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Home > 2021 > Circulating a Poem is Naxalite terror! | Mustafa Khan

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 27, New Delhi, June 19, 2021

Circulating a Poem is Naxalite terror! | Mustafa Khan

Friday 18 June 2021

by Mustafa Khan

There is no limit to what the ire of state of India will go if literary pieces are sung and circulated. Literature reflects the actual life of the time in which it is enshrined in the poetic outburst. Poetry is the spontaneous expression of emotion, feeling and thought. The French revolution at the end of eighteenth century was a source of inspiration for freedom. The writers and poets of Romantic were so inspired they composed pomes. When the reign of terror came it again left a significant mark on them.

The Sahitya academy of Gujarat has condemned a poem of Parul Khakhar without understanding the milieu in which Parul lives and composes. The era resembles in many ways how the artist lives as is delineated by James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The fall from grace of the Irish nationalist leader Charles Steward Parnell was an emotional trauma. India in many ways has a prime minister who has risen to almost the same height. Daily reports of the plight of the people are really revolting: horrible and disgusting.

He chose to fight election in West Bengal where the situation was sensitive and very engrossing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Home Minister Amit Shah had made it a prestige issue even during the campaign in fighting the Delhi election. In fact Shah had thundered in a meeting with both arms raised and fists clenched that voters in Delhi should press the button with such force that electric vibration should make the people feel the shock in West Bengal. It was in the midst of corona virus raging through the country Modi and Shah threw all thoughts of concern about the pandemic to the wind and were chasing the election with reckless abandon. People were falling victim to the virus in countless numbers. Crematoriums could not cope with the stress and anxiety. In such a situation those who were helpless took refuge in the flowing waters of the Ganges and submerged their near and dear relatives into the water. They were caught in the fierce calamity and did not split hair in gigantic march of the catastrophe. The people were left in berserk of grief of loss! This cannot be anarchy and the dead and the relatives cannot bother about politics let alone “literary naxals”!

The chairman of the Sahitya Academy of Gujarat Vishnu Pandya calling the poem “pointless angst expressed in a state of agitation” smacks unlettered. “The said poem has been used as a shoulder to fire from by such elements who have started a conspiracy, whose commitment is not to India but to something else, who are Leftist, so-called liberals, to whom nobody pays any attention… Such people want to quickly spread chaos in India and create anarchy… They are active on all fronts and in the same way they have jumped into literature with dirty intentions. The purpose of these literary Naxals is to influence a section of people who would relate their own grief and happiness to this (the poem).” While in Gujarati, the editorial uses the term “literary naxals”.

The corpses spoke in one voice : “All is well, sab kuchh changa-changa”
Lord, in your ideal realm the hearse is now the Ganga

Lord, your crematoriums are too few; fewer the wood for pyres
Lord, our pall-bearers are too few, fewer yet the mourners
Lord, in every home Yama performs the dance macabre
Lord, in your ideal realm the hearse is now the Ganga

Lord, your smoke belching chimneys now seek respite
Lord, our bangles are shattered, shattered are our hearts
The fiddle plays while the towns are ablaze, “Wah, Billa-Ranga”
Lord, in your ideal realm the hearse is now the Ganga

Lord, your clothes are divine, divine is your radiance
Lord, the town entire sees you in your true form
If there be a real man here, come forward and say
“The emperor has no clothes”
Lord, in your ideal realm the hearse is now the Ganga.

एक साथ सब मुर्दे बोले ‘सब कुछ चंगा-चंगा’
साहेब तुम्हारे रामराज में शव-वाहिनी गंगा

ख़त्म हुए शमशान तुम्हारे, ख़त्म काष्ठ की बोरी
थके हमारे कंधे सारे, आँखें रह गई कोरी
दर-दर जाकर यमदूत खेले
मौत का नाच बेढंगा
साहेब तुम्हारे रामराज में शव-वाहिनी गंगा

नित लगातार जलती चिताएँ
राहत माँगे पलभर
नित लगातार टूटे चूड़ियाँ
कुटती छाति घर घर
देख लपटों को फ़िडल बजाते वाह रे ‘बिल्ला-रंगा’
साहेब तुम्हारे रामराज में शव-lवाहिनी गंगा

साहेब तुम्हारे दिव्य वस्त्र, दैदीप्य तुम्हारी ज्योति
काश असलियत लोग समझते, हो तुम पत्थर, ना मोती
हो हिम्मत तो आके बोलो
‘मेरा साहेब नंगा’
साहेब तुम्हारे रामराज में शव-वाहिनी गंगा

Khakhar’s sensivity has been very high and sharp to all that had happened in Gujarat under Modi and what followed in the wake of Modi taking reins of power in his hand in Delhi. She is also very much disturbed. It is logical that the inference cannot be other than what the film maker and poet Mehul Devkala says: “I can relate to what Khakhar is going through right now. In October 2015 when I decided to write a letter to the President of India (then, the late Pranab Mukherjee) regarding the increasing culture of intolerance in the country, I had requested well-known writers and artists from Gujarat for their signatures on the appeal. Most of them morally supported the cause but refused to put their names on the appeal. Nobody was ready to take the risk of speaking the truth.”

It was this pent up feeling and irrepressible thought of being fair that let her poetic urge to cloth them in her poem. She is not far different and distant from WB Yeats who anticipated Holocaust and more bloodshed in the Second World War.

“Many who had never heard her name are supporting her poem. This poem has crossed boundaries of languages. Nobody can stop its journey now. Not even the poet herself.”

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