Monday, July 28, 2014

The Audacity of the Corrupt

So I met him today. He, of feminine voice and masculine arrogance, looked at me from underneath the glasses and complained to the person who had taken me for the meeting. 

"He makes too much noise, that this is loss to public exchequer and things like that." Said he, with such an indignance as if I had offered him some corrupt offer. He was visibly agitated. Agitated about my request to him and his colleagues to remain honest and fair.

I couldn't understand why. How could you be angry about someone who had wanted you to act honestly and honourably? But then he was. The government of the day has changed, but that government is busy getting resolved the fight of languages. The masses rise for a stupid struggle. Language, mine and yours, ought to be respected. Languages, one and all, are anyways dying for the lack of love, but then, that's another days debate.

I thought of another government officer, honest but timid due to hierarchy, gnawing at any pretence of lawful honesty with impunity of an outraged animal. A lonely and feeble voice asking me to take it up with seniors, government, someone, which could stop the cruel wheels of corruption and let him live with an easy conscience. That man had a feeble voice, speaking through hints and whispers. The contrast is stark. The feral force of felony is no match for docile dithering of decency. There is something wrong about the world we live in. The honest are in hiding and alone, the corrupt are singing in a cruel chorus. 

The corrupt isn't ashamed anymore. They mock the honest, and are blatant with each passing day. Those who promise to act against them, lose the evidence once they have power to act. Honesty is no more than a vehicle to electoral victory. It takes too much of a spine to act, status quo is easier and less demanding to the conscience lying supine in the battlefield, defeated and vulgar. The honest is silent and succumbing, the corrupt, blatant and audacious. Whatever happened to the power of truth? My soul swathe in lingering lament. I want to write and escape into my world, where truth still walks with head held high. That's why I am a writer, this world is too harsh and doesn't become me.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Life Is A Solitary Walk

The weather is still full of caprices and undecided on which way to go. The Sun is still brutal and unyielding, clouds are inconclusive. Such weather is perfect for brooding and pessimism. A weather like that diminishes the good, happy feeling and pronounces the pain which is consistent with sad, humid contours of a rainless day. 

It has been three years for a health-check which ought to have been annual. In the middle of this overwhelming, at times, unreasonably annoying days, I sat thinking couple of days back. I thought of my now near-regular 5-miles run, irregular diet and my general health, or rather not knowing the real state of it. 

For some reason, my mind kept on pulling to the absurd optimism in an impossible immortality and to the fact, that I could be dying in the middle of the unreasonable hope. I knew, a detailed peek into the functioning of my body was well needed, as I also knew, I waited stupidly for someone to drag me out of my slothful stupor to a hospital. Suddenly a eureka moment last week hit me. 

It is your life, you are the owner of this vessel, the master and the commander. Dying is a very lonely business, and to believe otherwise is nothing but naïveté. You might try to fool yourself by an imaginary deathbed surrounded by the relatives and friends. But nothing changes the fact that the journey further on is going to be solitary, if it all there is a journey beyond. It is often very hard to believe that this entire life, the struggle of existence is nothing but a walk to nothingness. We are there till a moment and then we are no more. A strange, quite discomforting fact, but could be the most true, nonetheless, truer than life. 

Even if life were an unending eternal journey, the time in world nothing more than a blemish on the azure, infinite sky that is time. The companionship, the relations all end in a futile failure. We need to own up life. We need to take it in our own unsteady hands as soon as we can have enough courage and strength to bear it. 

Well, this is the first health checkup done alone. Liberating, irrespective of the results. Results, well that is another story, merely tell, that you cannot outrun a bad diet. So food next on agenda after running. Take charge and make changes. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Writing and Kindness

I dabbled into literature almost since, well, forever. I would read thick books and doodle on the last pages of my engineering notebooks as a college boy and in the last pages math notebooks with neat blocks printed over the pages. Some felt it was poetry, but to my young mind which I always refer to a troubled soul which knew little and felt much, it was the only relief which my troubled soul could find. When I dig deeper into my soul and look at myself twenty year younger, searching for answers in written words, my own and of the greats whom I read with great sense of admiration and hope, I tend to believe my early reading could have sowed the seeds of my own discomfort with the world around me. Literature made me believe in the possibility of ideals. I guess that is a danger that every serious reader carries. That, and the possibility of eventually turning into a writer himself.

