discovering bombay in mumbai… part 2
the gateway of india.
i have been there many times… walked by, read the carved words on the top ‘built to commemorate king george V’s trip to india’… stood under the shade as i waited for my ferry to alibaug or elephanta caves… read about it the news when a girl was molested on new years’ eve…
this was remnant of the past, of another time that i had not lived in, or even experienced through my parents. it was of a time before mine, of a time when india was a british colony. while as any citizen of a ‘ruled country’ it irks me to think about that period of our history, it didn’t really affect me or my life. a beautiful monument, nonetheless, grand and special due to its architectural style.
so it stayed for many years… just another ‘leftover’ architectural monument of the british raj!
in my hunt for information while writing the script for the audio tour, i found myself going deeper into the gateway, its history and its significance! what struck me most was what it stood for in our freedom struggle.
it was the point where the last british ship with the last british troops left india!
and i knew then that it wasn’t just any other harbour, any other port, any other bandar… !
i try to transport myself into that day on the 28th of february 1948! on that last day, there are people standing and watching the last ship sale. every little piece of land crowded, people all but pouring into the sea, like the rats following the piped piper?
the last march, the last salute, and the somerset light infantry boards the ship, and the ships sets sail…
what then? did my people wave their good byes? did they dance? what was that moment like.
it would have been one of the most defining moments for all those who participated in the freedom movement. it would have been like watching your captor open the gates of your prison and then walk away. and you could then do whatever you wanted.
60 more years later, standing under that 15 feet arch, i want to relive those moments. the exuberance, joy… so did they dance? shout? scream? were they calm. did they disperse immediately or did they stay and chat? what did it feel like to reclaim something that was yours to begin with?