Remembering Fanon

‘Intellectual alienation is a creation of middle-class society. What I call middle-class society is any society that becomes rigidified in predetermined forms, forbidding all evolution, all gains, all progress, all discovery. I call middle-class a closed society in which life has no taste, in which the air is tainted, in which ideas and men are corrupt. And I think that a man who takes a stand against this death is in a sense a revolutionary.’
-Frantz Fanon. Black Skin, White Masks

This ‘death’ of living beings who refuse to step beyond their comfortable mediocrity, pose as sycophants to the people above them, and take pride in mocking and asserting their superiority over the people below them, brings more grief, to me, than anger. To stand against such dormancy is, indeed, a revolution. But why is the middle-class the way it is?

Dear Seagulls

Dear Seagulls,

Will you come another day
To nibble the crumbs from my hands
Rest a little and fly away
Leaving bits of Kashi sands?

When you sway over silver waters,
Shrouded by the holy chants,
Do you wish to linger longer,
Or do you miss the Siberian lands?

Something is better than nothing

25 days and here I present my first Oil painting!

Have you ever been scared to finally start something which you had always wanted to since quit a long time in your life?
The fears that trail you are way too many. Self-expectations keep haunting you, and the desire to stand firm on it, too, just so that you don’t end up disappointing yourself. The pessimism generated from your failures overshadows your ‘little’ accomplishments. You say ‘Little’ because you have become quite habitual of undermining yourself and your momentary happiness because of the unexpected emotional outcome you faced at the edge of the ‘gigantic’ flops. These defeats you know were nothing but the hopes your one half of the soul had on the other half.

The first few days of your new ‘Enterprise’ may make you feel like a pilgrim who was once quite excited but now seems to be losing the sense of purpose of the journey. Be it because of others having a better pace at learning than you or because you ended up making way too many mistakes right in the beginning. Eizekiel was a little more pessimistic than me for I believe that to have started the journey itself is a great thing. It’s a cycle. You hope, you begin, you doubt, you pause, you stoop, you think and then you begin again. Just remember that you shouldn’t ever stop. Be that pilgrim, that traveller who extracts something out of every city she goes through and pulls out didacticism from every sight she witnesses and from every blunder she makes. Be someone who’ll end up satisfied, not by defining the binaries of the triumph and defeat  but by merging them into one tale and calling it a miniature version of life. Be glad at you at least desired and attempted to do something. Something is better than nothing, after all.

Those were the few words I said to myself before I began my new enterprise- Oil painting. Hope they help you too. 🙂

,

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
~Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

When and where did the human inside us disappear?

I always wondered why people questioned the utility of subjects that taught people to act more like humans. I knew that those who have utter disregard for arts and humanities are the ones who really need to study them. What’s so embarrassing to learn about the existence of your own species? Why so much disrespect for humanity?

In a country like ours, where the majority lives hand to mouth, we know why earning becomes so essential for survival. To pursue one’s dream of travelling, learning something one loves, doing a job that utilizes one’s talents and not helplessness, is a matter of privilege and an option available only to a few. A significant fraction of the population doesn’t have alternatives to decide on a career. But why is earning associated with only a few kinds of professions and not the others? What kind of blocks have we constructed in our minds, and confined ourselves to that have created a divide between different professions/talents and assigned them values in degrees? (Same can be said of emotions)
Such ideological blocks have driven people to distance themselves from things that demand more than just cognitive intellect, require them to be one with nature, undergo transformations and not be limited by definitions. It has robbed them of their leisure and forced them to behave more like money-minting machines. Music, as a career, is a no, no – Everyone loves listening to songs but thinking of music as a career is looked down upon by the majority. Comedy? Not at all. The same goes for all forms of fine arts. Subjects like history, sociology, philosophy, political science, anthropology, psychology, etc. are exposed to similar dismissive ridicules. So when someone or an institution does give you a chance to do all of these things, and to some extent feel at par with ‘others,’ isn’t that amazing?

I remember the number of times I had to confront the questions of relatives, friends and older people as to why I opted for Social sciences after college (the best of all decisions that I have ever taken), and what good would I get out of it. I was more sad than angry and realized that those who condemn such subjects should be reading them even more than others to realize their innermost prejudices, chagrin for sensitivities, inclination to choose careers that showed a higher cognitive intellect and lesser time to reflect on the world, and it’s intricacies. In short, according to them, whatever makes you feel like a human, is subordinate as compared to what keeps you ‘busy’ and is more ‘productive’. Because leisure, introspection, and creativity are only for the good-for-nothings, right?