I went through both, belief in the possibility of a life which we read that it has a possibility of becoming and turning into a struggling writer myself, struggling not to earn the bread by writing, rather struggling to write. I would not vouch for others but for me, writing has always been a very private affair. I have always found it rather embarrassing to admit in public that I write. I wonder if I would ever be able to do a reading session of my writing in public, even as small as constituting two people, one of them being me. I wrote, I published, I told people about what I wrote with shy hesitation and difficulty. Writing it out was such a relief. Writing would wipe out tears, and lend a smile on grayest of the dawns. But the biggest and most satisfying thing was that it put me in the know of amazing people, fellow writers and poets. I came to know amazing people who would pat on my shoulders on foggiest nights and urge me to keep writing.

The general bonhomie and generosity which I found in writers and artisans is so different from any of the people in any walks of profession. That could be because all writers and artisans are essentially child from inside. We believe in hope and we live in the innocence of hope. Even the writers who wrote dark stories believe in a world which doesn't hesitate in taking sides. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that all writers work in perfect consonance with each other, forming a mutual admiration club. There are not-very-nice remarks which Hemingway made about Fitzgerald, but that never kept him away from holding the other in appreciation of talent of the other. That is the innocence of child and that is the courage of a learned man which allows him to treat conflicting views with dignity. Writing is talking to oneself put on paper. Writing is a writer’s private search for answers for he is dissatisfied with the idea of living the life in a way, merely because that is the way it has always been done. This capacity to self-analyze, to deliberate, to argue with one’s own intellect and to devote oneself to a life of perpetual suffering and eternal liberation is what a writer work on. That makes a writer kinder soul. In fact, without a kind, forgiving soul one cannot be a good writer. One may argue that there are many writings which are written in anger. But I would then contest that in anger one can do many things, shout, scold, bad-mouth, fight and kill (if one has the courage), what for the life of me would prompt a man to pick a piece of paper or a ream, if one is really very, very mad and start writing with bad writing in furious strokes. It is an attempt to understand the anger and the source of it, an attempt to thereby forgive. It is bad for a bad person to be a writer and vice-versa. The purpose of art is to help us be kinder from inside.

There ought to be a sense of inner decency which should rise when you step into the realm of art, even if you want to become a loner like Salinger because you want to devote time to your craft or even because you feel that kindness you find growing on you, makes you vulnerable to the harsher world around you. I feel privileged to have found my calling in Arts, because it makes me a better person (well, my daughter is another reason, but I’ll let writing share the credit), and more than that I feel so happy to have found people so kind in this common calling. If you tend to write, do write even if it feels killing on some days for you discover your potential for grace and decency, your real station in life through art. If you do not write, and read, do find time for it. Kurt Vonnegut wrote,” Don’t give up on books. They feel so good- their friendly heft. ..Any Brain worth a nickel knows books are good for us.” Writing makes us a better man, helping us discover old values which we long thought dead like courage and grace.


PS. What prompted this post was a rather undeserved act of friendship by Marta who has always been kind to my literary pursuit and recently sent across two wonderful children’s book for my daughter, Innocence and Wonder and Dinky's Quest- The Journey Begins. Both the books are amazing gift for little kids with brilliant poetry and simple yet forward looking language, engaging any child. But for me it was the gesture which set me thinking and therefore, this post. It was sudden, it was extraordinary and it was overwhelming. I wish Marta best for her writing and sincere gratitude. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Making A Statement- The Absurdity of Being Tapas Paul

A man (and Woman) is known by the words he or she uses. We rise in words and we fail, falter and decay in the squalor of words. There isn’t only an ornamental appeal to right words spoken at the right moment for the right reasons. They are the ambassadors of the king that they serve, the ambassadors to the minds and souls they represent. Words people speak tell us about the moral leanings of people and station they occupy in their own social evolution.

