Thursday, January 28, 2016

Heart of Darkness

The novel, Black Hole, continues.

Story so far:

Chapter 1 - The Original Sin:  Kailash Public School in Delhi is donated by Sitaram Rana to Nityananda Baba of Devlok Ashram.  The ashram was founded by Kailash Baba along with the material assistance of Amarjeet and Mahendra Rana.  An Anglican Pastor, Aaron Matthews, is also an integral part of the ashram.

Chapter 2 - A Gospel: Ishan Salman Panicker is one of the English teachers at Kailash Public School.  His foot is fractured the day the school's management changes.  Lying in bed he begins to write a gospel which has its roots in Shillong. He was born of Farishta Kharmawphlang and Shankara Panicker  in Shillong. Shankara disappeared the day Ishan was born; it was during Indira Gandhi's Emergency. Father Joseph Kunnel becomes Ishan's guardian.  Ishan, however, cannot accept the gospel taught by the priest. He becomes "the lost sheep" for the priest, while for Ishan the priest is a worshipper of a helpless god on the cross.   Unable to bear the redemptive love of Father Joseph anymore, Ishan leaves Shillong along with his wife Jenny and takes up a teaching job at Kailash Public School without knowing that Father Joseph has links there too. 

Chapter 3, 'Heart of Darkness', begins here: 

Read on:


The horror! The horror!”

The last words whispered by the dying Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness haunted him like a phantasmagoric voice while Amarjeet struggled with his mysterious illness.  He had given up Conrad and his colonial darkness the day he completed his post-graduation in English literature with a third division.  Why are they haunting him now three-and-a-half decades later though he had never returned to them at any time?

Amarjeet Baba had returned from Ahmedabad in Gujarat a few days back with pain all over his bruised body.  He had gone there at the invitation of Seth Pyarelal Manilal to open a branch of Devlok ashram at Maninagar in Ahmedabad.  Seth Pyarelal Manilal was a rich banker who knew not what to do with all the wealth he had amassed in his remarkably long life.
 
“Pandit ji told me that it was time to enter the spirituality stage,” the banker explained to Amarjeet Baba.  He could not control the loud fart that escaped from beneath his massive buttocks while he kept munching almond and cashew nuts with a pinch of raisins.  Sanyasa is the fourth and last stage in the life of every person, according to the Hindu dharma, Amarjeet knew.  The sanyasi renounces the world in quest of spiritual release from human bondage. 

“You are not eating anything,” said the banker to the Baba whose mind was wandering over the twenty acres of land which the banker was donating to his ashram.  The banker picked up a sweetmeat from one of the many plates arrayed on the low table between them.

“God will grant you all your wishes,” Amarjeet said as he stood up holding in his left hand all the documents related to the transfer of the land to Devlok ashram and raising the right hand in a gesture of blessing.

“My driver will drop you at the railway station.”  The banker said. The driver had picked up the Baba from the railway station a few hours back.

The car did not reach the station, however.
 
A fierce communal riot was raging in Ahmedabad while the Baba was walking over the twenty acres being donated to him.  Neither he nor the banker was aware of the riot.  By the time the driver got smell of it, the car was already caught in it.

There was a lot of discontent particularly among the Muslims in Ahmedabad ever since many of the textile mills were shifted to Surat a few years ago.  The Muslims were skilled weavers but were being denied jobs in the rat race that had overtaken the remaining mills.  When the going got tough, the dominant community got going. 

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had already sent its roots deep into the Hindu soil of the city and had vowed to reclaim all other soils.  Hindustan is for Hindus, M. S. Golwalkar had declared through the whiskers that covered his mouth totally.  “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture.”  The gospel according to Golwalkar was very clear and direct unlike other gospels including the Vedas and the Upanishads.  “The non-Hindu people may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, not even citizens’ rights.”

The gospel penetrated into the psyche of the people with a feverish fervour.

In spite of the gospel, the Muslims were celebrating as usual the Urs festival at the tomb of a Sufi saint who had sung that the whole world is a marketplace for love.  By love are we all bewildered, stupefied, intoxicated...

Some Hindu sadhus were bringing their cows back home after the day’s grazing wherever the cows liked.  The Hindu cows apparently did not appreciate the Muslim music and dance.  Some of them began to run wild.  In barely a few moments, the people started punching their own gospel into each other’s bones. 
  
It was only the next morning that somebody noticed the slashes on the hides of some of the cows.  Someone had wielded a knife in order to make them run wild. 

Amarjeet Baba had come out of his car which was caught in the violent chaos.  He tried to run for safety but was knocked down by one of the cows.  How many cows with slashes on their hides, how many people with bewildered love in their hearts, ran over him?  He would never know.  He had somehow managed to creep out and hide himself in a sewage ditch until dead bodies were all that was left around him.

Hours after all signs of life had vanished from the bloody site, Pyarelal Manilal’s driver discovered the Baba crouching on the side of the ditch covered with filth all over his bruised body.  He took him back to the Seth’s mansion whose marble bathtub sponged up the stench and washed away the filth from the Baba’s body.  The Seth was generous enough not only to get the local traditional vaidya to attend to the Baba’s bruises but also to ask his driver to drive him all the way to his ashram in Delhi. 

“The horror!  The horror!”  Kurtz’ ghost appeared again and again as the Baba lay in his bed.  With each appearance the pain shifted from one part of his body to another.

“It’s time for me to leave the marketplace of love,” he mumbled.

“Pardon, Baba ji,” said Nitin straining his ears and bending down to the Baba.

Amarjeet Baba had sent for Nitin.

“Sit down,” the Baba motioned.  “You will soon take my place.  You will succeed me as Nityananda Baba.”



PREVIOUS PARTS

Chapter 1: The Original Sin


Chapter 2: A Gospel

2.2 Dkhar
     2.4 Cry from Calvary
     2.5 The Lost Sheep
     2.8 The Y Chromosome

Next: Hitler, Kamasutra and Non-Being


5 comments:

  1. How I had loved reading Conrad years back. You brought back memories of the text. Use of such emblematic words like the horror, the horror, from a baba keen on buying the land, heightens the absurdity of it all. The wounds on cows, the trampling over of the baba's body who is shamelessly strong enough to live amidst the pool of dead bodies makes the narrative a poignant and interrogative commentary on the state of things.

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  2. How I had loved reading Conrad years back. You brought back memories of the text. Use of such emblematic words like the horror, the horror, from a baba keen on buying the land, heightens the absurdity of it all. The wounds on cows, the trampling over of the baba's body who is shamelessly strong enough to live amidst the pool of dead bodies makes the narrative a poignant and interrogative commentary on the state of things.

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    Replies
    1. This is just the beginning of the chapter. As the chapter unfolds it becomes clear why Amarjeet's life has to end in the way Kurtz's did.

      The riot described here actually took place in Ahmedabad in 1969.

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  3. You have explained the mechanics of a riot admirably. People have this mischievous trait, which gains nothing but a nefarious pleasure provoking others. Intriguing story!

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    Replies
    1. It is just a few villainous people who actually convert religion into a political tool. Mediocre people don't think for themselves. Their sentiments can be worked either way: love or hatred.

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