However, I think the pandemic of 2020 is cataclysmic enough to show us, humans, a mirror of our brutal selves. When the world is cracking down and trying it’s best to stay stable, (despite the wounds left open by the swords of capitalism) it is because of those beautiful outputs of art, literature, music, rhythm, dance, subjects like history and philosophy that I, and perhaps, a lot of people in the world are keeping their heads and holding onto silver linings. (Vaccines are going to take time)

JNU and You, Monsoon


It’s been raining in Lucknow since morning, but I cannot stop thinking about how beautiful the campus must be looking right now. Monsoons have always been my confidant. Perhaps, that’s why the rains love me and I love them. The JNU campus gave me even more time and space to share my happiness with them. Some say love is a luxury. I think so, too. Not everyone gets to enjoy the taste of love with complete freedom sans hide-and-seeks.
Last monsoon, I used to step out of my hostel room no matter what time of the day it was, provided it was drizzling or the sky was on the verge of letting its cloud-taps open. Skies used to be somewhere between purple and black. A tinge of orange and red here a there. Yeah whites were there but visible only on the edges of the dark clouds. Sometimes they even blinded my eyes while simultaneously, fooling me into believing that it was going to pour but didn’t. How can I forget the bokeh effects of the pink bougainvilles that added to the landscape like the little drop of pink on a water colour painting that rejuvenates all other hues.
You think I’m speaking as if I had never seen the monsoon sky before last year? I did see them, but I never got the chance to sit underneath them with my friends around, with absolutely no one to come about and question as to why we were sitting there or if we wanted to fall sick and didn’t care about the apprehensions of our parents.Back in DU, in the first year, that’s what a man living in the staff/teachers’ quarters said when I with a group of friends went out to enjoy the rains near the hostel premises. We were as happy as ever until that nosy man showed up . Remember the 40 plus contemptible uncles that I keep talking about? Those who keep on disciplining the women and assume that they are doing a service to the society? He is one amongst them. Maybe, he didn’t have problem with random people dancing in the rain as much as he had with 20-year-olds, that too girls, relishing upon the mixture of brief liberty, and nature, with half of them wearing shorts or knee length dresses. Hmmm. How could he choose to stay silent
There’s no such uncle or aunty here. What a luxury! (Some wardens are like that for sure, but they can’t keep an eye on everyone and I know how to deal with them now). No wonder why life outside the campus feels so out of place.
Coming back to my romantic tale of monsoon in JNU. One evening on my journey from the centre back to my room , I looked upwards and found the perfect blend of colours dripping down in the form of mizzles. By the time they reached me , it felt as if it was mist caressing my tired face. The pat of the soft wind wiped it off there after. The little umbrella inside my bag was eager to be let loose, but I, too, managed to fool it and let the drizzles drench me.I spared glances at different angles to see if there was no familiar face looking towards me. There was none so I closed my eyes, wore up a smile and walked at the slowest pace possible. The footpath was almost straight at that place so I worried little about stumbling. There was no hindrance between the rain and me. That’s how I would define ‘bliss’. Neither the brevity of it nor the travails beyond it that existed, could have morphed my mood or extracted out the serenity and content that that moment contained.


Different Tales Of Covid-19

I think of bougainvilles brimming with flowers,
The spring I missed , its waving bowers,
The jocund wind is beckoning me near,
While I count the passing hours.

I see a room dark and low,
A head pressed against the pillow,
Heaving to placate the black and blues,
Or seeking a break out to end this woe?

Look there, the bees fluttering with glee
No man has yet come to steal the honey,
If only their freedom lingers,
They can live at peace on the family tree.

A labourer ambles off on foot,
To reach his village, though shrouded in soot,
And hunger, and thirst; no money, no fear,
The hope to stay alive keeps him enroute.

That wanderer seems perplexed,
When will she pack her bags next?
Where silence and sound felt equally fiesty,
The morbid stillness, now, keeps her vexed.

A vendor switches from street to street
From dawn till dusk, and then repeat,
He must sell to keep loss at bay,
Lest his mangoes turn obsolete.

Some souls stray in search of smile,
Science; religion spray hopes beguiled,
It’s the artists,poets, singers and comics,
That make it all worth the while.

A few are reflecting back on life,
Others fear future; the interim strife,
While humans seek options to survive,
Revive the herbage and the wildlife.

A film of a catastrophe on a live screen,
Of such mixed content, a genre unseen
All because of an invisible beast,
The different tales of Covid-19.

शून्य

छत्तीस किलोमीटर का फासला
चंद रोटियों से हौसला
शून्य थी जीवन की कीमत
घर लौट आते, वही गनीमत
किसकी थी ये आनाकानी?
पांच लाख की मेहरबानी?

Aurangabad