Change is the only constant and all idioms describing the improbability of happenings, fall flat when we witness events that never seemed to be in the realm of remote possibility. That’s the first thought that occurred to me when I saw the short stocky man with his hair all over the place use his high- pitched voice to sing platitudes in praise of a saint against a temple backdrop. The anchor of a popular television channel in a silk saree stood by his side, hands folded and seemingly lost in devotion herself, as the spectacle unfolded. None would have imagined that Gaddar, the poet, revolutionary balladeer, activist and former Naxalite known for his rousing songs of rebellion would sing “Ramanujam, Jaya Ramanujam” but there he was doing just that as people watching him shook their heads in disbelief. It’s not just the awesome statue of Saint Ramanuja in Hyderabad being called the “Statue of Equality” that is holding our attention, but the voice of the avowed rebel and class enemy singing peans. Is Gaddar, born Gummadi Vittal Rao in the grip of a 360- degree transformation? Is this video an indication of a new spiritual avatar? Has the former member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) who took a bullet in his spine in a failed assassination attempt in 1997 gravitated towards spirituality?

I remember the times in the mid- nineties when we went to his heavily fortified home in Alwal where his people guarded the premises with a hawk’s eye and intelligence personnel in mufti stood outside at a safe distance observing visitors. The minute we came out with our crew, the intelligence guys would quiz us about the contents of our interview. There was an air of secrecy, conspiracy and fear typical to places that had people impassioned with ideology that hung heavily in this place. A vast change has been witnessed since those times. Active in the movement till 2010, Gaddar became a votary of separate statehood identifying with the poor and downtrodden who he felt would benefit from a separate state. With that issue resolved too, the rebel perhaps has found commonality with the saint who rebelled against caste inequalities and propagated ‘Vishishtadavaita’ to all without discrimination.

That brings us back to where we began. Never say never, anything is possible and change is the only thing that remains unchanged with time.