It’s a Dog’s Life

Ask a dog what it takes to show unwavering loyalty. And ask him how it feels to go unnoticed. There is not one tragedy that befriends a dog; at least a flotilla of miseries hounds him to death.

Being born with a curiously short life, a canine takes brevity in its stride. They have only handful of days to bask in jubilant youth. Between growing up and growing old is just a short summer siesta

Leave aside the agonies they unknowingly inherit, and bring their daily struggle to the fore. The ones who find a foster family and embrace a life of buckles and codified domesticity, lead a ‘well behaved’ life with their masters flaunting their cowed down existence.  And the one who is born on the streets and doesn’t experiment much with a cornered life grows up to become a ‘stray’ dog.

Theirs is a dog’s life – a royal ruin. Living at the mercy of others and keeping one’s largesse ready for anyone and everyone is a dual despair for the tribe.

From shooing away suspected burglars to protecting the hoards and sniffing dangers to awarding death to rodents; they do it all. Theirs is a multi-faceted role with each distinctly crucial.

It is not the call of the moon that turns them lunatic. Their vindictive growl and frantic attacks are all symptoms of a deeper malaise – victimhood.  Kids are not taught to refrain from targeting street dogs; grownups don’t mind showing all-weather indifference and official caretakers of this hapless lot shirk duties.  When I see three-legged dogs limping its way to a safe place, I know a rash driver has scripted his slow end. The dogs without the tails are one sign of how grossly bitter we have become.

Be grateful to their happy wagging of tail, affectionate slurps and moist eyes when you are not around. Be mindful of their fleeting days on earth.

It doesn’t even cost a dime to reciprocate. More so, when you don’t have many who wish you well. Don’t be a man of ugly hues. Show the dogkind that we are still friends with empathy.

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Hide & Seek Shall See No End

Majhe majhe tobo dekha pai, chirodin keno pai na / Keno megh ashey hridoyo akashey tomare dekhite dey na” (Seldom do I get to see you, not ever after/ clouds envelop my heart’s sky shrouding you thereafter)

Rabindranath Tagore’s impeccable words acted as a Muse and after a long hiatus, poetry responded to my calls 🙂

Hide and Seek shall see no end

Hide and seek shall see no end
The Hidden is not Sought
And the Sought is Hidden

Passing days, rolling night
Chosen delight not in sight.
Months rumble, years growl
Age is set free to prowl

Moon sentimental, Sun less agile
Ideas don’t crowd mind’s aisle.
Aspirations similar, so is defeat
Victory rides jalopy, Grace has cold feet

Yet we resound, yet we rejoice
We look ahead with Roman poise.
Retreating is lovely; lovelier is Resurgence
Life, as it appears – a penny well-spent

Hide and Seek shall see no end

PS: Tried to do justice to English translation. For brickbats / bouquets please leave a comment.

My Daddy Strongest

There is something annoying about recollections, and there is something unputdownable about it.

The plump man, whom I have always known to be my father, is one of the few who makes recollection even more effortless.

I was in my 9th summer when he vanished in the nick of time. Since, I was not old enough to complain, I kept mum. The first year without him was about sincerely remembering him and giving in to melancholia. Few more winters whizzed past and Baba started taking refuge in occasional references. People in our relation and suspected well wishers kept the flame of pathos alive.

His memories started to wane in the din of growing up. Even his clothes, old-fashioned umbrella, heavy glasses and saved-up coins turned cold and disappeared from mind’s vicinity.

But memories are a persistent lot.

The germanium days with Baba and narrative nights of pesky ghosts and disobedient kids are all relived again and again.

Not everything was rosy though. Every Math session I used to have with Baba ended in disgust – a mutual feeling. Mental Math, as far as I remember, was a true jerk who tried to create a rift between us. There were thrashing and hugging, giggles and regrets and lot many dichotomies.

Now, when I look back in retrospection, the only question that crops up is why? Why did we do everything in a hurry?

I am not among the ardent takers of consolation, and yet I feel I spend more hours with him, when he is not around.

Bengal: An Afterthought

While reading Sagarika Ghose’ piece on Bengal in HT, her one idea hit me: “Bengal is still destroying the one resource it was famous for: the mind”

My stint with Bengal has taught me that the state at large treads the middle path. Its disgust at rusty governance is muffled even though it is among the first to sound dissent. The state takes light years to turn criticism against reforms into acceptance. In the din of bandhs and protest walks, no one has realized that the development clock has stopped ticking.

Wind the clock, reset its time and take note of the movement of small and long hands.

The people are selectively ‘progressive’ forcing pace to set up cultural edifice, even though other societal foundations suffer a quake.  It will take million of Spartans to boost sagging will of the people who are preoccupied with ritual obligations. The state suffers from hyperactivity- only in terms of festivities. Crores go into building make-shift structures to welcome Goddess Durga and the half-starved pregnant women in Nandigram languish in ugly corner of their derelict nests.  The prolonged festivities witness companies lightening their wallet for spending on ads. No one listens to cries of corporate social responsibility.

