There is a lady who stands outside Arts Faculty these days and speaks continuously for an hour or two in the area around the statue. Her long monologues in Hindi are usually diatribes against the state of the world. The first time I heard her, she was speaking on the topic of corruption - this was around the time of the Ramlila protests. On other occasions, I have heard her speak on the television ("idiot box"), on family values and the youth. She doesn't use a microphone, or any other gadgets for that matter - she brings along with her a huge poster, which is placed right next to where she's standing, and starts speaking extempore to an imagined audience. More often than not, she attracts a small crowd of students, one or two at most. She dresses in a simple, dull sari and doesn't wear any jewellery.
Her voice carries far and her gestures and facial expressions are dramatic. She seems unfazed by the people around her, or lack thereof, and her eyes are always wide and fiery, alight with her forceful words and brisk and harsh hand movements. The first time I heard her speak, she concluded with the words, "Let me fight this battle alone, but fight I will!" ("Mein is jung mein akeli hi sahi, par mein ladte hi rahoogi!")
She is an anomaly. People are bewildered by her and stare as they slowly walk past the gate. As she speaks, she looks into the eyes of those passing by but without pausing, without being affected by the indifference or curiosity she may find there.
I find her very brave. I find her ability to come and speak at a place like this, day after day, with nothing but her dramatic will, quite amazing. Why is she here? Why does she do it? She is a relic from the past. She appears to me to have stepped out of my mind's picture of the colonial period, delivering loud and unembarrassed harangues in the middle of the street, fiery speeches against racist oppression.