3066 EM and the big HOOM
Jerry Pinto’s facebook status today ( 13 Sept 2012, 6:30PM IST).
Uploaded with his permission.
Written in October 2008
I just wanted to say that I went to a reading of the Sahitya Akademi and I came back with a little more utsah.
Dilip Chitre, speaking first perfect Hindi, then elegant Marathi and then English, named names. He asked whether creative writing could happen in times of terror. He asked whether it was reflected in our writing and whether we could choose to ignore it. He talked about the BJP and he named Thackeray and the Bajrang Dal and the terrorists and the naxalites. He said this with the air of a man who has nothing to lose. I was weeping at the end of his speech because I felt that I belonged to a tribe of people, writers, who still dare.
Then came Sunil Gangopadhyay. He read out a poem which had a title that said something like Now, we can’t laugh at each other’s beliefs. It was a badly translated poem but it talked about his tarakkipasand friend who now wears a ring because his health is bad, about his Marxvaadi friend with a huge Ganesha over the door, of his sense that the revolution has failed because we can no longer laugh at each other’s beliefs. It was a brave poem and one that made me think. I wish you could all have been there.
Later in the day, a Gujarati short story writer read out a short story about a Hindu woman catching a train and feeling terrified by the burqewaali next to her. And at the end of the journey, the burqewaali thanks the Hindu woman for being in the train because it is so difficult to travel alone. The train compartment is filled with the smell of her sweat and the hariyaali of the peas that someone is shelling and the fisherwoman’s tokri.
And there was a brilliant poem by a Manipuri writer named Sinha. He opens his window and the five elements wander into the room. They are earth and fire and air and water and ether. They announce they are there to kill him. “I want to die with an Indian bullet,” the poet says, “Kill me with an Indian bullet because I love Bharat.” We do not have Indian bullets, the elements answer because India does not make great guns. Indians don’t make anything well. Ask them to make plastic flowers and they make toothbrushes. What’s wrong with toothbrushes, the poet asks. “Well you can’t put toothbrushes in vases,” they reply. It was bizarre, it was allegorical, it was heartening.
A Hindi poet tells the fanatic, “Those matches you are carrying in your pocket? To burn someone else’s house? Don’t look now but they’ve set fire to your clothes.”
I was happy to be there.
I wish you could have been too.
Let’s shatter the silence.
Around Dalit injustice and atrocities committed on Hindus in the Valley and the branding of every Muslim as a terrorist and the attacks on Christians.
Peace! Shanti! Shalom!
PS: All translations mine. I will try and get originals but poets are not techsavvy in the main.