Our leaders ought to represent the best in us. When they fail us, their failure ought to shake us. The passivity of our reaction to the misdemeanor of our leaders define the future we are setting up for our kids. We are thereby creating the world for them. Tapas Pal of TMC has made utterances of late, on three occasions which ought to wake us up out of our slumbers. Intellectuals of Kolkata sided with TMC against the communists in the recent elections. But then, the reign of Communists was no better. The number of goons and anti-socials has not changed in the political scenario of Bengal. They have merely changed their political affiliations. TMC did not invent a new kind of politics as everyone hoped. They merely appropriated the politics of communist violence. It is often surprising to me as to how could the intellectuals of Bengal tolerate such violent politics. But then, intellectuals are often through history tried to create and run their own society of violent aggression. Those who fought and spilled blood were provided the provided cover of legitimacy by the power of arguments created by the intellectuals. Intellectuals lived happily in the control they had over less intellectual and more aggressive souls over the larger populace which had neither the intellect nor the strength of violent aggression. That is until the time when they realized that they have been all the time riding the tiger that they cannot get up of.

The violent one, the one without moral scruples, rose and thundered to kill and maim and rape the voices of dissent. The intellectuals realize the tiger that they rode on and to their dismay, realize that the power now was flowing in the reverse direction. They had to live with a pretense of their control. They need to come out on television and offer tepid defenses with glorious words. The tiger on which they were riding cannot be disembarked from. So Derek O’Brian at first avoids the Television to announce the grand apology. For the party chief, the matter gets closed with the apology. For the nation, it is a time to introspect.

Is this the kind of leaders we deserve? The leaders who incite the followers to kill and rape the opposition serves some strange sense of absurd machismo and invites applause in the close circles, much before it brings criticism on wider stage. Who are the people that applaud? Who are the people that tolerate this indecency of words? Do we realize the monsters we are creating as we allow it to go unpunished. Even violence, in a purer form speaks of righteousness and some glory as long as the cause is just and opponent is worthy. To propose violence against those who need to be defended is biggest cowardice. A man ought to know that. They are sorely aware of their own deficiency of ideology and they try to fill the gap which stares at their smallness with rhetoric. Noise, for them is only cover of their mental bankruptcy. 

They are the orphans of democracy, the errant child of a nation hungry for leadership of the righteous. But then, the applause to such stupid comments tells us about our own deficiency as a citizen. Worshipers of words are ridiculed and those with lack of words and lack of thoughts are hailed as heroes. They have no courage in their own ideas and therefore violence is their only argument. That is what plagues our society at large. Debates end in expletives. We can’t articulate because we cannot think. We are failing as a nation. Where the libraries are burnt, inflammatory words flow in the air. I have a problem in the statement- it’s only words. Words define who we are. We need the leaders who respect words and speak words which can be respected. Then only they can be guardians of our thoughts and only then can they teach us to rise in our collective minds. Every act of violence kills a word in the dictionary and every violent word marks the birth of an animal, which hisses with poisonous whiffs. They are the people who ought to be suffocated out of public space, they ought to be shunned out of public offices. They are lesser men, for they neither have thoughts glorious enough, nor words graceful enough to cover them. 

The numbers are shifty and they move. In Bengal, they moved from CPI-M to TMC and they will again. That is their nature. Mob is shifty. A mob is never loyal, they move to the side of power. Till the time, the intellectual with righteous indignation strikes again and creates a new axis of evil. We must be careful of the culture we build. It defines the nation. Intellectual movements must not try to hide behind brute force and must fight to create space on intellectual platform. The fight will be longer, but you will not be deceived in believing in a false change where one villain is replaced by another one. If you create to monster to fight another, you will end up with monsters ruling the world with humanity, feeble and outnumbered. Sanity is only logical counter-point to insanity. 

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