The arm-chair critics of govt policies will shrug at the idea of facing nagging humidity and don the role of public servant.  Fault finders outweigh problem solvers and individual comfort ignores collective convenience. The ones who wear the cloak of intellect are no experts at niceties of governance but their attempts (albeit on the surface) at putting things back on track have fallen on deaf ears.

Reasons are more than one. Lack of strong representation of intellectuals in state legislature is one of them. West Bengal is sadly losing the distinction of being a good listener. Debate turns into mudslinging, critical analyses camouflage into propaganda and statements from stalwarts come loaded with snide remarks. People are turning bitter.

The state has never been one of the most industrious ones but recently it has surrendered to ‘delicious sloth’. Much of this boorish mindset has its origin in pseudo-social wave lashing against the fragile castles of illiteracy and ignorance. The political workers act as opinion leaders and public opinion on imperative issues are formed on flimsy grounds. The imprudence spreads like an epidemic leaving the city with few ‘healthy’ souls.

The way Bengal thinks needs a serious rebuke. Bengal’s overly critical genes need to be wiped off and enterprising blood needs to be inoculated. Send the state to a reformatory. The state should be charged for cultural snobbery, unbridled retrospection and keeping future in dark.

The highly paid optimists in Bengal must be busy using their credentials to design a new ‘Under Construction’ template for the world to see.

Bengal has surely seen better days.

Guerilla: A Film on War Well Fought

Director Nasiruddin Yousuff’s film Guerilla is a detailed study on patriotism and jingoism and how both have been at loggerheads since time immemorial. If one seeks sovereign Pakistan and drags people to extremes of sufferings to make them serve Islam the other hails ‘Joy Bangla’ (Hail Bangladesh) in chorus and pounces on oppressors at every opportunity. With West Pakistan’s forced attempt to suppress freedom movement in East Pakistan as the backdrop, the film looks out for pathos and rage as the outcome of long standing battle between two warring factions.

Gory is the depiction of barbarities under the pretext of wiping out gaddars (traitors).
Bilkis (Joya Ahsan), a gritty woman is the protagonist whose pain seems overbearing. The misery keeps mounting as she loses her husband (mukti joddha or freedom fighter) and continues to tread on path fraught with dangers. Her loneliness as an individual who is being looked up to and not looked after is felt all along.

The film projects erstwhile Pakistani Army’s audacity and modus operandi to silence a revolution. It also goes on to draw a struggling humanity trying to preserve its quality when beastly rule is devouring every virtue.

Looking deep into the plot opens before us a gamut of themes. It’s a love story amidst turbulent times, a subjective presentation of victimization of Bangladesh in 1971, and a travelogue that takes you to the alleys of malicious machination and secret rooms of revolutionary decisions.

Sensible work with camera, relentlessly good juggling with snippets from past and present and well-etched symbolisms made the narrative more poignant. High-handedness was deftly put before audience and the diligently building up of struggle was given due respect. Flute in the background was more than heartwarming as well as unnerving.

Use of Kazi Nazrul Islam’s verse, songs and memories of peaceful past got their acts together. Music Director Shimul Yousuf needs to be given his share of credit for offering some moving scores.

AN India THE Indians

Ignorance has been and may remain the fulcrum of all woes. We simply can’t write it off with pretentious defence.

This brings to us a pricking issue wailing for attention – half-hearted knowledge Indians have about fellow Indians andIndiaitself.

Like a curious jerk I tried to open as many windows as possible to spot the origin of this 21st-century indifference. And I think I have spotted some reasons taking me closer to origin.

The man in his traditional attire in south is hardly aware of mekhla; the young vendor in Majuli island may not know how Kannada is different from Karnataka. I have heard people confusing Shillong with Sri Lanka and mistaking Sikkim as foreign soil. Even if I mellow down the intensity of divide, it is difficult to cite something less painful.

Reality is even bleaker. Indians refuse to revere differences. On top of it, they learn (to nation’s dismay) to become jingoistic at a very local level. When you cannot look beyond Rajputana courage,Patiala lassi, Bengali cultural showiness and Goanese snug, you are not fitting yourself into the fabric of Indianness. It is we who are creating tiny islands and sailing away from the mainland.

What can then hold us together and convert this nuclear mindset?

Encourage people to travel beyond their towns, their districts, their states and embark on a reformatory trip to neighborhood. But. With a receptive mind. Don’t let judgments muddle their thinking and the process of forming opinion. A non-partisan view of the places and people can make every new place their second home.

Regional media come cloaked with region-centric issues. You would hardly see highly popular dailies promoting events and highlighting exclusivity and drabness of regions other than theirs. Assam Sentinel should proudly talk of Munnar’s idyllic setting and Kashmir Observer should dare to carryGujarat’s USP as an Indian state. This mutual admiration and recognition of each other is a crucial stepping stone.

I am not asking you to balloon the idea of unitedIndia. That will be too naïve. The little you can do and you should do is to feel proud of the country in its entirety.

You may find cesspools in the country, you may see gross happiness being mowed down, and these warrant a sensible criticism. Every Indian needs gumption to raise voice against things unacceptable and that in turn should bring people closer. Don’t keep a fellow Indian at arm’s length since you never cared to peep inside his Indian being.

Use less of epiphany and stop singing selective eulogies. It’s a national ballad that should be sung in chorus.