Telegraph Calcutta

A Note On A Hangover

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The year that has begun might well turn out to be the most momentous in the memory of our lives, or in the memory of the lives of most of us. How many of us are still around, after all, who were alive and aware in 1947? Or in 1950? We, as we are today, began in 1947. And then, in 1950, we agreed upon the fundamentals of who we would be and how we would go about being so — we gave unto ourselves our Constitution.

Its letter and spirit have never come under such rampant and consistent assault as during the years that Narendra Modi assumed the reins of government and Amit Shah the reins of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The lines between government and party, loyalty to nation and loyalty to person, have been sought to be cynically obliterated during this time, and a new ultra-aggressive, right-wing monotheism spurred. Democratic dissent has come to be renamed treason.

Continue reading “A Note On A Hangover”

Telegraph Calcutta

The Bonfire Of Many Sanities

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And why would you even wonder that I speak out of anger, exasperation even? Why would you be surprised? Hey! Raam! I am still speaking to you. This is Mahadeb on the line, the Aaakashwani speakerphone so everybody can hear. I trust you are tuned in and listening. I trust you did not go away thinking I was done with you last week. I wasn’t. With all the mess spilling about, it is a tad tough containing oneself. And the things is this mess continues to spill. Continue reading “The Bonfire Of Many Sanities”

Telegraph Calcutta

Remember You Are Mahadeb’s Avatar

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Hey! Raam! Listening? Whereabouts are you? What are you doing? These days? This is Mahadeb calling. I said I shall speak out as I am; and I promised you shall hear. Hear when I start to speak. Well, here it is, I am beginning to speak now. As I am. In my mien. In my tone. In my voice. You shall now hear Mahadeb for as long as I want to speak. This space is mine. I am on stage. Listen. On speakerphone, please put me on speakerphone so it begins to sound a little like Aakashvaani, everybody can hear. I keep hearing about you once every while from folks on that planet of mortals down there far below. Every now and again there rises a cry over you. Every now and again as in every five years or thereabouts, and I keep wondering what is it that happens every five years or thereabouts that I hear your name being invoked from that corner of mortals down there far below. What’s happening? Continue reading “Remember You Are Mahadeb’s Avatar”

Telegraph Calcutta

The Modi Test

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Someday very soon someone will commission a poll on who will be India’s preferred pick for prime minister in 2019, and the answer won’t be worth either the wait or the bet. It will be the same man who has consistently led such polls since 2013 or thereabouts: Narendra Damodardas Modi. His most credible emerging challenger, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, will probably have added a few percentage points to his lapel but the overwhelming odds still are Modi will re-emerge frontrunner by a fair distance. Continue reading “The Modi Test”

Telegraph Calcutta

Because We Turned Thereon To Abuse

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We turned away. We turned away from each other. But I am changing my tone now. I am not you. I am not part of this “we”. I am separate. I am removed. I am above. Remember. I am Mahadeb.

What did you ever think of me? That I was a chaiwala? A chaiwala aspiring to be, someday, TheChaiwala? Just because I served you tea? Endless bhaanrs of them that you still miss and come looking for around that forlorn cart? But that was not the sum of who I am. Sums are wrong. Sums are what you choose to pick and add; the fallacy of sums of what you forsake or forget to add. Have you ever tried summing up raindrops? Try. Then tell me how you did at that arithmetic. Walk into the rain some fortunate day and bring me back the sum of raindrops, if only the raindrops that fell on you. Continue reading “Because We Turned Thereon To Abuse”

Telegraph Calcutta

Requiem To Beauteous Bygone Whispers

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We spoke softly. The memory of it may now be buried in the dung heap of raucous decibels, be we did whisper once upon a time. We did not need to any more. Whispers were enough. Okay, not whispers all the time, but a softly spoken tone. Not weak. Not fragile. Not lacking in strength or vigour. In fact quite firm. And forthright. But softly so. We whispered away the mightiest global empire from these shores. We did not scream. We did not rave and rant. We did not raise arms. We did not fire a shot. We called nobody any names. Continue reading “Requiem To Beauteous Bygone Whispers”

Telegraph Calcutta

Under A Hobnailed Boot — Through centuries the story of Kashmir has been one of area domination

Area domination is a term that comes with easy disconcert to folks in militarised, conflict-ridden zones — a daily, cloying intimacy, a shadow that won’t go away for any amount of shrugging. Kashmir is an area domination domain, probably, and wretchedly, our premier showcase of it — a sundered, splintered, plundered, barb-fenced, barrel-ridden, risked, fisted, rebuked, bludgeoned, bleeding, weeping geography trodden over by the hob-nailed heel of one ownership or another. Kashmir, a possession so precious it has to be had to destruction. Area domination — that’s first, middle and last name for Kashmir, you might almost want to spell Kashmir that way.

Through centuries, that’s been the story of Kashmir, the story of heckled, and often brutal, area domination: Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, Dogras, even the British through sleight of their residency in the Dogra courts. On the people of Kashmir, they were all harsh and excessive regimes whose memory lives on in the memory of their battered genes. Should you read Walter Lawrence’s The Valley of Kashmir, to this day probably the most definitive discourse on the nature of Kashmir and its people, you will get some sense of what also went into making the Kashmiri a crafty, and altogether changeable, survivor. It was brought on by mostly imported atrocity. Continue reading “Under A Hobnailed Boot — Through centuries the story of Kashmir has been one of area domination”