State of Play

A mildewed life – The migrant is trapped between the home and the world

In a succession of thousands of years,/ In years of poverty and disaster,/ What existed was not a person,/ But countless disfigured cripples.

One spent his whole life as a cobbler/ Formed no judgements higher than his boot tree./ Another turned two millstones all his days:/ Behind their pointless turning he turned grey./ A third man plowed the soil from childhood on/ And never visited the nearby town...

... And in the villages, emptied of people/ Where brutish fear of the city prevailed/ A mildewed life, barbarically wretched,/ Limped from one hut’s doorway to another,/ Like a blind old nag, ribs sticking out,

Walking in its sleep around/ The same old pile of manure:/ The wooden plow, the tavern, the priests...”

“Fragments and the Whole” — Nikolai Bukharin

We can all now sigh in relief and feel a little pleased too, why not? We are sending the workers home. They are not having to walk any more, we are sending them back in chartered buses and special trains, never mind who paid for tickets, who didn’t, at least they are going home. Washing comes highly recommended these days, we can give our collective conscience a collective wash. Very soon we will stop being haunted. We will no longer see images of our countrymen and countrywomen trudging thousand-mile routes through the heat of day and the darkness of night, often smacked or whipped along the way, often forced to frogleap, sometimes sprayed with chemicals, sometimes tear-gassed. But no longer that ghoulish everywhere spectacle of them dragging their trussed worldly goods, their bewildered kids, hungry, thirsty, hapless, exhausted, and yet so tormented by their present that it had to be fled and a future chased. A future that lay in most of their pasts, their homes, those homes that they had had to forsake to arrive here, from where they are now being driven, hither-thither, in panicked tens of thousands, like frantic wildebeest droves in crocodile-ridden waters.

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There are no more windows

There was once a story that was only a story. But it was a story that cannot be forgotten because the possibility of it haunts us. It was the story of the sky falling on our heads. What a calamity that would be, a calamity that nobody will live to tell. What happened after? That nobody will ever know because when the sky falls on our heads, it will be the end of things.

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Once upon a golden bird

Things of wonder are things of wonder. They make us wonder, or why else would we call them things of wonder? For instance that soney ki chidiya thing? What soney ki chidiya? Where is it? Where was it, is probably a more correct way to ask.

But an even more correct way to frame that question is probably this: When was it? When was this soney ki chidiya? Time please. Or Date. Or month. Or year. Or decade. Or century. Or millennium. Or whatever it is that was there before everything was.

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Badshahat Badshahat Badshahat Ameen!

The thing about power is… Well, should I let it out? In as open a space as a newspaper? Which goes into hundreds of thousands of homes each morning and may be read by five times more? Should I let it out in as public a place as a newspaper? Which has become as daily as brushing your teeth and, before that or after that other daily thing. You know what I am referring to. But don’t make mention of it. Please don’t stink up this place, we are already in the sixth year of those things. This place stinks, and you made it so. My compliments. Why? Go guess. I am the one who stinks, and you are the ones who brought me here and helped the stink spread. So relentlessly and unapologetically that the stink has become the norm. We stink and therefore we are. We need the stink in order that we can be all the things that are necessary things. The right things. The done things. The nationalist things, all of them that stink.

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