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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 40, New Delhi, September 19, 2020

SSR Drama, Silencing of young voices, Pamela Rooks lives on ... | Humra Quraishi

Friday 18 September 2020, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

September 16, 2020

In Mumbai, Sushant Singh Rajput’s death is turning into a full-fledged political war between the BJP and the Opposition. Its also being ‘used’ by starlets and socialites to get into the political arena and grab all possible mileage. An ambitious lot are to be seen all over on the small screen, coming with their politically-tilted theories. Pathetic!
And here, in the national capital, the investigation in the North East Delhi pogrom is turning out to be more than blatant hounding. It gets rather too obvious that anyone who dared to raise their voice against the CAA and also against the pogrom that followed, are on the arrest list!

Nah, no arrest of any of the Right-Wing hate speech givers but only of those who dared to stand up and question the political mafia. Its writ large that in this regime a citizen cannot dissent or get critical. Where is that democratic space? Nowhere! The manner in which activists and academics are getting hounded is more than worrying….Young students have told me that in recent times, they are very cautious; they dare not pick up arguments or verbal fights with any of the Hindutva characters. Why? Because it’s easy for the police to throw anti-national charges together with a ‘terror angle’! They pointed out that for the establishment there could a hundred definitions of terror and terrorism and terrorists! They also focused on the ‘disappearance’ of JNU student, Najeeb Ahmad, who has been ‘missing’ for the past many months, after he had heated arguments with the Right-Wing students on the JNU campus.

In fact, Umar Khalid’s recent arrest came as no shocker, as the Right–Wing establishment had been hounding him right from the Spring of 2016. If you recall in the Spring of 2016, when chaos erupted on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus with several students leaders targeted, Umar Khalid’s name also came up. The very first day we heard the then Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, come out with a bunch of theories along with the strain that Umar Khalid had been travelling to Pakistan as part of terror striking activities. The next day, when it emerged that Umar Khalid couldn’t have travelled to Pakistan as he possessed no passport, there came in no apology from the establishment but yet another bizarre twist to that tale. A new destination was fitted to that tale — Leftist Umar Khalid travelled to Nagpur as a courier boy for the Naxals! Mind you, if it had emerged that Khalid was a practising Musalmaan then his name could have been linked to SIMI or Al -Qaeda or even the ISIS!

It is more than dismaying to see young voices getting silenced in one way or the other. Not taking you very far back but in these recent years what happened on the campus of the Hyderabad Central University and also on the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Allahabad University, Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Banaras Hindu University, Jadavpur University, were pointers to the fact that the State machinery is used to silence the young, to throttle any of those cries.
I know I’m not very original in stating that an establishment that silences the young can be termed ruthless…Instead of encouraging young voices to speak out, the establishment seems set to throttle every single voice. Crushing and choking the cries of the young.

PAMELA ROOKS LIVES ON, THROUGH HER DOCUMENTARIES AND FILMS

For the last 10 years as October nears, October 1 to be nearer precision, I recall of the tragic passing away of writer and filmmaker, Pamela Rooks. In 2005 Pamela had met with a freak car accident in New Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area, whilst she and her partner, Richard Holkar, were returning to their home from the airport And with that accident she slipped into a coma and lay in that coma condition for over 4 years. She had passed away on October 1, 2010.

Pamela Rooks died young but not unsung. She was a theatre artist turned journalist turned writer and filmmaker. And its said that during one of the journalistic assignments, that took her to interviewing Conrad Rooks, she fell in love with that famous film- director (who had made /directed the film - Siddhartha). Intense love affair between Pamela Juneja (Yes, that was her maiden surname ) and Conrad Rooks. The two got married but the marriage didn’t last long. The couple have a son, who after the marriage broke, had gone to live with the father.

Pamela stayed put in New Delhi, in the Defence Colony home of her parents and started directing films. Her first feature film was - Miss Beatty’s Children …Its based on the novel she had written with the same title – Miss Beatty’s Children. Her second feature film was based on Khushwant Singh’s novel - Train to Pakistan. It’s around that time I had met her several times at Khushwant’s home. And by that time Pamela had found a companion in Richard Holkar - the son of the Maharaja of Indore, Shivaji Rao Holkar.

Her fairy tale life came to a close with that road accident. Technically alive in that coma condition for over four years, till the end came in autumn 2010.

WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY - September 21

I cannot let the World Alzheimer’s Day – September 21, pass by without focusing on this disease, where memory cells start to shrink and with that shrinks the very life of the affected.

Though A. D. is spreading out in our country but where’s the general awareness! Nowhere! This, when the underlying basic crux to it is awareness, as its often mixed up with dementia and also with mental disorders. Also, stands out the fact that there is no cure for it, save a lot of comfort and compassion should be provided by the caregivers to the affected.

I can continue writing page after page on this disease as my father was affected it and so I’m aware of those details to it but its best if I leave you with these lines of Kamala Das…In fact, each Alzheimer’s Day these lines come to the fore, as they best capture the crux to it.

These lines of Kamala Das from her poem titled - ‘Alzheimer’s’ (from her poetry book - ‘Closure’):

Alzheimer’s disease
is a spider
deadlier even than
the tarantula.
It weaves its web
within the brain,
a web rugged like
wrought-iron
and thought-proof.
My mother
For seven years had
Alzheimer’s.
It looked out
through her eyes
although she was
silent as a safe
plundered bare,
emptied of memories,
her disease talked.

Like a Buddhist monk,
it said life is sorrow …’

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