political anarchist. But I had left in my wake the impact of my ideas. Children had let their protests turn violent after being influenced with my words. What was I thinking!
Suddenly there was a hush in the room. I looked up and noticed Babasaheb walk up to me. He sat down beside me on the sofa. The tears came uninvited and I hurriedly looked down to hide them from him. All his life he had spoken of non-violence and I, his dear protégé, what had I done! ”I am sorry,” I whispered. “I never intended this to happen. I never thought it would…”
Placing his hand on my shoulder, Babasaheb spoke slowly. “You remember I have always told you that what we think affects everyone? We are never alone in experiencing the effects of our thoughts. You did not want this to happen, but your thoughts were violent in nature. You were not hoping for the farmer’s good as you spoke, you were angry about what you felt was bad. The students felt that anger, not your desire to help. Anyways, let this go for now. Go home and rest,” he said getting up. “I will manage things now.”
Babasaheb’s words rested heavily on my heart. He had always insisted we learn to remove violence from every aspect of lives. I stood up to leave, the lesson etched hard in my mind now. I could not change the past. But I would be aware now in the future that I was never alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.