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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

या दिल की सुनो दुनिया वालों , या मुझको अभी चुप रहने दो , मैं ग़म को ख़ुशी कैसे कह दूँ , जो कहते हैं उनको कहने दो।

Facebook removed a post of mine on the covid crisis sometime back because it had violated some community guidelines.( whatever that may mean but Facebook claims to know what is best for the community interest )The censored post was more in the nature of anguished musings, a rhapsody meditation, a Crie de Coeur on the moral deliquescence of our society. I rued my sense of utter helplessness- and erumpent anger at the gross mismanagement – as well as my inability to make one bit of difference to the lives of people in distress, who made desperate calls for help in this hour of national crisis. The post was removed within minutes and Facebook warned me that I had violated community guidelines . The tone of the admonishment was indulgent, it said people do commit mistakes, but should I persist! I was not surprised, I did not take umbrage . Facebook is the new opium, and I know how the west had turned oriental addiction to good account in the past . History records that East India Company had come to trade and took control of our lives. It seemed so natural, that I almost ridiculed myself for the first impulse to quit Facebook as a bit of theatrical excess.
The custodians of the representation of reality in a society view themselves in exclusively political terms and they are intolerant of any other reality that is inconsistent with the official account of things . That is why dispensations where only a single reality holds sway, writers are reduced to silence by expulsions, arrests, or by simply being cut-off from all realities for good. Capitalist and communist systems may appear to be hostile and mutually exclusive but they appear to be united in abusing their power in silencing dissent .
But why should ordinary people, people who haltingly and hesitantly string together a few words for the consumption of a few friends be a matter of concern to authorities? Do they seem to believe what Simon de Beauvoir says in her autobiography Adieu that “there are always words of this kind, thrown out absent-mindedly, which are like the absent-minded smoker’s match in some forest…and which set the whole lot ablaze.” In their anxiety they exaggerate the potential of idle musings of insignificant people. Don’t worry Facebook we are not only non combustible , we are inert matter.
The linguist Dan Jurafsky writes of a phenomenon called semantic bleaching, in which words, most often in the affective realm, lose their power with the passage of time, or as George Orwell says because of the lies that they are made to convey. The “awe” fades from “awesome” and the horror is drained out of “horrible” . A tragic spectacle loses its tragedy and remains merely a spectacle. I am reading and hearing a lot of things about my beloved state of Bihar, but unfortunately I am very bad at semantic bleaching . All that I can say is या दिल की सुनो दुनिया वालों , या मुझको अभी चुप रहने दो , मैं ग़म को ख़ुशी कैसे कह दूँ , जो कहते हैं उनको कहने दो।

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Courting Sleep

Putting me to sleep is a job much harder than many would imagine . Before the Gods condemned Sisyphus to his arduous task of rolling a stone uphill, they had suggested him the option of singing me to sleep . Obviously he found the other option easier. So I have to perform this arduous task myself , every day, day after day ,because a night comes after every day . If I were a king, half my kingdom would have been up for grabs for any one who could put me to sleep. But the entire kingdom to someone who could make it last seven hours, at a stretch . I think after having tasted this state of Nirvana I would not want a Kingdom. I would be a happy mendicant gambolling in grass skirts . Having read Raja Radhika Raman’ Daridranarayan I always thought sleeplessness is inevitably accompanied with the gift of a crown .‘Taaj ke tale neend kahan,’ or that English proverb ‘ uneasy lies the head that wears a crown .’ I think in years to come fables and fairy tales are going to be written about me- a man condemned to double jeopardy . No crown and no sleep either.
As I said, last night I had counted all the sheep that were available to be counted . I started with my own country but considering sleep was still miles away and the Covid diplomacy had bombed so badly , I thought it will be a good gesture to win some brownie points for India , my India , with some census diplomacy . I decided to keep the clumsy MEA buggers out of the loop. In the stealth of the night I , or my mind ,crept through international borders . All the sheep in China , Australia , Sudan , Mongolia , New Zealand were now accounted for .Heck , no , but the goal to which this fruitless labour was hitched was still nowhere in sight . My eyes were wider and seeing much further in the dark . So I thought why not make a global census , leave no sheep uncounted . I quietly chuckled to myself that I will set the gold standard for the WHO fellows- leave no one unvaccinated. The task was done no sooner than conceived . Clueless , I looked for advice to Billy Crossby, an American poet , and went for the wild beasts , camels , skylarks , then all the animals in the zoos and aquariums. The task finished I took a jaw shattering yawn but the problems and thoughts which nagged me throughout the day were still lurking . “Give me a break “, I beseeched my nagging suspicion that Covid 19 was an unintended product of the gain of function research that was being carried at the Wuhan research laboratory and there was something fishy about it . Now what? Go on a hitch hiking mission to the galaxy looking for Gryphons, Sphinx, Minotaur, Taurs , Draconope ,Echidnam Mermaids, Sirens. Or go hunting Snarks ,
Fortunately I had a sottisier of remarks which needed mature cogitation .I had top politicians, PMs, eminent historians , intellectuals . scientists lined up. A wise general had just said that, “ The IAF is a support arm , just like the artillery of engineers,” had also been agitating my mind .There were
other conundrums which had defied hours of contemplation during my waking hours. Why not try to crack them now? Randomly I alighted on a remark which has been attributed to a certain gentleman . “ India is a beehive . China is an elephant. A beehive is stronger than elephant . So India is a super power.” I am very poor at analytical reasoning , I have not made a formal study of logic , I am weak in rhetoric but I tried my best to limber up to this nimble mind jumping from a beehive to the back of an elephant and declaring form that vantage point that India is a super power. I put it aside gently for deliberation after I had equipped myself better .I failed to deconstruct the second one also, “Dalit community needs the escape velocity of Jupiter to achieve success.” This was far above me and got clubbed with the other unsolved riddle of mathematics propounded by another genius . “We are the 2ab of a+b2 +2ab” . This third one was little less opaque , I was getting the connection between milk and women but no further “ Gujrat ko agar kisine khada Kiya hai ,to woo Gujrat ki mahila hai. Gujrat ko agar kisine amul Diya hai, Dudh Diya hai to woo Gujrat ki mahila hai . “ But I never knew someone could describe my state of sleeplessness as well as this . “This morning, I woke up at night.” The last that I can report is that I got up at around 11 AM . My wife was violently shaking me : Get up .And what is this that you have been uttering ‘get me some dhotis , get me some dhotis. I hate politics.” On my laptop, the wise man’s last remark was still there. “There is politics in your shirt , politics in your pant.” I guess this had lulled me in a state of absolute stupefaction which my wife mistook for sleep.