[I had written these ‘poems’ some years ago. Even though they don’t quite represent my present mood, I have no intention of disowning them. Whatever be their literary evaluation. And whether they are considered literary or not.]
The world lives by hope
So they say
Where exactly is this hope?
In the people around me?
The ones who laugh and are happy?
Those who are ‘United in Joy’?
I see them
But I see potential Nazis
Bribe givers and takers
Oppressors and exploiters
And not just potential ones
It’s done to them
And they do it to others
Persecuted become persecutors
When their chance comes
They don’t do it to those
Who can do it to them
They don’t do it to their partners
No, no, I’m wrong!
They may do it even to their partners
If they can get away with it
It’s not revenge
Because they mostly do it to those
Who didn’t do it to them
Like in Nazi Germany
Like in Israel’s Palestine
Like in the market near your home
Like on the road in front of your office
Like in the place where your child studies
In fact, the learning starts earlier
They laugh and talk stupid
They talk stupid and they laugh
They do it at breakfast
In their homes
On the streets
In the shops
In offices, trains, buses
Bad people talk stupid
Good people talk stupid
Stupid people talk stupid
Intelligent people talk stupid
Stupidity is intelligence
Self-deception is wisdom
Ignorance is knowledge
Because blinkers are jewels
They don’t want to know
But they want to pass judgments
They laugh a great deal
They kill and they laugh
They see killings and they laugh
They torture and they laugh
They see torture and they laugh
They make others’ lives hellish and they laugh
They see people living hellish lives
And they laugh
Rape, oppression, exploitation and laughter
Injustice and laughter
Insincerity and laughter
Indecency and laughter
Dishonesty and laughter
Their humour is not black
It’s happy, healthy, normal and contented
Or it pretends to be
They see poverty and they laugh
They see disease and they laugh
They see all this and they laugh
They also laugh at it
Not just in spite of it
Or they see it
And they don’t see it
Because seeing will interfere with their laughter
They don’t laugh when it’s done to them
But they go back to laughing when it’s not
If they are this way
They may be rewarded
If they are not
They will be punished
With punishments that are like cupboards
Full of rooms and rooms and rooms
You pass your life wandering through them
All this and more laughter
Laughter that is more cruel
Than physical torture
Laughter that is more vulgar
Than any vulgar words
Laughter that can make you want to kill
Laughter that is the music of the soul
(What kind of souls give out such music?)
Laughter that is the best medicine
Laughter that is God’s sunshine
This makes me laugh
Is laughter then hope?
I see them again
And I see a different potential
In a different world
Nazis become tolerant
Torturers become kind
Tyrants becomes democrats
Murderers live by non-violence
There is no need to give or take bribes
No need for oppression and exploitation
No opportunity for it either
People do to others
What they want done to them
There are some in this other world
Who remain what they were
Because they were born that way
They would still like to kill and laugh
They would see killings and laugh
But they don’t have the chance
And there are also those
Who didn’t kill and laugh
Who saw killings and couldn’t laugh
Because they too were born that way
But they are happy in this other world
There is laughter
Where it should be
Not where it shouldn’t
Is such laughter hope?
I hope it is
But I hope for too much
I am a Jew in Nazi Germany
A Palestinian in Israel
A Dalit in an Indian village
A black in South Africa of apartheid
A communist in a market economy
A ‘reactionary’ in a communist state
A Muslim in post-Godhra Gujarat
A Hindu in newly created Pakistan
A leper in a respectable hospital
I am the ugly one among the beautiful
The weak one among the strong
The poor among the rich
The cursed one among the blessed
A Basque speaker among the Spanish
An outlier in statistics
A hopeless gone-case
Not to be worried about
The one whose existence
Spoils the show
A pleasantly sadistic dimension to it
How much hope is there for me?
