Shiv Prasad Joshi
That there is a well-planned pattern of attacks is quite evident. One does not need to be thrilled with any prophetic prediction in this regard. People shall continue to be killed. Our surroundings are suffused with a kind of painful despondency. Various regions and sects are despairing. Canker and curses arise from odd corners. It is not that every cry for the redressal of injustice reverberates only from the places from where they can be heard loudly. All peril won’t come at one go.
Attacks against the freedoms of unity, religion and expression are not new. Such things have been in practice, as per expected convention, since the time of Manto.
The lines penned by such poets are so dear to us and to many fresh young minds and souls. We live and quote such words and phrases and we move ahead. When hawks and falcons dare us, like penetrating light from a torch we focus such phrases on those predators. Some respected writers in Hindi have shown indifference and have been generally inactive. Such reactions surprise the younger generation and make them mute and taciturn. Perhaps the same patterns are being enacted in other languages too.
But gentlemen, those who are returning awards are not ‘a tired lot.’ These are courageous people,fired with the energy of resistance. This is not an immediate and easy route to heroism.Nor is this any Bollywood masala film—now showing. No, this does not seem to be an emotional outburst or useless sentimentality under whose aegis tales of martyrdom are to be written.
This is no slapdash superficiality. Do you consider this whole thing in such a light?
History turns back and demands something today. Some people wrap themselves in blankets and, turning the other way, doze off. Forget Sahitya Akademi. Look at the writerly angst which, arising out of their artistic creations, has turned out determined resolutions. This is spreading. Is this a disease or an infection?
Till what time shall you wait? What will happen when you shall say—yes, now we have reached the limit? Do you need the sound or the effects of a loud explosion so that all limits can be shattered?
Why shall you bear this like a crucifix? It is not that Christ wanted to bear the crucifix willfully. It was brought upon him. Are you trying to say that this predicament has been thrust upon you? This crucifix does bear its full weight upon you every single day and it crushes you. But what about those who are being bludgeoned to death?
Do these folks harbour any torturous nail of affliction that pierces your soul straight to make you shriek in pain? Instead of carrying this cross of remorse and fanning this restiveness of not being able to make a difference, why not take on this responsibility of the collective? How can you make this the solitude of all your agony and criticality? In such times. How can you remain isolated?
Why are you getting yourself mired in the metaphor of bearing the crucifix? You are doing that anyway—in your everyday suffering and torment, in violence and in struggles. How and when did this idea of awards get entangled and started being counted within the axis of your writerly existence?
You were not born to bear the cross. Your aim was to compose poetry. You did care about this troubled and exploited society. Hence you began writing in the first place. So, where did this crucifix come from?
And what is this thing about exposing and unmasking? Why are our dear poets getting entangled in idioms? Why are they speaking through the nodes of a certain righteousness, as if whatever they say must be the correct and proven truth? Why is resistance being so downgraded—wherefore this skepticism?
So, when we see this collective spirit in Kannada, Punjabi, Konkani and Marathi, why is there this proliferation of camps and coteries in Hindi? Why do many different-hued flags flutter over its shamiana? As if it is still the British Raj or some pre-Raj scenario. What about a common tent, a single camp? Who may be infiltrating these camps?
It is not surprising that what the wealthy and the powerful of the nation believe is more or less what you have come to believe. Most smart-aleck media pundits also arrive at similar conclusions. And the writers are being said to be of two kinds. Look, Chetan Bhagat has also become a speaker with an opinion. Elements like Bhagat are giving us nuggets of wisdom. And people like Anupam Kher too, always acting the sentinel toany criticism ofthe PM. They have the gumption to seek accounts from the writers. Even someone like Shashi Tharoor, the controversial and controversialist, feels the need to offer his opinion. Stay a writer if you are one; do not trespass into politics. And the sound of this terrible laughter–that reverberates from Delhi to the farthest qasbah-mohalla of India—Bow before me! Bow down or else—should no one speak anything about that? Should all turn supplicants? Is that even possible?
I don’t know why all these learned, respected souls seem to be floundering. This time we are correct. This is not vanity, just self-worth. Not cleverness, it is courage. Not selfishness, it is conscience. Our conscience is in perfect sync with our soul. This is permanent uprightness. Please do return to this uprightness. This return shall mean an admission into the future. The future has always been created by uprightness. Not through this flailing and flittering.
From what custody shall you frame your next creation? What heartstrings shall trill and tremble before your shut eyes? Surely Muktibodh, had he been around, would have said on our behalf—what is your politics, partner? It is not a cliché to have converted such a great piece of writing as Andhere Mein into a cliché so that every ‘sated’ soul might no more speak on and about it. Stop drinking Andhere Mein like a cold drink or like any other drink.
What can I say! We are all culprits of Hussain. His centenary, this. Is remorse such a short-lived straying that it can be distributed thin, so easily? Can it not happen that as a mark of honour to the unmatched ustaad of Indian tradition,Hussain, people arrive at that threshold where this great artist, in his ennui and sadness, has left an umbrella as it is?
You can find the original version below. Our gratitude: