Monday, February 22, 2016

My Book List 2016

I am going to start something new here, more than anything because I need this exercise now. While I am not at all for any grand declarations of new year resolutions and such like, I do want to read a lot more books this year than I usually manage to. Let me not burden myself with a number though.

Starting today, I am going to list all the books I have read this year, both for work and for pleasure, along with a small paragraph or so of a review. Well, review would be the wrong word. I don’t want to talk as much about the story/subject of the book or the craft of the writer as much as what I, as a reader, thought of the book while reading it. It might not always be politically correct, like the tone I employ in the reviews I write professionally. These are not a reviewer or even a critic’s thoughts, just a plain reader’s. Okay, right then.

(Grouping the ones read so far in one post here, in no particular order)

1. Yellow Lights of Death by Benyamin: I couldn’t possibly over-sell his first translated book, Goat Days. That book was, in a word, brilliant. So I went into this with tall hopes and wasn’t overly disappointed. Markedly different from Goat Days, this book is a Dan Brown-ish page turner, a novel within a novel. Racy, intriguing and a tad too complicated in an attempt to be too many things at the same time, it sort of crash and burned for me towards the end. Somehow the fast paced narrative throughout the book went into a bit of a free fall in the end. Well enjoyable, nevertheless. And the little history of the Mar Thoma Church, early Christianity in India was very interesting.

2. The Adivasi Will Not Dance by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar: Loved this one, and have been recommending it to everyone I know that reads. I admit I picked it up with a little apprehension but once I began, couldn’t put it down. The short stories are about the Santhal tribe of Jharkhand, where the writer works as a doctor. They don’t exoticise the tribals and the political in their stories isn’t in your face. I love subtlety like this, letting the reader arrive at the heart of the story. I look forward to reading the writer’s debut novel. His dual profession instantly reminded me of the other writer who juggles writing and a medical profession – Kavery Nambisan, an old favourite.

3. Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen: I have very happily gone back to my yoga recently and have been reading on yoga again. Rachel Brathen made her name as a yoga sensation on Instagram, and other social media, by sharing deeply personal battles – very relatable ones at that – along with, of course, photos of handstands on Caribbean beaches. The issue of white, thin, bikini clad women doing difficult poses in picture postcard perfect locations is something I am mostly unsure about, but I like Brathen for her honesty. Anyway, Yoga Girl is part memoir, part self-help, part recipe book and part yoga manual. I read it at a time when I desperately needed to read something like that and to be reminded of some very obvious things. But then the most obvious things are what we need reminded about often, huh?

4. A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor: I am always very skeptical of books that everyone is oohing and ahing about, rarely do they match the hype, for me. So I steered very clear of this one, only to see I had added it, at some point, on to my online bookstore wishlist. I must say it is most of what was written about this book. It is racy, disturbing and filled with phrases the kind I would want to note down somewhere. The ending, for me, was a little too Bollywood-ish, all strings came out being neatly tied together but nevertheless it is a great book. Too closely relatable in parts for my comfort. But one book that I mean to read again, at leisure, slowly savouring the wonderful sentences.

5. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri: Lahiri is one writer I have always thought was overrated. Good in parts, but overrated as a whole. I think she came up at a time when the immigration story was the in thing in popular culture. Except perhaps The Lowland which I quite enjoyed, the rest of her books have been predictable for me. I should have known better than to read her latest then, a book written in Italian, a language she learnt because it did not come with the baggage that English and Bengali has for her. It was one of the most tedious, full of itself writing I have read in recent times. Don't waste time on it. Thankfully, I was not the only one to think this about her. An artist friend and I talked just yesterday about how the book would never have seen the light of day if it wasn't written by a Pulitzer awardee. So there, that was a bad one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why I Haven't Been Writing. And Why I Write This Now.

Only she seems to understand, that woman who gave me this life, when I told her I couldn’t write anymore. That the ideas were there, the sentences ran through my mind, in sleep and while awake, while walking, or eating or cooking or during any of the dozen things that makes up a normal, mundane day. The words were there, almost, yet I couldn’t bring myself to sit and write them out. The utter joy in letting these fingers type out things I was thinking, things I didn’t quite know were on my mind, the memory of that joy remained, yet I couldn’t be bothered with the path that would get me there. It wasn’t the lack of inspiration or work or deadlines. There were plenty of those, urgent, immediate, necessary. 

It was a feeling of illogical lethargy, a sense of unexplainable ennui that gripped me by the throat, choking me, feeding me with poisonous questions as to why I needed to get out of bed every morning, feed the dog, do my yoga, function as a human being should. I have been going through the motions, sending in my columns here and there, nearly always late, soulless pieces that seemed like a chore, not the one thing that unfailingly brought me satisfaction and meaning.

I was going through the motions and producing sparse words when required. But I haven’t been writing. And she was the only one who seemed to notice. No one else seemed to notice that the book lies abandoned, only a brief first chapter done, that too many months ago. That the ideas I have hesitantly spoken about never turned into actual stories, these past few months. That the opportunities so enthusiastically shared lie discarded, against best judgement. That it is not the same anymore. That I am distraught, emotionally beaten, heart broken, for no mistake of mine. That this fear of being abandoned has sunk in so deep that there came a point when nothing made any sense anymore, no means seemed to justify any end. That here I am, not caring that I am mixing up my tenses. I kept the smiles pasted on, maybe that is why no one else noticed. It is easy sometimes for the playacting and the realness to blur along the already thin lines.

She noticed though, my mother. And understood when I told her why. She – nearly – always understands why and what and how. And she told me to sit and bloody well get to it, just like that, in her usual matter of fact way, like all mothers employ when needed, adding that she knew it wasn’t easy. But then nothing is easy. You have to dust yourself and get up every time you fall. Again and again and again. It is as simple as that, it is as difficult as that. You realize the strength in you when being strong is the only option you are allowed.

Maybe it will all make sense someday, because you know, it just should. Because, you know, you can't just up and leave, without explanation, without a word. Because friends don't do that to friends. They just don't cause such trauma. Period.

Maybe it will hurt less as the months go by. Maybe. Right now, even three months or so later, it doesn’t make any sense, no matter how much I analyse, wonder, think myself crazy. Right now there aren’t any answers, only pain. But I am letting myself fully, wholly feel. That’s an improvement from the bewilderment, the incomprehension, the complete denial of this.

And now, I write this. Maybe it means I am starting to write again, slowly, taking hesitant, trusting steps. Because I don't know what else to be but a stupid, bumbling, trusting person. I trust people I call friends and can never learn some lessons, stupid me. Maybe this means the light, dim and barely visible as it is, has come back on, at the end of this long black hallway. It flickers wildly, like a fire caught in a storm, but it is there.

I write this now, here. I am able to, barely, but still able to. Here I am, lying bare like I haven't done in so many long months. Maybe this is catharsis.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

On Forest Rights Act, Tribals, etc: In Binkana, Kannada Prabha column

We met three people from three different tribes in Kodagu district recently. It was wonderful, heartbreaking, inspiring and so many other things. But more on that later.
In this past Sunday's Binkana column in Kannada Prabha, I wrote on the Forest Rights Act, tribals in general and stuff along those lines. 

Oh, I also talk about this collection of stories called 'The Adivasi Will Not Dance' by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. Read it, read it. It is political, quite subtle at times, which I always love, and beautifully written. 

"ನನ್ನ ಹೆಸರು ಮಂಗಲ್ ಮುರ್ಮು. ನಾನೊಬ್ಬ ಸಂಗೀತ ಕಲಾವಿಧ. ಇಲ್ಲ, ನಿಲ್ಲಿ....ನಾನೊಬ್ಬ ರೈತ. ಅಥವಾ... ರೈತನಾಗಿದ್ದೆ. ರೈತನಾಗಿದ್ದೆ ಎಂಬುದು ಸರಿ. ಯಾಕೆಂದರೆ ನಾನೀಗ ವ್ಯವಸಾಯ ಮಾಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ನನ್ನ ಹಳ್ಳಿ ಮತಿಅಜೊರ್, ಅಮ್ರಪರ ಬ್ಲಾಕ್, ಪಾಕುರ್ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸಂಥಲರು ವ್ಯವಸಾಯ ಮಾಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವುಮಂದಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಭೂಮಿ ಉಳಿದಿದೆ, ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಭೂಮಿಯನ್ನು ಗಣಿಗಾರಿಕೆ ಕಂಪನಿಯೊಂದು ವಶಪಡಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದೆ."

ಈ ದೇಶದ ಸುಪ್ರೀಂ ಕೋರ್ಟ್ ನೀಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಹೇಳಿಕೆಗಳು, ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಕಾಯ್ದೆಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದರೆ ಟಾಂಜಾನಿಯಾ ವಿಧ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿ ಪ್ರಕರಣ, ರೋಹಿತ್ ವೇಮುಲ ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆ, ವಾಕ್ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯದ ಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಹಲ್ಲೆಗಳ ಮಧ್ಯೆಯೂ ಭಾರತ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ದಿಕ್ಕಿನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ವಿಶ್ವಾಸ ಎಲ್ಲೋ ಒಂದಿಷ್ಟು ಜೀವಂತವಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಮೊನ್ನೆಯಷ್ಟೇ ಫಾರೆಸ್ಟ್ ರೈಟ್ಸ್ (ಅರಣ್ಯ ಹಕ್ಕು) ಕಾಯ್ದೆಗೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಪಟ್ಟಂತೆ, ತುಂಬಾ ಸರಳವಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಬೇಕೆಂದರೆ, ಮದ್ರಾಸ್ ಹೈ ಕೋರ್ಟ್, ತಮಿಳು ನಾಡು ಸರ್ಕಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಈ ಕಾಯ್ದೆಯನ್ನು ಜಾರಿಗೆ ತರಲು ಸುಪ್ರೀಂ ಕೋರ್ಟ್ ಆದೇಶಿಸಿತ್ತು. ಕೇಂದ್ರೀಯ ಕಾಯಿದೆ ಆದರು ತಮಿಳು ನಾಡು ಇದನ್ನು ಈ ವರೆಗೆ ಹಲವು ಕಾರಣಗಳಿಂದಾಗಿ ಜಾರಿಗೆ ತಂದಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ.

ದೇಶದ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಲಾಗಳ ಹಾಗೆ ಈ ಅರಣ್ಯ ಹಕ್ಕು ಕಾಯಿದೆಯನ್ನು ಜಾರಿಗೊಳಿಸಿದ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹಲವು ರಾಜ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಂದು-ಕೊರತೆಗಳಿವೆ. ಈ ಕಾಯಿದೆಯ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಬುಡಕಟ್ಟು ಜನಾಂಗ ಹಾಗು ಅರಣ್ಯ ನಿವಾಸಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಅವರು ಬೇಸಾಯ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಭೂಮಿ, ನೆಲೆಸಿರುವ ಅರಣ್ಯದ ಮೇಲೆ ಹಕ್ಕಿದೆ. ಪಟ್ಟೆ, ಇನ್ನಿತರ ಭೂಮಿಗೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಪಟ್ಟ ದಾಖಲೆಗಳ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ ಇರದ ಇವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಹಕ್ಕಿನ ಭೂಮಿಯನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯಲು ಕೆಲವು ವಿಧಾನಗಳನ್ನು ಈ ಕಾಯಿದೆ ವಿವರಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಿದ ಅದೆಷ್ಟೋ ಜನರ ದಾಖಲೆಗಳ್ಳನ್ನು ಕ್ಷುದ್ರ ಕಾರಣಗಳಿಗೆ ನಿರಾಕರಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ ಎಂಬ ಆರೋಪ ಸುದ್ದಿಯಾದರೆ, ಚತ್ತೀಸಗರ್ಹ್ ರಾಜ್ಯದ ರೋಘಾಟ್ ಶ್ರೇಣಿಯ ಸುತ್ತ ಮುತ್ತಲಿರುವ ಹಳ್ಳಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿನ ಸ್ತಿತಿ ಇನ್ನಷ್ಟು ಗಂಭೀರವಾಗಿದೆ.

ಈ ಪರ್ವತ ಶ್ರೇಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ದೇಶದ ಎರಡನೆಯ ಅತಿ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಉಕ್ಕು ಅದಿರಿನ ಶೇಖರಣೆ ಇದೆ ಎಂದು ನಂಬಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಮೂರು ದಶಕಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆಯೇ ಗಣಿಗಾರಿಕೆ ಮಾಡಲು ಸರಕಾರ ಆಸಕ್ತಿ ವ್ಯಕ್ತ ಪಡಿಸಿದರೂ ಇತೀಚೆಗಷ್ಟೇ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಬೇಕಾಗುವ ಮೂಲಭೂತ ಸೌಕರ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಕಟ್ಟಲು ಮುಂದಾಗಿದೆ. ರೈಲು, ಆಸ್ಪತ್ರೆ, ಮನೆಗಳು, ಶಾಲೆ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ನಿರ್ಮಿಸಲೆಂದು ಅದೆಷ್ಟೋ ಏಕರೆ ಮರಗಳನ್ನು ಬಿ.ಯೆಸ್.ಎಫ಼್., ಪೋಲಿಸ್ ಕಾವಲು ಪಡೆದು ರಾತ್ರೋ-ರಾತ್ರಿ ಕಡೆಯಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಸುತ್ತ ಮುತ್ತಲಿನ ಹಳ್ಳಿಯವರನ್ನು ತಲೆ ತಲಾಂತರದಿಂದ ಬದುಕಿದ ಭೂಮಿಯಿಂದ ಹೊರವೋಡಿಸಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಆ ರಾಜ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಅರಣ್ಯ ಹಕ್ಕು ಕಾಯಿದೆ ಜಾರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇದ್ದು, ಅದರಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹಳ್ಳಿಯವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಜಮೀನಿನ, ತಮ್ಮ ಊರಿನ ಗಡಿರೇಖೆಯನ್ನು ದಾಖಲಿಸಿ ಸರ್ಕಾರಕ್ಕೆ ನೀಡಿದರೂ ಅವನ್ನು ಅಲಕ್ಷಿಸಿ ನಖಲಿ ದಾಖಲೆಗಳನ್ನು ಶೃಷ್ಟಿಸಿ ಪರಿಹಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೋಸ ಮಾಡಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ ಎಂಬ ವರದಿಗಳಿವೆ. ತಮ್ಮ ಹಕ್ಕಿಗೆ ಹೋರಾಡುವವರನ್ನು ಜೈಲಿಗೆ ತಳ್ಳಿ, ಹಿಂಸಿಸಿ ಭಯದ ವಾತಾವರಣವನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಸ್ತಳೀಯ ಸರ್ಕಾರ, ಉಕ್ಕಿನ ಕಂಪನಿಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಆರೋಪವಿದೆ.

ಉಕ್ಕಿನ ಖರ್ಖಾನೆಗಳು ಒಂದು ಶ್ರೇಣಿಯನ್ನು ನೆಲಸಮಮಾಡಲು ಬರುವ ಮೊದಲು ಇಂತಹಾ ವಾತಾವರಣವನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸುವುದು ಸರ್ವೇ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯವಾಗಿದೆ. ಬಳ್ಳಾರಿ, ಗೋವಾ, ಜಾರ್ಖಂಡ್, ಕುದುರೆಮುಖ, ಬಹಳ ಉದ್ದ ಹೋಗುವ ಪಟ್ಟಿಯದು. ಶತಮಾನಗಳಿಂದ ಮನೆಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು, ತಮ್ಮ ದೇವರ ಮನೆಯಾಗಿರುವ ಕಾಡನ್ನು ಬಿಡಬೇಕೆನ್ನುವ ತಾಕೀತು ಕೊಡಲು ಸರಕಾರ ಮುಂದಾದರೆ ಕಾಡಿನ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ಬದಿಗಿಟ್ಟಂತೆ ಆಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಉಕ್ಕನ್ನು ತಯಾರಿಸದೆ ಇದ್ದರೆ, ಅಣೆಕಟ್ಟನ್ನು ಕಟ್ಟದಿದ್ದರೆ, ಹೈವೇಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾಡದಿದ್ದರೆ "ಪ್ರಗತಿ"ಯನ್ನು ಅಳಿಯುವುದಾದರೂ ಹೇಗೆ? ಪ್ರಗತಿಯ ಬೆಲೆ ಅದೆಷ್ಟು ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗೆ ಕೊಡಬಹುದಾದ ಉತ್ತರ, ಸಮರ್ಥಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದಾದ ಅಂಶಗಳು ಅನೇಕ, ಅವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದೂ ಸುಲಭದ್ದಲ್ಲ.

ಬುಡಕಟ್ಟು ಜನಾಂಗದ ಜೀವನಶೈಲಿಯ ರೋಮಾಂಚನೆಯನ್ನು ಎತ್ತಿ ಹಿಡಿಯುವುದು ಸುಲಭ, ಅವರ ವೇಷ-ಭೂಷಣ, ಹಾಡು, ನೃತ್ಯ, ಭಾಷೆ, ಕರಕುಶಲತೆಯನ್ನು ಅನ್ಯಲೋಕದ್ದು ಎಂಬುವಂತೆ ಪರಿಗಣಿಸಿ ಅವುಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಥೆ, ಸಾಕ್ಷ್ಯ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸುವುದು ಮುಖ್ಯವಾದರೂ, ಅದಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲೇ ನಮ್ಮ - ಸುಯೊಗಿಗಳ - ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿ ಮುಗಿಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ, ಮುಗಿಯಬಾರದು. ಚರ್ಚೆಗೆ ಆಸ್ಪದ ನೀಡುವ ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯ, ಅವಸರ, ಏರುತ್ತಲಿದೆ. ಚರ್ಚೆಗೆ ಸರಿಯಾದ ವೇದಿಕೆ ದೊರಕದಿದ್ದಾಗ ಇಂತಹಾ ಸಮುದಾಯ ಎಕಾಂಗಿಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಈ ಜನಾಂಗಗಳ ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿರುವ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಅಂಶಗಳನ್ನು ಗುರುತಿಸಿ ಅವುಗಳನ್ನು ಉದ್ದೇಶಿಸುವುದು ಅಗತ್ಯ.

