Telegraph Calcutta

Our nation to keep and guard


Someone in the shivered hubbub around the Shaheen Bagh picket did bring up the mention of Sharmila Irom of Manipur and how long she fought against the AFSPA before she pulled out the feeder tubes, ended the hunger strike and proceeded with her life. Sixteen years she battled. Irom is now off stage; AFSPA remains.

The state is powerful, in time it breaks the will and bones of those that stand in its way. But the thing about protests is not always whether they have surmounted, but often just that they have been waged. Continue reading “Our nation to keep and guard”

Telegraph Calcutta

Let me vow, I am the wow cow

Moooooooooo! Helooooooooo! Frump! Frump! Frrrrrrrrrrraaaaah! Aaaaah! Swiiiiiisssh! Thop! Thop! Thop! Plop! Thop! Chhurrrrrrrrrr! And then another long Chhhurrrrrrrrrrrr!! Mooooooooo! WhoYouuuuuuuuu?

Well, while you decide, let me tell you, Me Mooooooo!

YouWhooooo! YouTooooo? YaaaaaHoooooo!

Do you not know?

But you should. You better. The year’s about to end, and if you don’t know me, you’re about to, you know. Know a lot. An awful lot. If you know what I mean. You mean, you don’t know me? Me? Then God be with you, Khuda Hafiz. You are spent. Gone. Khallasss! So brace yourself, and find out things. About yourself. About me. Else… Continue reading “Let me vow, I am the wow cow”

Telegraph Calcutta

Yaheen to maar kha gaya Hindustan

Oh, don’t you even ask. For I cannot even begin to tell. There is a lot to tell, but I do not know where to begin. That happens. Every time a beginning occurs, another one pops up.

Too many beginnings. And no end. Or each an end in itself. I am talking about being beaten. Being beaten? Or getting beaten? I wonder. I am, as you well know by now, confused. I am confused on this one too. What’s better? Being beaten? Or getting beaten? Or, truth to tell, the question to ask should be which one is worse? Tough to tell.

There are so many choices to pick from, you see, so many times has one been beaten. Someone or the other. Here. Amongst us. Beaten. We are a beaten peepuls. Or we beat. Now look at how we are beating this register thing, batao, batao, batao! Where are you from? What is your name? Batao, bataaao!!

One register. Of that One nation. Of that One flag. Of that One law. Of that One Leedaaaah. That Register is what we are beating. And beating that One register will finally give us One people. That is what this beating is all about. So beat it, and shake it out. Are you in? Are you out? Beat this register, and you’ll find out. You are either beaten in, or you are beaten out. All the result of a resounding beating.

All this beating, it’s only in the national interest, bhai, where would we be without all this beating? We have arrived here beating our way, all the way. We beat all those piled up years of NothingHappened. We beat them, not once but twice. But some more beating is required before NothingHappened can squarely be beaten and interred six inches under. We beat the Bapus and the Chachas of the era of NothingHappened. But it seems they too require some more beating. We beat their progeny too, and they too require a little bit more beating. If we can beat them well and long enough, we will have dealt with them.

Like we dealt with Mohammed Jalaluddin, also known as Akbar. We beat him good and healthy at Haldighati and now we know that Akbar was not Great after all. That sort of beating had to be done, it was waiting to be done. They had beaten us, we had to beat them. That is how it has always happened, that is how we have arrived here: beating, getting beaten, beating back.

History is a story of who beat who, and who was beaten by who. Remember that. Beating is an act for Akhand, because our hearts beat for Akhand. Does your heart beat for Akhand? Check. Does your heart beat at all? Check. Who does your heart beat for? Check. Because there is a lot for your heart to beat. Beating is what you should be doing if your heart beats for Akhand. Beat the enemies of Akhand.

You will know who they are. You have been told who they are. Those with the wrong names. Those who eat the wrong food. Those who say the wrong prayers. Those who pray to the wrong God. Those who have the wrong customs. Those who have the wrong festivals. Those who stay in the wrong places. Those who read the wrong books. Those who speak the wrong language. Those who wear the wrong clothes. Aaaaah! There. The wrong clothes, that’s the key; you can get them from the clothes they wear, and then you will know exactly who to beat.

Hey, c’mon people get this right,
We’re in it, we’re in for the fight;
Bring it on, and sing to my feat,
You got the baton, baby, you got to beat.


So that nobody can be somebody

Who’s to tell who or what this thing that feels like some part of someone is? Who’s to tell what this thing is? Tough to tell, I do know, but essential to tell. Whose voice is this? I can only wonder, for I come knowing nothing, nothing at all. I do not even know what or where I come from. No, alas no. But I know I have a voice. I can hear it. You can hear it. You can, can’t you? Please do not mind too much if I seek assurance. I am such a thing. I have become such a thing. I have been turned into such a thing. I need assurance. Even to know that I am, whatever it is that I am. I am not sure. But I am. I am something. It is not that I am nothing, although I can see that I am sought to be driven to being that: Nothing. But I am not that, not yet. I am not there yet, not yet. I have a faceless face. I have a nameless name. I have a non-descript description. It’s all written there, in what’s now illegible. But so what? I am so weary of everything, no less of wondering and waffling about who I might be. So pardon me if I may just quote a bit of the past on this, something akin, perhaps: “…And thank heavens there’s somebody heeding that call with all the urgency and innovation it requires, laying out the road ahead, picking out the pitfalls.