Perhaps there is a little
If I accept being a doormat
A sidekick, a joker, a flunky
Or a devotee
I have some other choices
As we live in a free world
I could loose my mind
I could go to the Himalayas
And live in a cave
(I might not reach there,
But that’s a different matter)
I could become a suicide bomber
But I don’t want to do that
I can at least get
The return ticket from life
Then Fevicol could make
A comic ad on the topic
“Man committing suicide”
How hilarious was the scene
When that “farmer died after consuming pesticide”
You could tell jokes
About that girl lying in a pool
Of her own blood
She had shot herself
The scene could be used
To make another ad
To sell something else
The economy will prosper
Happiness will increase
So there is hope
But it’s not for me
[Fevicol had actually brought out an ad a few years ago, which was published in ‘The Hindu’. It might have been published in other newspapers too. This ad carried an announcement of a competition with monitory prize in which the readers were asked to design a comic ad on the topic “Man committing suicide”.]
[ये ‘कविताएं’ मैंने कुछ वर्ष पहले लिखी थीं। ये चाहे मेरे आज, इस वक़्त, के मानस से मेल न खाती हों, पर इनसे हाथ धो लेने का मेरा कोई इरादा नहीं है। इनका साहित्यिक मूल्यांकन जो भी किया जाए। चाहे इन्हें साहित्यिक कहा भी जाए या नहीं।]
उम्मीद पे दुनिया कायम है
ऐसा उनका कहना है
क्या आप ठीक-ठीक बता सकते हैं
ये उम्मीद है कहाँ
मेरे चारों तरफ?
मेरे चारों तरफ जो लोग हैं उनमें?
वही जो हँसते रहते हैं और खुश हैं?
जो आनंद उठाने में संगठित हैं
मैं देखता हूँ उनको
लेकिन मुझे दिखते हैं संभावित नाज़ी
रिश्वत देने और लेने वाले
शोषक और उत्पीड़क
और सिर्फ़ संभावित ही नहीं
उनके साथ ऐसा किया जाता है
और वो दूसरों के साथ करते हैं
उत्पीड़ित ही उत्पीड़क बन जाते हैं
जब उन्हें मौका मिलता है
वो ऐसा उनके साथ नहीं करते
जो जवाब में वही कर सकते हैं
वो अपने साथियों के साथ ऐसा नहीं करते
अरे नहीं, मैं गलत कह गया
वो अपने साथियों के साथ भी ऐसा कर सकते हैं
अगर करने की कीमत चुकाने का डर न हो
ये बदला नहीं है
क्योंकि वो ऐसा ज़्यादातर उनके साथ करते हैं
जिन्होंने इनके साथ ऐसा नहीं किया था
जैसे कि नाज़ी जर्मनी में
इस्राइल के फ़िलिस्तीन में
आपके घर के पास बाज़ार में
आपके दफ्तर के सामने सड़क पर
वहाँ जहाँ आपके बच्चे पढ़ते हैं
दरअसल ये पढ़ाई तो
उससे भी पहले शुरू हो जाती है
वो हँसते हैं और बेवकूफी की बातें करते हैं
बेवकूफी की बातें करते हैं और हँसते हैं
वो ऐसा करते हैं नाश्ते पर
दोपहर के खाने पर
रात के खाने पर
अपने घरों में
दफ्तरों, ट्रेनों, बसों में
बुरे लोग बेवकूफी की बातें करते हैं
अच्छे लोग बेवकूफी की बातें करते हैं
बेवकूफ लोग बेवकूफी की बातें करते हैं
बुद्धिमान लोग बेवकूफी की बातें करते हैं
बेवकूफी बुद्धिमानी है
आत्म-प्रवंचना समझदारी है
अज्ञान ज्ञान है
क्योंकि ब्लिंकर ज़ेवर होते हैं
वो जानना नहीं चाहते
लेकिन फैसला सुनाना चाहते हैं
वो हँसते खूब हैं