ಮೊದಲ ಸಾಲಿನ ಮಂಗಲ್ ಮುರ್ಮುನ ಕಥೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುತ್ತದೆ. ಜಾರ್ಖಂಡ್ ಸರ್ಕಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೆಡಿಕಲ್ ಆಫೀಸರ್ ಆಗಿರುವ ಹನ್ಸದ ಸೌವೇಂದ್ರ ಶೇಖರ್ ಬರೆದಿರು 'ದಿ ಆದಿವಾಸಿ ವಿಲ್ ನಾಟ್ ಡಾನ್ಸ್' (ಆದಿವಾಸಿ ಕುಣಿಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ) ಎಂಬ ಕಥಾ ಸಂಖಲನದಲ್ಲಿ ಶಿರ್ಶಿಖೆಯ ಕಥೆ ಮುರ್ಮುವಿನದ್ದು. ತನ್ನ ಜಮೀನು ಕಳೆದುಕೊಂಡ ಮುರ್ಮು ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಿಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೇಳುತ್ತಾನೆ, ಮಿಷನರಿಗಳು ಬಂದು ತನ್ನ ಸಂಥಲರ ಹೆಸರು ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ, ತನ್ನ ಸರ್ನ ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು ತ್ಯಜಿಸುವಂತೆ ಕೇಳುವುದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಥೆ ಕೇಳುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಅರವತ್ತು ವರ್ಷದ ಮುರ್ಮು ಸಂಥಲರ ಹಾಡು, ನೃತ್ಯದ ಗುಂಪೊಂದರ ಮುಖಂಡ. ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮವೊಂದರಲ್ಲಿ ತನ್ನ ಜನಾಂಗದ ನೃತ್ಯ ಪ್ರದರ್ಶಿಸಬೇಕೆಂದು ಪತ್ರ ಬಂದಾಗ ಒಪ್ಪಿದ ಮುರ್ಮುಗೆ ತನ್ನ ಮಗಳನ್ನು ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಹಳ್ಳಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಲು ಕಾರ್ಖಾನೆಗೆ ಬೇಕಾಗುವ ವಿಧ್ಯುಚ್ಚತ್ತಿ ಖರ್ಖಾನೆಯೊಂದು ಬರಲಿದ್ದು ಹಳ್ಳಿಯವರನ್ನು ಅಲ್ಲಿಂದ ಹೊರಹಾಕಿದ್ದು ತಿಳಿದುಬರುತ್ತದೆ. ಮಗಳು, ಮೊಮ್ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಅವನ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಆಶ್ರಯ ಪಡೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕಾರ್ಖಾನೆಯ ಅಡಿಪಾಯದ ಮೊದಲ ಕಲ್ಲನ್ನು ದೇಶದ ರಾಷ್ಟಪತಿ ಹಾಕುವ ಸಂಧರ್ಭ ನಡೆಯುವ ಭರ್ಜರಿ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುರ್ಮು ಮತ್ತು ಅವನ ಗುಂಪು ಕುನಿಯಬೇಕೆಂಬುದು ಅವನಿಗೆ ತಿಳಿದು ಬರುತ್ತದೆ. ಇಷ್ಟರ ವರೆಗೆ ಒಳಗಿಂದೊಳಗೆ ಕೊರಗಿದ ಮುರ್ಮು ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದ ದಿನ ಧೈರ್ಯದಿಂದ ಮೈಕ್ ಹಿಡಿದು ರಾಷ್ಟಪತಿಯನ್ನು ಉದ್ದೇಶಿಸಿ, ಹಾಡಿ ಕುಣಿಯಲು ಕಾರಣವೇನಿದೆ? ಈ ಕಾರ್ಖಾನೆಯು ನಮ್ಮ ಆದಿವಾಸಿಗಳ ಅಂತ್ಯವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ಭೂಮಿ, ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಹಿಂತಿರುಗಿಸುವವರೆಗೂ ನಾವು ಆದಿವಾಸಿಗಳು ಕುಣಿಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮಧ್ಯದಲ್ಲೇ ಕಥೆ ಮುಗಿಯುತ್ತದೆ.

"ನಾವು ಬೊಂಬೆಗಳು. ಯಾರೋ ಆನ್ ಬಟನ್ ಒತ್ತುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಯಾರೋ ನಮ್ಮ ಹಿಂದೆ ಕೀ ತಿರುಗಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನಾವು ಸಂಥಲರು ನಮ್ಮ ತಮಕ, ತುಂಡಕ, ತಿರಿಯೋ ಭಾರಿಸುತ್ತಿರಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಯಾರೋ ನಮ್ಮ ಕುಣಿತದ ಭೂಮಿಯನ್ನೇ ಕಿತ್ತುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಹೇಳಿ, ನಾನು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ತಪ್ಪೇ?"

ಮುರ್ಮುವಿನ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗೆ ಉತ್ತರ ನೀಡಲು ಶಬ್ಧಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ತಲೆಮಾರುವುದು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ, ತಲೆ ಬಾಗಿಸಬೇಕಷ್ಟೇ.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Raising a Puppy

You know you are raising a puppy well when he loves the kitchen as much as you do, when he sits patiently and watches you cook even when it takes an hour, when he sits by your feet as you read a book, breathlessly, because the book is that good, when he climbs onto your lap when you sit to meditate every morning, when he...when you can no longer remember the days and years when you weren't raising a puppy. 

