HUG interviews Anil Kumar Yadav
HUG: What do you do?
Anil: Mostly I live in the subconscious, or in semi consciousness, shall we say. Something silently keeps on happening in my head. Not objective happening actually, but rather something is always ‘taking place’. And I am acutely aware of this drive. I am continually observing myself, as if in an out of body experience. I often have changed jobs or have not had stable jobs. So, I observe. May be there are three possible coordinates, each overlapping with the other. Not that these thoughts are all well formulated, but still—
First there is an acute craving to find a new language. So that one can at least come somewhat closer to the real. But I keep on failing. My writing, its relevance, if any, seems to be only partial. I do have a language of my own; I nurture a particular way of expression, my style, that is—but that does not mean that I have discovered a new vocabulary. I am unable to make any profound connection with the passing moments of our time.
I am also being quartered by a piercing, devastating sense of dread. Every waking moment. Even while half asleep. How shall I put it! See, there are these two parts in my mind. Two sides, yes. Each conspires and negates the other. Each will not allow the other to function at all. Not that these two sides are indignant with each other. They are not. They are like childhood playmates-बाल-सखा . There is this negative side; it wanders. This is my imaginative side. The positive side of my mind, on the other hand, keeps on thinking. It is driven by the worthy, necessary wishes of life.
The third is about my non-faith in relations and friends. Particularly friends. Not that one needs friends in order to help solve things or to be by one’s side, during times difficult or joyous. That kind of sentimentality I have long let go. No, not that. But friends can actually sometimes invest in and refine one’s thought process. By brainstorming along with you about life’s various issues, they give you a sense of perspective, or so I used to think. But I have no faith in faith, none in relations—in love, friendship or relatives anymore. These not only work at a very superficial order of things, but the real point is that friends can never do anything about how you will actually deal with life or about your deepest concerns in life. I am far more connected now with my feelings and thoughts as I have learned to navigate life on my own terms. You do not rely upon faith anymore. You live life. Period. I gradually began feeling that all my so called affective relationships have no investment whatsoever with my concerns, with truth, with my fantasies, and with life’s realties at all.
These are the things I do.
HUG: What do you see?
Anil: This word mainstream has lost all connotations because the margin keeps on shifting and morphing continuously. All these debates about the mainstream and the margin are simply putrified and ossified into meaninglessness. There are deep connivances. People that I see and work with are like gladiators, safeguarding and defending the interests of their emperors.
I feel helpless and I can see this helplessness with utmost clarity. People like me are so beyond even the margins that even to remark or comment about politicians, corrupt godmen, criminals or the mafia raj seems to be meaningless. Such a small fry I am.
The deep connect that the thinking, feeling class of people used to have with the local and the regional have just evaporated. Only the politicians are mostly connected with their constituencies, using that connection for their own ends. They will cry with you if your mother passes away, right? But the artists and the thinking class have left their public sense of critical and irreverent attitude in order to cater to mere publicity. Forget bohemianism; the artists are not even connected to their mohalla. The ubiquity of the tentacles of such a culture that the medium allows and proliferates makes me see helplessness with an even greater sense of clarity. All relationships are also part of the same change; they operate in flux. That is real. In fiction or in a travelogue, you refract the different modes of this forlorn, paralyzed reality.
This helpless predicament becomes most vivid when I feel that my language is unable to reach people. I am a writer and I am unable to reach out with some serious concern or with some genuine humour to the people I write for? Just think of the level of vulnerability! One reason for that is my own limitation, I am sure. The other is that the levels of consciousness in my circle of readership are very very poor. I can only talk about the Hindi language readership. But I suspect the malaise goes deeper and is endemic. My purported readers are materialistic, wooly and thick. And the levels of feelings have gone numb.
I am particularly thinking of the lower middle class, the poor and the half-humans. They do not see or hear. Their senses are numb. They have been made numb. They are destined to remain confused. See, for generations they have not had adequate food, shelter, education. And it is not just about economic exploitation. There is this rich exploitation in the name of religion or caste. Have you seen lower middle class folks carefully? Their gait and height and body weight? They are dwarfs. Great literature cannot reach half-humans. No sir. What finer aesthetic qualities are we talking about? Shall I then dumb down my own capabilities? That means I am sacrificing life and art in order to do some kind of penance, right, for being born in such situations in the subcontinent?So, I only observe these half-humans—sometimes with compassion, but often with disgust and anger. I continue to observe lesser human beings, those even less fortunate than me. That is all that one can do. If I am able to do that with imagination and with honesty, I might discover a new language. I might. But at this point I see helplessness. Most vividly. Crystal clear.
HUG: What do you want?
Anil: See, uncertainty needs to be celebrated. I had this trip, of meditating. And believe you me, I used to do that truly well. But I was being released from maya gradually. I could feel the ascetic traits rising. So I pulled back. That is a dead end for an artist. One must revel in the tantalizing pulls and uncertainties of maya, of life itself. I embrace disillusionment with open arms. I have faith in the patterns of uncertainty. The frictive roughness of matter I endorse. It structures us, our movements and motives. And we keep on succumbing to temptations. Great!
See, I have been a reporter for the past 20 years in different media houses. I also have some tilling-farming possibilities in my village. I have small living spaces in towns too—which ordinarily one would call one’s own. Yes, I have known security. But these are all conditional forms of security, if you care to look closely. They push us towards maintaining status quo. Nothing new shall ever come of such dealings. I distrust equilibrium from within. This security net bores me utterly. Is it possible to explore our times by beginning from the certain moments of our lives? There is an uncharted way of life. There are no anchors in deep sea. Each one of us must discover that. No one—no friend or lover is going to be with you there. You take a leap. That is all.
I am trying, trying—to turn my back on security. Let us see. I am actually living with no security cover for the past 2 years. Last year, I had gone to Eastern Europe—for literary reasons. But I had no money to make do there. So, my readers provided me with that money. Call it gift, alms, charity or love. You name it. Five people, among themselves, collected a lakh of rupees for me. No questions asked. That was what I used for my trip. Such are the overlaps of wish fulfillment and precarity.
So I seek more restlessness. Chopping, staccato restlessness. Over and over. You practice such a mode so much that it gets internalized in your life. That might lead to some scathing reflections on reality? That is all.
A smoke now? Yes?