हत्या करते हैं और हँसते हैं
हत्याएं होते देखते हैं और हँसते हैं
यातना देते हैं और हँसते हैं
यातना देखते हैं और हँसते हैं
दूसरों का जीवन नरक बनाते हैं और हँसते हैं
दूसरों को नारकीय जीवन जीते देखते हैं
और हँसते हैं
बलात्कार, अत्याचार, उत्पीड़न और हँसी
अन्याय और हँसी
आडंबर और हँसी
अशिष्टता और हँसी
बेईमानी और हँसी
उनका हास्य ब्लैक ह्यूमर नहीं है
बल्कि प्रसन्न, स्वस्थ, सामान्य और संतुष्ट है
या कि ऐसा दिखता है
वो गरीबी को देखते हैं और हँसते हैं
वो बीमारी को देखते हैं और हँसते हैं
ये सब देखते हैं और हँसते हैं
वो इस पर भी हँसते हैं
सिर्फ़ इसके बावजूद ही नहीं
या फ़िर इसे देखते हैं
और नहीं देखते
क्योंकि देखना उनकी हँसी में
खलल डाल सकता है
वो तब नहीं हँसते जब उनके साथ ऐसा होता है
लेकिन हँसना फ़िर चालू हो जाता है
जब उनके साथ नहीं होता
अगर वो ऐसे हैं
तो उनका जीवन खुशहाल हो सकता है
अगर नहीं हैं तो सज़ा पाएंगे
ऐसी सज़ाएं जो अल्मारियों जैसी हैं
जिनमें कमरे ही कमरे हैं
जिनमें घूमते हुए ज़िंदगी गुज़र जाती है
इस सबके साथ और हँसी
हँसी जो अधिक क्रूर है
शारीरिक यंत्रणा से
हँसी जो अधिक अश्लील है
अश्लीलतम शब्दों से
हँसी जो जान लेने को आमादा कर सकती है
हँसी जो आत्मा का संगीत है
(किस तरह की आत्माएं ऐसा संगीत देती हैं?)
हँसी जो सर्वोत्तम दवा है
हँसी जो ईश्वर का प्रकाश है
यह सुन कर मुझे हँसी आती है
तब क्या हँसी ही उम्मीद है?
मैं उन्हें फिर से देखता हूँ
मुझे एक अलग संभावना दिखती है
एक अलग दुनिया में
नाज़ी सहनशील बन जाते हैं
उत्पीड़क उदार बन जाते हैं
आततायी जनवादी बन जाते हैं
हत्यारों के जीवन में हिंसा नहीं रहती
रिश्वत लेने या देने की कोई ज़रूरत नहीं है
ना ही अत्याचार और शोषण की
उसका कोई मौका भी नहीं है
लोग दूसरों के साथ वही करते हैं
जो वो अपने साथ चाहते हैं
इस अलग दुनिया में भी कुछ लोग हैं
जो वही रहते हैं जो वो पहले थे
क्योंकि वो ऐसे ही पैदा हुए थे
वो अब भी जान लेना और हँसना चाहेंगे
अब भी जान ली जाती देख कर हँसना चाहेंगे
लेकिन ऐसा करने का अवसर नहीं है
यहीं कुछ और लोग भी हैं
जो हत्या नहीं करते थे
जो हत्या होते देख कर हँस नहीं पाते थे
क्योंकि वो भी ऐसे ही पैदा हुए थे
लेकिन वो इस दुनिया में खुश हैं
हँसी अब भी है
जहाँ होनी चाहिए
वहाँ नहीं जहाँ नहीं होनी चाहिए
क्या ऐसी हँसी उम्मीद है?
उम्मीद है कि है
पर मेरी उम्मीद कुछ ज़्यादा है
मैं नाज़ी जर्मनी में एक यहूदी हूँ
मैं इस्राइल में एक फ़िलिस्तीनी हूँ
हिन्दुस्तानी गाँव में एक दलित
रंगभेदी दक्षिण अफ्रीका में एक अश्वेत
बाज़ारवादी अर्थव्यस्था में एक साम्यवादी
और साम्यवादी अर्थव्यवस्था में एक ‘प्रतिक्रियावादी’
गोधड़ा-बाद के गुजरात में एक मुसलमान
नवनिर्मित पाकिस्तान में एक हिन्दू
अभिजात लोगों के अस्पताल में एक कोढ़ी
मैं सुंदर लोगों के बीच एक कुरूप हूँ
ताकतवर लोगों में एक कमज़ोर
अमीरों में एक गरीब
किस्मतवालों में एक शापित
स्पेन में एक बाख़-भाषी
सांख्यिकी में एक आउटलायर
आँकडों के हाशिये पर पड़ा एक बिन्दु
अ होपलेस गॉन-केस
जिसके बारे में परेशान होने की
ज़रूरत नहीं होती
खेल को बिगाड़ देता है
या उसमें एक सुखद सादवादी
आयाम जोड़ देता है
मेरे लिए कितनी उम्मीद है?
