National

Ram Mandir frenzy passes off peacefully for the time being

Last weekend as Ayodhya lay sieged by the Right-Wing politics, I was reminded of the autumn of 1992 when Right-Wing hate-mongers had not just destroyed the historic Babri Masjid but had also bared their fangs. That phase heralded the start of communal poisoning in the country; laced with double or triple speak and sheer destruction and anarchy. Sadly, to his day there has been no halting of the fascist intrusions into our everyday lives, making it difficult if not impossible to survive in the actual sense of the term. Ask the minority communities residing in an around Ayodhya and Faizabad or for that matter even in the other cities and towns and villages of the country? There is immense fear and growing apprehension of the communal outfits overtaking the very administrative machinery. After all, today’s political rulers in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre are equipped with RSS backgrounders and with that just about any form of injustice and anarchy cannot be ruled out.

In fact, to this day it is impossible to erase memories of the destruction of the Babri masjid and the aftermath. I can’t ever forget the particular shot of Murli Manohar Joshi gleefully hugging Uma Bharti and LK Advani… the trio standing at the site, celebrating, as the masjid was getting destroyed by kar sevaks. Mind you, all the three ‘destroyers’ of the Babri masjid were even amply rewarded, given top slots in the Central government!

Why don’t we, as a people, see what destruction lies ahead if communal outfits take over. They would ruin our country. Its time to speak out, especially the who’s who… In fact, this brings me to write about the latest song of Barbra Streisand – ‘ Don’t Lie To Me’ - wherein she hits out at President Trump with some very hitting words …no , mincing of words but a very direct attack on his policies and governance, asking him ‘ How do you sleep when the world is burning?’

Can any of our singing stars or even the non-singing stars take on the pack of lies uttered by the rulers of the day! Can anyone dare ask Prime Minister Modi or Chief Minister Yogi how can they rule when farmers are killing themselves, when children are dying of hunger and malnutrition, when minority groups are living in fear, when State unleashed encounters are turning out to be fake, when the State machinery cannot halt lynching, when the sheer rounds of deceit and destruction have begun to hit …Its time to ask these political rulers how they manage to sleep when hundreds and thousands of our countrymen sit hungry and upset.

HIMANSHU JOSHI  passes away…

Last week we lost another Hindi literary giant – Himanshu Joshi. Author of 16 short story collections, seven novels, several travelogues, Joshi had also done extensive research on the freedom fighter from Shahjahanpur, Ashfaqullah Khan.

What I liked about Joshi’s writings was the simple and non-complicated style. Perhaps, very much like him because on the several occasions I’d met him he came across as a simple person who spoke in that modest way about his writings, about his travels. He would love to talk about his family. He would tell us of his wife’s culinary skills. Together with that details of his trips to Norway as two of his sons had decided to settle down in Norway. His youngest son, Asit, had opted to stay back in New Delhi. I recall once when I had asked Joshi what does his youngest son do professionally, he had detailed, “earlier he was bringing out a magazine but then turned towards spirituality…sadhu type ka insaan hai, totally away from worldly matters and spends his time looking after my wife and I…without him we would have found it difficult to manage especially as we ageing and health problems have begun …and though I think of my village home in Uttarakhand very often but I know it will difficult to shift back to the mountains, so one has to survive here in New Delhi.”

And in the last four years, with Joshi’s health deteriorating rapidly, it is Asit who looked after his father singlehandedly. “My father had looked after us when we were children so its time to look after him …did everything I could do for him.”

For GHULAM ALI’s upcoming birthday on December 5…

Though I’ve met and interviewed ghazal supremo Ghulam Ali on three definite occasions but its best if I leave you with this verse of Kerala’s celebrated rebel poet, Balachandran Chullikad. Titled ‘Ghazal’, in this verse Balachandran Chullikad has managed to relay much…captured the gentleness holding out in Ghulam Ali’s renderings.

“December 31/

In the music hall of the night /

club /

Ghulam Ali sings /

I’m the singer of lost days …/

As the music flows, melting /

Urdu with the pangs of separation /

Into the soft resonance of Ali’s /

voice…/

A long pent up melody of grief /

breaks open the tremulous/

window of the harmonium /

Inside, the heart reverberates /

with/

The tabla of seasonless years /

As Ghulam Ali sings …”

 [end]

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