the kriticulture blogspace is the interspace of cultures.
the space for what can, or cannot, be said in a universe of disciplinary boundaries and disciplining borders. literature, philosophy, theory, politics, film, theatre, photography, art, anar(ch)t . . . sheer writing, scratching, screaming.
geo-cognitively situated in the 21st century Punjab, India, it is a nomadic, amorphous and anarchic interspace of free dialogue of cultures, disciplines, people, and worlds.
And it goes masked under lawfulness and propriety.
As we fathom greater depths of venality and deceit, experts,
specialists, technocrats, managers and ‘intellectuals’ are working overtime to
produce effects of oh-so-much happening. A reactive hyperactivity, whose fountainhead
is the media, is radiating from tv screens.
Has not the media, whatever the intentions of those who are motivated
nobly, come to function as a machine of distraction, consolation, vicarious
rage? In short, the Bad Conscience of the Indian people?
what reportedly transpired in the Supreme Court today on 8th May, the media is
all aflutter with speculation. Will the Law Minister go? Should he? Will the deities
up there ask him to exit? And the Railway Minister?
The PM is said to be supporting the continuation of
Is he doing it on his own or under someone’s
directions? It matters little. What matters is what his conduct means for India
and its people. And for whatever is still left of democracy here.
This is not a display of amazing political nerve by
an I-am-no-politician. This is not a demonstration of loyalty towards party and
colleagues. This is not some ascetic indifference to little storms in a tea cup.
This is not courage of conviction.
This is a systematic destruction of the institutions
on whose strength post-independence India has managed to survive. Silence,
stone-walling, the brazenness to weather any storm – believing it too will blow
over, these can undermine people’s trust in the efficacy of the institutions of
democracy. These can undermine the confidence which institutions need in themselves
in order to function.
Manmohan Singh’s ‘management’ of democracy is making
Are we willing and prepared to live with its
You looked the bully in the eye, And called his bluff, Till millions rose around you To say enough is enough. You spoke to them of the things That were all their own; Till they said, lead us, brother Chavez, And we will not relent till we are done. You sat in the middle of the hoi polloi And made your best decisions there; You recounted the truth of oppressions, Till every labouring one was clear How the eagle had to be stopped From marauding at will, And how a million sparrows had to rise To deny its wanton fill. More than the oil and the miracles Of well being you wrought with it, It was what you taught a continent About the ravages of a complicit History that made the trampled Sheaves of human grain stand, Forging that undefeatable clarity of mind, Which alone makes a revolutionary band. You went far too early, brother Chavez, Although your work shall leave us basking In the common tasks of coming days.
I can visualize him watching his
own burning corpse and laughing a philosopher’s laughter. “Oye pandatā, this
Kang was a dog’s tail of a man. Look, he is poking even the flames to laugh.
What a struggle the wind and the fire are waging over his body. And look at the
rain, it refuses to stop. His death seems to have released an excess of the
five bhoots, making nature go berserk.”
to him, I try to make sense of his bizarre inner geography.
“He’ll be impossible to replace. It’s such a
loss,” he adds in an altogether different mood.
Maninder had this ability to move effortlessly between gaiety and gravity. He probably had
found the thread that connects the extremes.
him some twenty years ago when he arrived to teach in the college where I was
already teaching. That college, in Hoshiarpur, had then a Principal who liked
to take himself very seriously. And he had managed to surround himself with men
and women who competed with one another to sustain their boss’s precarious
endeavours. Maninder, it seems, had been dropped in this theatre of the
ludicrous by some malicious naughty gods. One day as the Principal sat basking
in the sweat-scented congregation of his flattering chamchas and chamchis,
officially designated as a staff meeting, he walked in late, went straight to
the Principal’s side, put both hands on his table, bent a bit low, and began, “Bhāji, the peon told me you wanted to
see me. I am not really late. I was sitting in an empty classroom and had got
it bolted from outside to avoid being disturbed. Yes, why did you call me?”
boss’s lips twisted under the unaesthetic imbalance of his recalcitrant moustache. We knew his pride had been wounded: the twisted lips always
indicated the throes of a struggle to put himself into words, in which he
always failed, so that he ended up frothing at the corners of his mouth. How
could a mere teacher, that too on probation, treat him like an ordinary mortal?
Maninder’s fate was sealed. Soon enough, when he booked half a dozen boys for
using unfair means during an examination, the principled Principal persuaded the
college management to terminate his services. He was again on the road.
once given me a book to read. It was titled Oddballs.
I was to gradually discover what a great oddball Maninder himself was.
later I found him again when his story Bhār
was published. I called him. He almost sang with happiness to hear my voice
after all those years. After that we used to talk once or twice a month. More
often it was he who called. And he invariably scolded me for not calling him. I
had to reinvent all the banal excuses at my disposal. He always forgave.
to meet me last year when he was visiting some relations in Patiala city. He
borrowed a scooter and rode through the cruel traffic all the way to my house
which is quite far from the city. “I can’t see clearly in the evenings, but I
pushed on. I had to meet you, Rajesh baba.” He had come to pat me for co-editing
the journal South Asian Ensemble. He loved the way I wrote. He liked that I had not let myself die under the weight
of trivialities. He wanted me to write in English on Punjabi culture. “There is
a world of work waiting to be done. We’ll sit down soon again and I’ll tell you
what you should do,” he spoke with a conviction that was irresistibly
infectious. Had he been in some university, how many people he would have
inspired, driven, even kicked. And they would have been grateful. Some say he
could not get a teaching position in a university because he had a tendency to
kick the wrong people. They are perhaps right. His goodness was irrepressible.
He hit you to do you a good turn. Unfortunately, not many recipients of his
eccentric generosity had a heart as large as he had.
But then he had an incredibly large
heart. He never bore a grudge against anyone, not against life, not even
against the generality the vulgar-minded call ‘the world’. Others felt
that he had never got even a fraction of what should have been ensured to a man
of his caliber. He never complained. Maybe he knew that exile was the price
he had to pay for preserving his creative edge and intellectual integrity. That
may be the reason he never tried to be politically correct.