शायद थोड़ी सी है
अगर मैं स्वीकार कर लूँ
पददलित किया जाना
जमूरा, जोकर, या चमचा बनना
या फ़िर भक्त बनना
मेरे पास कुछ और भी विकल्प हैं
क्योंकि हम एक आज़ाद दुनिया में रहते हैं
मैं अपना मानसिक संतुलन खो सकता हूँ
हिमालय जा सकता हूँ
किसी गुफा में रहने के लिए
(शायद वहाँ तक पहुँच ना पाऊँ
पर वो अलग बात है)
आत्मघाती बमवर्षक बन सकता हूँ
पर वो मैं करना नहीं चाहता
तो मैं जीवन से
वापसी का टिकट तो ले ही सकता हूँ
फ़िर फ़ेवीकोल एक हास्यप्रद विज्ञापन बना सकता है
“मैन कमिटिंग स्वीसाइड” विषय पर
कितना हास्यास्पद था वो दृश्य
जब “कीटनाशी खा कर किसान ने आत्महत्या की”
आप चुटकुले सुना सकते हैं
उस लड़की के बारे में
जो छोटे से तालाब में पड़ी है
जो उसके ही खून से बना है
उसने खुद को गोली मार ली थी
इस दृश्य का इस्तेमाल हो सकता है
एक और विज्ञापन बनाने के लिए
जिससे कुछ और बेचा जा सकता है
अर्थव्यव्स्था संपन्न होगी
मतलब उम्मीद तो है
पर ये मेरे लिए नहीं है
[फेवीकोल ने सही में एक विज्ञापन निकाला था जो कुछ ही वर्ष पूर्व ‘द हिंदू’ में छपा था। शायद अन्य अखबारों में भी छपा हो। इस विज्ञापन में एक इनाम वाली प्रतियागिता का ऐलान था जिसमें “मैन कमिटिंग स्वीसाइड” विषय पर पाठकों से हास्यप्रद विज्ञापन बनाने को कहा गया था।]
I can’t resist sharing this legendary song by a legendary singer. It’s possible for you to watch him sing this song which was introduced by him a long ago but has since been sung by innumerable singers, including his mentor Edith Piaf.
It’s called ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’ (‘Autumn Leaves’ in English) and is based on a poem by Jacques Prévert and has music by Joseph Kosma. I am sure a part of the tune has been used in an old Hindi song, but I am just not able to place that song.
This is also a gift from technology. There are people who, over the decades, have helped in the development of technology for this. And there are people who have helped make something like ‘precision’ (and/or) cluster bombs.
Perhaps the intersection between the two sets is quite large.
Did they have to? Necessarily?
By the way, here is the link for the residents of IIIT, Hyderabad who won’t be able to see the video above as the youtube site is banned there.
I mean here.
Too dangerous a technology.
But the in.youtube site (which was inaugurated with news stories in the national mainstream media) is not banned so far. I hope nationalism ensures that it remains unbanned. It should be of some use. Nationalism. Earn its keep. If it works hard enough.
Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t recognize the in.youtube site.
But nationalism has not saved the India Together site from being banned. And the funny thing is that I am perhaps the only person on the campus who tries to access this site.
While I am at it, I may as well share a song by Edith Piaf.
While reading a rant today against Arundhati Roy (Not again!), I came across a new (balancing) label. Neo-Marxism. The ranter says that she and others like her are neo-Marxist ‘intellectuals’. Since my political views have a lot in common with hers, I couldn’t help thinking that I too could be accused of being a neo-Marxist (‘intellectual’ or not).
The idea offends me. So much so that I have decided to declare in advance what I am not. What I most certainly never was. Or will be. I hope this will save the time of those (if any) who bother to pay attention to me and then may want to rant against me. I hope this would allow them to make better use of their energies.
