Through a friend I chanced upon an article by one Dr. Shyam Bhat who happens to be a psychiatrist. The article in question places the case of suicide committed by one Malini Murumu of IIM following a status update by her ex-boyfriend on facebook and makes arguments starting from the media coverage, to the way the world perceives suicides, the limitation of understanding of suicides within the legal framework and tries explaining the suicide phenomenon in medical framework.
I read the article re-read it and re-re-read it. Still it doesn’t convince me completely.
On one hand Dr. Shyam Bhat argues on the line that suicidal tendencies are a psychological problem or disorder and hence the external world cannot be blamed for it. He also argues that the external world needs to take care of people with such problem or disorder through “empathy, support and treatment.” If the external world has no control over the inner world, then how can the external world help? If it can help, it means that the external world too can affect the inner world, right? I am not saying that external factors are the cause for every suicide. But how can one rule out the role of the external world and give a clean chit to the external world in this fashion and argue that suicide is a very personal act? I have problems with it because I have always believed and still believe that suicide is a social murder.
I agree that there are psychological reasons which also play a role in pushing an individual to commit or attempt suicide. There are different kind of relationship that we form which, if I am not wrong, in psychological terms are called as thick relationship and thin relationships. So at times with one particular incident or speech we form such thick relationship that the slightest disturbances with that external factor causes immense internal disturbance. But as it has been discussed, by many, what if the external object itself is so strong that a thick relationship is formed? There could be psychiatric disorders which prompts an individual to commit or attempt suicide. With all these exceptions considered, I can’t come to believe that suicide is an internal matter alone. What about the thousands and thousands of farmer suicides? Did the external world have no role in their suicides? Was it a pure internal disorder? What about dowry deaths and deaths following domestic violence? Are they pure internal emotional problems?
The moment of suicide could be an “impulsive action” triggered by a “pre-existing emotional problem”. But what leads to that impulsive action cannot be a total personal and internal affair. There are external forces acting which create the emotional force for that impulsive action. But Dr. Bhat doesn’t speak of that and goes on to say things like nobody is responsible for the death of Malini, not even she herself. With that case in reference can we also say that in all the farmers suicide cases nobody is to be blamed and that only a pre-existing emotional problem killed them? Dr. Bhat also says that the external world should support and empathize with these people. Probably he means that these warm expressions will comfort the individual. So it means that the absence of support, empathy and other related emotions of love and care could one of the reasons for the individual to attempt suicide. How can we rule this out? While saying this how can we throw a blind eye on the larger system which itself is inhumane which leaves less space for sympathy, care, love, support and empathy? The external forces are acting on the internal formation of emotional forces which could lead to that one “impulsive action”.
My biggest problem with Dr. Bhat is this- his final and only solution for suicides seem to be medical help. I wonder why these doctors think that they are magicians with powers equal to supernatural powers to not just save life but also to give a life. As if the entire life of the world is dependent on doctors. (Well I have to say that there are exceptions) I have problems with these doctors thinking that they and they only can solve the problem. Dr. Bhat is almost saying, nobody is responsible for suicides and suicide attempts but if the person is saved then only doctors can save them and doctors are responsible for the continuing of life.
While I agree that medical help is necessary in some cases, the problem by emphasizing more only on the cure of suicidal symptoms and suicidal tendencies and viewing of suicide as just some “clinical illness”, as I see, leads not only to the problem of romanticizing of the medical profession, by the medical professionals themselves, but also in stressing more only on the medical side of suicide and neglecting the social, political and economical sides of a suicide. This can be a problem in understanding suicides.
Suicide is a language, as I see it. Someone is trying to say something at the cost of life. If we are not trying to understand that communicative element of a suicide, which will unveil the larger social political and economical forces and are branding it just as a “clinical illness” requiring “medical treatment” then to me it is, to use the same phrase that Dr. Bhat uses, “Utterly ridiculous” because suicide as i see is not just because of clinical disorder but also because of a certain kind of social order.
While reading the new book of Rahmat Tarikere sir, his article on Hazart Nizamuddin dargha reminded me of my last visit to Nizamuddin dargha, few days before coming back from New Delhi.
That evening, at Nizamuddin, i saw a stranger who was crying helplessly. It was clearly visible that he was in some extremely helpless condition. But in his eyes i saw not just tears and helsplessness, but also love and also hope. At that point, as the stranger cried and cried and cried, i remembered a mail i had written to a friend just a few days before (on 24 June 2011) my visit to Hazrat Nizamuddin. Here i am reproduding that entire mail, for i am also reminded of that mail along with that man who i saw at the dargha.
Remembering you and one of our very first conversations, since the two days…
It must have been late summer or early monsoon 2007, if i remember correctly… Those were the days of Orkut and not Facebook. You had copy scrapped some sentences and stated that if the same were to be scrapped for ten more people your wishes would come true and if not, one would have bad times to come their way. When read those sentences carefully, i figured out that it had sandwiched a holy hymn of a religion between several meaningless words and also had mocked the hymn, in a way. I was annoyed and sent you a message raising objections about the same.
Couple of days later i had seen your reply in my message box. It read something in the lines of- “may be it held something annoying within it, but the fear it generated in me, made me scrap the same to several others.” To this you added- “You dont know that i am going through some problems and at this point of time i cannot afford to take more problems on myself.” Saying this you had concluded with the words- “Sorry if it hurt your sentiments but i am so hurt that i could not think and anything that gives me some hope, i just hold on to it, without giving a second thought.”
