Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Artist Makes his Funeral Pyre


Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a kingdom.  The King was very particular about law and order, discipline and cleanliness, uniformity and conformity, and so on.  So he ordered that no one should criticise the administration overtly or covertly, explicitly or implicitly.  He had soldiers and spies throughout the kingdom to catch anyone who disobeyed his orders. 

Divyanshu was arrested by one of those countless, nebulous officers.  His crime was that he had painted a portrait of the King.  In fact, the King looked more handsome and imposing in the portrait than he really was.  The King was displeased by something about the portrait.  Divyanshu was never told what it was that displeased the King.  He thought he had made a magnificent portrait.  He had placed in his prayer room along with his gods.  But the King was angry.  Without even seeing the portrait.

Divyanshu was given the usual punishment.  He was ordered to set up his own funeral pyre before sunset.  At sunset he would be executed and placed on the funeral pyre.  He had the liberty to make the funeral pyre as beautiful as he wished.

With whatever pieces of wood he was given, Divyanshu began making his funeral pyre as beautiful as he could.  Being an artist he had a clear vision of how the funeral pyre should look like.  He made it on a platform.  He gave it the shape of classical tombs he had seen in pictures.  By the time his body would be burnt the platform would catch fire too.  The entire thing would collapse with a thud which he imagined to be loud enough to shake the heavens.  Artists have such big egos that they imagine heavenly participation in their funeral too.

“You idiot!” The soldier who was guarding him shouted.  “Finish it up quickly; there’s only an hour left for sunset. What do you think you are making?  A monument?”

What else?  Divyanshu asked himself.  Don’t I have this freedom at least?  What sort of an artist would I be otherwise?

The sun was beginning to show signs of sinking beyond the horizon.  The soldier approached.  He looked at the funeral pyre with some dismay.  “Beautiful!” he mumbled in spite of himself.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The bastard and the dwarf

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not.  Make it your strength.  Then it can never be your weakness.  Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”  Tyrion Lannister, a character in Game of Thrones gives this counsel to Jon, another character, who is a bastard.  

Tyrion Lannister
Lannister is a dwarf and all dwarfs are bastards according to his experience.  “All dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes,” he says.  No man likes to admit that he has sired a dwarf.  It is better to cast aspersions on his wife. Since his mother died giving birth to him, he could not ask her who his real father was, says Lannister sardonically.  He goes on to say that “All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs.”

Jon is a bastard.  But he has great qualities which make him better than many other people.  It is only the fact that he is a bastard that deters him from discovering his own greatness.  As long as he keeps fighting that fact he is going to remain just there: fighting an unalterable fact.  Come on, Jon, you are a bastard, admit it, let the whole world call you that, the world will, the world has no better sense, the world loves to poke your wound, rub salt on it and then watch you writhe in pain.  That’s what Lannister is saying without saying it.  Jon understands.  He understands that he doesn’t have to be apologetic for being a bastard.  How can that be his fault anyway? 

The world loves to put on your head other people’s faults.  You are a girl, let us say.  You happen to be walking along the road a little late in the evening.  You are raped.  Then it becomes your fault.  Why did you walk on the road so late in the evening when you know, or should have known, that a woman’s place is home at such hours?  Why did you wear such a dress that drew the attention of the boys?  Don’t you know that boys are boys?

Being poor is a crime too.  You don’t have a right to choose your food if you are poor.  Your children may die in the hospital if you are poor.  Belonging to certain religions can be a crime too.  Anything can be a crime, in fact, depending on which side you are. 

The biggest criminals may be perceived as the greatest heroes.  Depends on which side they are. 

So what do you do?  Forget that you are a bastard.  And just be the bastard.

Jon understood what Lannister was saying.  For a moment Tyrion Lannister the dwarf stood tall as a king before Jon the bastard.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Yet another pipedream

Prime Minister Modi’s demand from his ministers that they should not wallow in luxury, instead should focus on delivery and implementation of schemes is as welcome as his promises like Swachh Bharat, eradication of corruption, elimination of poverty, depositing ₹15 lakh in every Indian’s bank account by bringing back all the black money from abroad, and so on.  Will this latest demand make any difference to India?  The other promises have made no difference whatever so far.

A lot of money is collected in the name of Swachh Bharat cess and Bharat has remained as filthy as it ever was.  Thousands of crores of rupees accrued by way of the cess.  What happened to all that money?  At least some people could have got jobs if they were employed to clean up the filth using those funds. 

When it comes to corruption, PM Modi’s BJP stands one notch above all the other parties in India.  There are more cases of corruption against BJP people than against those of any other party.  In Kerala where I live the BJP leaders have been accused of historical corruption charges especially because BJP does not even have foothold in the state. Even before the party could win more than a seat electorally in the state, the party members have started amassing wealth.

The poor are being eliminated through strategic measures such as what happened in Yogi’s UP recently with the children. That is BJP style eradication of poverty.   Eliminate the poor and poverty will automatically be eradicated.  After Narendra Modi came to power, the unemployment rates in the country have risen skyhigh.  No one bothers.  Because those who can bother have been bought off.  Bharat has become a country of buying and selling.  You and I are just commodities in the cow kingdom.

Black money! Don’t even mention the ₹15 lakh we were supposed to get according to the electoral promises of Modi.  That was just rhetoric. 

Like the present rhetoric about ministers giving up opulence.  These ministers are people who have lived opulently for years by swindling the lower caste people and stealing their little savings.  Now the whole of Bharat is a low caste, untouchable (unswachh) nation that has to be swindled.  Just as the Mughals did. As the British did.  As Congress did with Indira Gandhi onwards.  As Modi and Shah are doing now. 

I’m lucky I can afford to write this at least.  I know that soon all criticism will be silenced. There will be Rama Rajya where the chaste Sita will be confined to the flames.

The Artist Makes his Funeral Pyre

Fiction Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a kingdom.   The King was very particular about law and order, discipl...