[Avinash Mishra is one of the most expressive, dangerous and suicidal voices in the world of literature today. The following reflection arises out of Agyeya’s Shekhar: Ek Jeevani, a novel published in two volumes. The writer, in a personal preamble, reminds us of Agyeya’s own words: “Shekhar was not any notable man. He was not even a good man. But he is trying to find himself with honesty within the palimpsest of human experience. May be he will not turn out to be a good companion, but if you care to travel with him till the end, your feelings about him shall not harden—that much I can assure. And who can tell, in this age, you and I may all be kindred characters. Perhaps you may discover a Shekhar within yourself, who is not great, or good, but he is forever agile, independent and honest, terribly honest.”]
A Biography of a New Shekhar
From the ashes of a few poems a life took birth. In order to live one must burn poems. Life seems to be at the centre of all projects and poetry lies beyond all such projects. Life is made. Poetry becomes—on its own. To become, on your own, is a test of dignity. But in order to become oneself, one has to keep away from all projects.
For ages, no one takes any interest in Shekhar’s past. Everyone wants to know about prospects for his future.And his present—somewhat like our eyes, which, after being accustomed to darkness, cannot easily square with a sudden gleam of light. In the words of Nazim Hikmet:
And he has no idea what all will happen to him
Only I know what will happen
Because I believed everything he believes
I loved all the women he’ll love
I wrote all the poems he’ll write
I stayed in all the prisons he’ll stay in
I passed through all the cities he will visit
I suffered all his illnesses
I slept all his nights dreamed all his dreams
I lost all that he will lose
‘A long lost future shall turn golden with the advent of feelings’—this belief had become the past within Shekhar’s nowness. The future tramples all feelings. The moments of deep introspection too disappear. Irregularity becomes the only regularity. The nights do arrive as your own, but their very being there makes them untimely.
Shekhar had learnt that love’s strains and traction are ultimately liberating. There is no more scrupulous a word than ‘No’ in love. When someone enquires: “Are you in love?”, there is no more precise and faithful a reply than ‘No.’
Give the cats a life of vagabondage
And to Shekhar, those roads that the cats cut across
Water never returns and that is the opulence of its existence
The river’s happiness is not the water, but the journey.
Shekhar never went anywhere. Not to go anywhere is to truly travel. Sometimes not to go itself is sufficient. In order to express an untrammelled hatred for the dunces and the dolts of this world.
Shekhar made an excuse of love so that he could pause. And he stopped in places where he sought a pause. He has never abandoned his steadily walking friends to hop into a car.Trains would try to lure him to those unknown, unheard of lands, but he did not choose the paths of animosity. An excuse of love is what he made, and stopped in the places where he wanted to pause. A little crazy Shekhar is not; meaning, he is – quite a lot.
18 days and Shekhar is still in the same pair of denims, and in those familiar pair of chappalsfor the past 3 years. Wife is happy with him at home and the mochi—the cobbler, outside. The landlord, like the universe, is unhappy.
When Shekhar was in class 12, he eloped with a girl, who is now his wife. His wife was looking for a tall sweep. She said “In the neighbourhood and in society there is a lot of dirt. I need a tall enough sweep.” In those days he used to look like Ajay Devgan and Ajay Devgan like him–Premi Aashik Awara Pagal Majnu Diwana. ‘Phool aur Kaante’ he had seen 11 times. The kind of swains you encounter in the Phool aur Kaante predicament are gross and uncivil louts. They taunt girls in public. But the girls finally married these louts because these uncouth, ill-bred ones were not scared of the villains—the khalnayaks. These lovers used to be the examples of the victory of loutishness over villainy and such girls stood as symbols for the victory of tall sweeps over dirt.
Shekhar likes labour. Not recognition. Salary, yes. Not awards. More than his rights Shekhar worries about his responsibilities. More than the Sundays he looks forward to Mondays. He knows that changing jobs does not mean transforming the world.
When Shekhar used to be unemployed a friend used to pronounce—“When you will start at the workplace, all revolution will vanish in thin air.” The world of friends did not have revolutions. Revolutions were only in the world of women. Women were not friends. Friends were unrevolutionary, job seeking. Once in a while they tried revolution in private but for that they needed women. The point of it all is that without unemployment and women, one cannot have revolution. But women in unemployment and revolutions at the workplace were impossibilities.
Shekhar likes jobs. Not bureaucrats. A little crazy Shekhar is not; meaning, he is. Quite a lot.
Ambition is a good thing. But Shekhar does not have that in him. Like all those other things which are thought to be good. But Shekhar does not have them. He was weak in calculation right from his birth. Now the whole world seems to tie him up in knots. At every step he encounters crossroads…
These days Shekhar can’t drink much. He gets bored.
He is not anxious about this fact. Rather, he is anxious that this information is not secret anymore.
Whenever Shekhar would return to the networks of transmission after achieving a certain noteworthy classicality, it would dawn upon him that whatever the ordinary is unable to perform, it would convert into culpability. And the things that it can control—are given the name of law. He believes that application, with the help of recognition, quickly turns itself into conservatism. With this, the music of life returns to the regularity of the seven notes. So he stays away from such applications that are comprehensible.
Shekhar can understand many languages. He can’t speak them. A little crazy Shekhar is not; meaning that he is, rather a lot.
Shekhar never gives his own example to people who have fallen into adversity. Others instantiate him. But not he. He gives medicines to the sick and never tells them that he himself is sick and there is no one to stand by his bedside. Later, such sick people give the example of Shekhar to others who have fallen ill. But never Shekhar himself. He gives medicines to the sick, not examples.
Someone follows Shekhar all the time. As he comes out of his house a man appears from the neighbourhood and follows Shekhar and after a while, he disappears. A girl comes to his side and all through the journey, stays by his side. She wants to traverse more than he would; she does traverse more than he does. Without bothering about his good wishes—shubhkamnayein. Commands, projects, cases, threats and illness follow him. News follows him. Selfishness follows him. Vexations, dithering, statistics, artifice and memory follow him. Wherever he goes, someone, something follows him. He runs hard even in sleep, breaks into profuse fits of sweat in nightmares.
Shekhar believes that not having faith in God is a deficiency. He hates all those ideologies that rob him of his God. His God is a tragic persona, a talented director who chortles from among the spectators. Under his direction Shekhar has acted in an unsuccessful film. The point at which he is now stationed is an extended interval. The point where he wants to arrive at is a tension-filled climax.
Shekhar has meagre holdings in his hand, his feet have more.
The original piece can be found at: https://tirchhispelling.wordpress.com.