Just in case.
And these are the things I wasn’t, am not and will not be:
Not just that. I don’t believe in a sudden (violent or non-violent) and quick revolution that will change the world overnight magically. I am almost sure that there will be no final victory and living happily ever after. There can only be a continuous long struggle which is unlikely to completely end ever. Because there are too many things (abstract and concrete; human, inhuman and non-human) which are too strong to be overcome easily. I am not even sure whether some of them can be overcome. Even to overcome a few of them is not going to be possible through just polite academic discourse and a bit of charity here and bit of social work there.
In other words, a dystopia is very likely (almost certain if we don’t try to keep preventing it continuously) but a Utopia is out of the question.
The fact is, I am not even sure whether I am ‘very left liberal’ as I have written on my Orkut profile (which no one visits, including me).
Sure, I might be a lot of other things which people like the above mentioned ranter might find worthy of attack. Or those who advocate ‘let’s discuss it over dinner and not make a fuss’ even if it’s a matter of thousands of lives (or deaths). The latter variety includes those who claim to be admirers and even followers of Gandhi. As far as my knowledge, intelligence and reasoning goes, Gandhi was a Big Fuss Maker (even if not big enough for many) for any cause that he was active for.
That takes me to another disclaimer. I am not a Gandhian either.
Am I a socialist? Am I a leftist? Am I a liberal?
It all depends on what exactly these terms mean for the person who is asking. They could be used to mean anything.
The other day I read someone’s comment on the Outlook website ranting against ‘communal Congress’ and raving in favour (favor for the dominant party) of ‘secular RSS/BJP’.
Even as a BJP national leader was feeling diminished by Nepal being declared a secular republic.
But I am not going to give out disclaimers about not being a communalist or fundamentalist or anything of the sort. Don’t think it’s necessary.
Am I definitely something? I could be, but I am not much interested in being labeled. I want to do many things. I have been many things. I am many things.
Who the heck cares? And why on earth?
L.K. Advani is one of those people who turn hypocrisy into a fine art. One of the prerequisites of this art is having at least somewhat charismatic personality. The ability to project a decent middle class ‘measured’ persona helps too.
His party, after the retirement of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is now making the most of Advani’s abilities, as it is of Modi’s. And Modi himself is now suggesting that we fight inflation with fasting, as once advised by India’s former Gandhian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.
From Advani to Jaswant Singh. Add the charms of being a former Maharaja.
As we all know, Nepal has finally got rid of the monarchy (lock, stock and non-smoking barrel, unlike Britain). Moreover, that country will now also be a ‘secular republic’, like India. This is our (possibly) future Prime Minister’s ‘measured’ take on these developments:
As for abolition of monarchy, Mr. Singh said, “It is for the people of Nepal to decide not to have a monarchy.”Was the BJP happy about Nepal becoming a secular state? He said: “As an Indian and a believer in ‘sanatan dharma’ [Hinduism], I feel diminished. … There are four ‘dhams’ [pilgrimage centres] in India and the fifth, Pashupati Nath, is in Nepal. There is nothing more secular than ‘sanatan dharma’. … This is a negative development [in Nepal].”
If there is nothing more secular than ‘sanatan dharma’, why does he feel diminished about Nepal becoming a secular state?
Don’t be insane. Be measured. It’s not good to ask such questions.
And here is the not-so-measured take of his party president Rajnath Singh on the words ‘secular’ and ‘dharmanirpeksh’.
Where do I find the words for Modi?
I couldn’t really understand what exactly is your point (if any). I do get it that you are enraged by the attention that Arundhati Roy is getting (through her ‘attention grabbing devices’). That’s fine with me. It’s true that she is getting a disproportionate amount of attention, just as her ‘one-book-wonder’ has earned a disproportionate amount of money.
Apart from that, I don’t understand what objections you have which made you write such a long piece on a non-issue. Are you objecting to some particular stand taken by her? To some particular protest she has been involved in?
Or are you just saying that all that she has been arguing for is wrong and that all her ’causes’ are unworthy of support? Or that the causes may be alright but her arguments are wrong?