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Love is...In Filter Coffee Column This Month

Strange is the way love works. Haven't we all spent hours and days and weeks and months agonizing over it? For Kindle's Feb issue, I look at what love is and what not love is, from the personal to the political.

How soon or how late can you know love, can you love?

Can you ever know love? What then might be love?

A meditation on rhetorical questions, these. But of course.

Love is Kim Casali’s Love is…pictures.

It is also an over-rated emotion handpicked by card companies to market between folds of pink paper to lovelorn teenagers and young tweenies.

All that and ever more. Much more, much less.


Love is Rudra’s excitement when I come back home, even if I was away just for ten minutes. Perhaps time is irrelevant for him, for the reception is the same ten minutes or after a day and a half.

Not love is when he chews on my heirloom furniture, lovingly brought from home where these pieces lay in the attic. Rose, teak, priceless.

Love is those few minutes of silent ritual in the morning. Be it a breath on the balcony that overlooks that big tree or an extra cuddle, a kiss on the forehead. The rituals that we make our daily prayers.

Not love is the chores that await, the cleaning, the watering, the feeding, the mundanities. The distances, the silent horrors that lurk, waiting in glee for triggers. Not love is the hours of not knowing, the unrecorded hours.

Love is…

Love is a daily call from ma, sometimes annoying but mostly much, much needed.

Not love is a list of things that are the ‘right’ thing to do, a list that is getting longer with the years.

Love is the yellow pen that was a present and that I could never lend to anyone.

Not love is the hours we spend writing imaginary letters to one another, the ones that never get mailed.

Love is the cinnamon tone in a mug of black coffee to “cut cholesterol” and because cinnamon makes everything better.

Not love is drinking a cup alone when you are too proud to just let go and invite the other over this evening.

Love is the journal and its every day entries, talking about you and you, you both, my two great loves. Of longing, the sweet, over romanticized version of longing.

Not love is the reality of everything, of the guarantee that I shall never see you again.

Love is waking up to see small white flowers in a flimsy plastic bag hanging on the bolt across the front door, because you didn’t want to wake me up, because you know how much I love flowers.

Not love is knowing that this will probably never, ever happen again. It is too late for everything now.

Love is the early morning coffee, after the yoga. Or the walk in the evening, that one time, where we caught the sun set and took pictures of the clouds and the big banyan tree.

Not love is well, not having yoga, food, song and fight with you anymore. Not love is loss.

Love is that book of poetry.

Not love is the poem not making much sense anymore.

Love is the innumerable small things you remembered, dangerously too much.

Not love is not being friends with you anymore.

Not love is these sappy lines I cannot stop thinking about.

Not love is rehashing memories and living in denial, yet not wanting to.

Love is also this loss of friendship and care, for it existed once.

Not love is this friendship and care, for it no longer exists.

Love is mundanities. That drive in the car with the dog/s, shopping groceries, boring, normal, household stuff.

Not love is the secrecy of everything.

Love is the entries in the journal about things that happen in this country and my life.

Not love is not being able to bravely, unheedingly, fearlessly open up these journals to you and you, the world. For they go after you, they go after your family, your friends, your everything.

Not love is this enforced, establishment sanctioned commanded cowardice.

Not love is the inhibitions that the government, society, the political establishment, the societal establishment, all those establishments impose and dictate upon you, for there is no escaping them.

What is there to love here?

Not love is the atmosphere of fear that thickens until it is so dense, yet not so, that you could painlessly cut through it with a blunt butter knife.

What is there to love here in this scenario?

Not love is not knowing what will happen in the next three something years that this government will rule. What new laws? What new pressures? What new unfreedoms might it force upon you?

Love is still that tiny voice of hope that there might be a rising, a rebellion, a hope, a diminishing hope that this country might just take this too, after all. It has seen worse.

Love is loss too, loss of hope and the demise of love, fight, ultimatums, whatever it takes, for it can/should/will trigger some reaction, some change in status quo.

Not love is a scenario where you refuse to even have that tiny ray of hope.

That it will one day be alright, for life has the ability to work out, after all.