What would have become of us if we hadn’t been recently alerted to the rife and fatal perils of termites? Nobody bothered warning us all this while what an apocalyptic end termites have been plotting. We are teetering on a hollowed out precipice and nobody told us. Such were the reckless botch-ups of the epoch justly called NothingHappened. All through NothingHappened, termites happened, and they were allowed to continue happening. As their nomenclature vaguely suggests, termites terminate. We were being voraciously had. But since we have given unto ourselves TheBossOfAllThings, he’s given unto us reason to feel secure. He’s let out the war cry: Exterminate before they terminate. This is nothing to scoff at. We should feel indebted we are now sagaciously helmed. Examine the scholarship and thought, not to speak of the milk of national interest that began to flow circa 2014, that has gone into raising this lifesaver alarm. Examine termites. Their names are petrifying enough. Cratomastotermitidae. Mastotermitidae. Archotermopsidae. Hodotermitidae. Stolotermitidae. Kalotermitidae. Archeorhinotermitidae. Stylotermitidae. Rhinotermitidae. Serritermitidae. Termitidae. Imagine running into one or any in a dark alley. Plundered to the bone, Ram naam satya hai. It gets worse. They come in 3,016 species. And that’s how far we know. A few hundred more termite varieties remain beyond our grasp. They are Jurassic or Triassic of origin, whatever that might mean; Hollywood tells us that can be unimaginably old and terrifying. We know social and anti-social behaviour. This lot conforms to an altogether alien behavioural tendency — they are eusocial, a matrix so arcane we have no understanding of it. It gets even worse. Termites organise themselves into armies, male and female. Armies. And these armies are so resilient and invasive, so tough to control, the best zoos in the world have refused to host them. But that’s how they’ve come to colonise every landmass on our planet other than Antarctica. And the way science is exploding frontiers, it’s quite certain it will discover an Antarctic termite soon, genetically kitted out in white thermals, breathing brimstone to neutralise polar frost. Termites are not a hazard to us alone, they are a global jeopardy. And it was down to one man to flag this menace to humanity. Is there more proof required to confirm we are now blessed with a world-class leader?”

So. There. Me. Or what there is of me. If there is such a thing.
But do tell me something
Just one question, not a few;
You who think yourself akin to some king;
Tell me, by way of interest, just who be you?

Telegraph Calcutta

Maneaters and other wildings

Are you ready for it folks? Excited? Just can’t wait, isn’t it? Tossing and turning in sleep and like coked-out awake, aren’t you? Like totally GobsmackedBazoookaBoomed about it and totes ticklish in all sorts of places? Man. Mayyyyn!! It’s coming. Faiiinallly!! Someone put me on speed and zoom me out there, like, you know, this is just no place and time to be, you just don’t wanna be here anymore, Mayyyyn, you wanna be out there, with it, you know what I mean? You wanna be out there, with it, Man, just speed of light fast- forward, you know what I mean? Of course you do, don’t lie, you cheat, hai naa? No? I’m flying on my wannas, don’t pull me down now. You are too, admit it, come on. You tellin’ me you aren’t? Chal jhoothey!

JungleeBook is coming. Yayyyyy!

Starring. Who else? You know who. But if you don’t — chal jhoothey, how can you not — you’ll know. I toh just can’t wait. I toh just wanna tear into time and future and anything in between and be right there.

They’ve released the rushes and I’ve seen the rushes and they’ve given me the rushes. He looks so kewl, JungleeMan, and everything around him looks so junglee, I just want to, oh, I’m so excited I can’t even explain myself. Don’t mean to get you all jealous and jam, Darl, but you know that man, that man, just to look at that man. Oh Mayyyn, he’s so irresistibly jungleee. Rough and rugged and gorgeous rustic, and naturally hewn, like the brambles he was trekking through with that sceptre of his, or actually better than that, a specially jungle-crafted spear actually. He didn’t craft it himself, the Bhalu did, but theek hai, how many people can you count that Bhalu does things for in the Jungle? But how thoughtful of him to craft that spear, with an absolutely killer tip! You know the big news, of course. The jungles are spilling over with tigers, God knows where one might pop up and pounce? Grrrrrrrr… And gone, fed to the exploding tiger population. That’s why you need that Cro-Magnon bhaala; to kill to survive, killing is the jungle’s sport. When you are in the Jungle and want to be a Junglee, you absolutely need the bare neces-sities and who better to bring them to you than the bear, or, Bhalu. Translation. Translation. Wah! Taaliyaan!

But don’t get super excited, yet, don’t exhaust your taaliyaan, because there’s more occasion for that just coming up. The jungle gear of the jungle bear and JungleeMan. Mayyyn! I mean what can you not do in that kind of gear? All that grey and grisly butch stuff they kit you out in when you tell them I am going where no man has been before, only JungleeMan. He looked, he looked, watchamacallit, drop dead dreamboat. He even got on to one at some stage, in Bhalu’s company, crossing a lake full of killer alligators with not a care on his face he was braving such peril. And heading towards far graver ones.

Guffawing. Like nothing had happened around that time other than pure junglee fun. And if something had, he was too far gone too deep to be told or to hear. Boom! What? Nothing. Lights. Camera. Action.

Preyer, prowler, lurking fright

In these jungles of our night

Beware you’re in the killer’s sight

Keep your torches burning bright.