Frankly, I am not able to get any clue about the answers to these questions from your lengthy tirade against Arundhati Roy, the celebrity.
Do you actually have any stand about any of those causes? Or do you believe they should be left to the experts?
I will tell you my opinion. Of course, what she is saying is not very original in terms of the content. It’s not meant to be original. The purpose of (explicitly) political writing is not to be original, but to effectively argue about some cause or some issue or even about the world in general. Effectively enough for people to pay attention. This means originality in terms of style, at least.
Now, even though you seem to be enraged by the attention she is getting (people interviewing her about herself), you seem to be suggesting that people are actually not paying attention to her, i.e., to what she is saying about the causes and the issues. Is that really so? I don’t think so. Yes, more people are paying attention to the members of the RSS family than to her. In fact, more people are paying attention to Narendra Modi than to her, but then the very nature of what she talks about is such that no one usually wants to listen to those things. Because it can make you uncomfortable and disturbed. It can even shake your very foundations, brainwashed as you may be by the whole system of manufactured consent.
Those people in Nepal who have been brought up on the culture of devotion to the King are still not able to accept the fact that monarchy is a bad idea. Devotion to the monarchy may be at the root of their philosophy of life. They are not going to be convinced easily. Perhaps some will never be. Till they die. But their children (or grandchildren) will have no problem in getting convinced.
So, even if, in absolute terms, not many may be paying attention to her political writing, in relative terms, a large number of people are paying attention to her. And people are not just paying attention to *her*, they are actually paying attention to the causes she is talking about. She has managed to convince some people. Not you, perhaps, but some people. And you may not think so, but a very large number of activists, including those who are scholars of the highest repute and the highest order, do believe that her arguments are convincing and persuasive. You are entitled to your opinion, but then so am I. And so are those who agree with her. And by any standards, the quality of people who agree with her is, on the whole, much higher than those who don’t. You can find the details about this claim if you do your own research (without leaving it to an expert) on her, and on the people I am talking about.
And also about the problems she is talking about.
Why don’t you take your own advice? Ignore the person and focus on the cause. That is, if you think there is a cause. I could have said more about this had you shown any interest in any cause while writing your piece and given some indication of where you stand. For example, what is your position on the War on Terror? Or on the Big Dams? Or on nuclear weapons? Or on Fascism? Or on globalization? Or on Salva Judum? The only hint I can get from your article is that you don’t think any of these issues are important enough for anyone to ‘shout from the rooftop’, as Arundhati Roy described her attempts. Like so many others, you perhaps don’t mind people shouting from the rooftop about safe issues (or non-issues), which doesn’t shake anyone’s foundations.
To make clear why I am writing this, I will repeat again. Ignore the person if you don’t like her talking about herself. Instead focus on the issue or the cause. It is possible, you know.
To me, it doesn’t matter much whether she likes being called an activist or not. Or a writer-activist or not, for that matter. To me, what matters is whether what she is saying about the Big Dams or about corporatization (in the name of globalization) or about Fascism has any validity or not.
Yes, she does get hyperbolic sometimes, but then no one is perfect.
You can avoid hyperbole completely by being a loyal obedient orderly, for example. But I would have no respect for her if she followed this course.
I prefer Kabir (who did use hyperboles quite a lot) to Birbal or Tenali Rama (who also used hyperboles, but in a very safe way).
I like Ramachandra Guha’s writings, but I like P. Sainath’s writings more. But some might say that Sainath also gets hyperbolic. Some might even say that he is glorifying suicides. I know what is the problem with such people.
Literary writing, fictional or non-fictional, explicitly political or implicitly political (there is no such thing as non-political), is not (fortunately) dictated by what teachers of English composition say.
Ever heard of James Joyce? Samuel Beckett? Kafka? Gabriel Garcia Marques? Salman Rushdie?
Pablo Neruda? He was a big celebrity too.
Shakespeare? He is so full of attention grabbing devices. And all his devices have been adopted into the English language. Did your English composition teacher tell you this?
What about ignorance?
More importantly, what about willful ignorance?