When darkness settles in our worlds, how desperately we look for light. All politically incorrect statements are made, all illogical decisions are taken, all immature moves are made, all done like a small baby which beats its hands and legs, out of sheer helplessness.
The reason why i remembered this conversation with you is- few days ago i asked a friend’s friend if she would be able to meet me in Delhi. Her name is Vatsala Shugal. I had met her around six months ago in Mumbai when our common friend Deepanshi alias Daadi Ma had taken me to her. Vatsala does tarot card reading. She had done it for Daadi Ma earlier and when Daadi Ma had mentioned about it i had laughed about the entire thing and very mockingly had said, “I would like to get this done sometime”. Though i had forgotten about it, Daadi ma had not. So when i went to Mumbai to see Daadi Ma, she took me to Vatsala and got the tarot card read. My disbelief in God and the cards is well known to all. But still i went to Vatsala because its Daadi Ma who took me and Daadi Ma has the liberty to do such things with me, to take to the card reader or take me to the temple. That apart… Recently i asked Vatsala again, if she could meet me here in Delhi and do the card reading for me… She said she would but before we could decide when and where to meet, my net connection got disconnected and couldn’t connect to her later… So, day before yesterday while sitting with my teacher (H.S. Shivaprakash) i asked him if he would do tarot card reading for me… He agreed and did…
That night, while walking back from his house and during the late night swim i kept laughing at myself and my own helplesness which had pushed me to do something which i myself do not believe in… But when i asked Vatsala if she would do the reading for me or when i asked my Sir to do the reading for me i did not laugh at myself… I was anxious and i wanted to see if the cards could help me in any which way… Do i believe in it? No. But i did look for some healing through it… Its for this reason that i remembered all of our conversation…
Now i think of it, i can see myself shuffle the cards… I can see myself spreading the cards on the table… Asking a question and picking up three cards from my left hand and handing it over to my Sir… He answers… I shuffle the cards again and i spread it on the table again… Taash Kay Patton Ki Tarha Hai Zindagee Meri. Aur Patton Ko Baharhaal Bikhar Jaana Hai… That is it… Life is just about breaking into pieces… But its strange and beautiful too as to see what goes through the mind, and how and all it clings to hopes, when the card is being shuffled and spread across the table… Before i ask the next question, i know, i should pick up all the cards once again and put them together… Life changes with the second throw of the dice… I continue to play… With no belief in cards or on the so called God…
I did not believe. But i wanted to believe that things will fall into place again. I wanted hope. I wanted something to hold on to. I had visited Hazrat Nizamuddin, that evening, not to listen to Kawwali alone… And my friend Shobha puts it beautifully, “While i dismiss all rituals as stupid, i will never dismiss what prompts people to report to them, because i know what it means to be there.”
16 September 2011. Final One Day Match between India and Englad.
Second Innings: England batting. 16.2 over.
Munaaf Patel slips and is unable to get up. Some teammates go running to him.
Commentary: “The Mumbai Indians are worried. Too many injuries already in their team. Now they dont want to lose Munaaf too.”
Star Cricket suddenly realizes that its going to take some time for the game to begin and its an opportunity for advertisements, which should be made use of to the maximum.
Today will be the last ODI of Rahul Dravid. It is end of history, as I see it.
Now when Dravid stands near the exit door, let me say this: Sachin, who is considered as the God of cricket, in my eyes, is a statistician’s delight, Dhoni is a philosopher’s delight and it is Dravid who is a cricket lover’s delight and at once and at the same time an aethetician’s delight.
Sachin has given us thrills, Dhoni has made us proud. No doubt. But none of them have made us feel what Dravid could make us feel. A good art or sport is one that slows you down. Dravid is someone who slowed us down, without letting us down. His slow batting, which invited great criticism, was not a slow game as it appeared but a slow building and rebuilding of confidence, of the game and a slow turning of the match. We never knew when did he start and when did he reach his half century. We never would know when he snatched the game away from the opposition and managed to write India’s name on it. Brick by brick, with great patience and calculation, he would build the wall.
When he hit his first century (107) in Chennai, during the independence cup in 1996, his innings went unnoticed because Saeed Anwar had scored 194, a world record, in the same match. His memorable century against Kenya in the 1999 world cup, the match which brought back India into the series, was overshadowed by Sachin’s century and his century in the next match against Sri Lanka was overshadowed by the century hit by Sourav Ganguly. When Sachin made his 186 against New Zealand in Hyderabad, Dravid’s beautiful 153 was overshadowed.
Dravid was overshadowed by Sachin and Ganguly all through his career. But we failed to recognize that Dravid was also a Ganguly with the same fighting spirit minus that visible aggression of Ganguly. He was also a Sachin with match winning abilities, minus the aura which Sachin carries.
When the team needed a wicket keeper, he stood behind the wickets wearing the gloves. When Ganguly, in his first ODI as a captain, did not know how to tame South Africa, Dravid managed to grab two wickets with his unusual bowling. We all miss one important aspect while watching the game: the importance of fielding in opposition to batting and bowling. We enjoy the catches of Jhonty Rhodes, who undoubtedly is a great fielder. But we have hardly understood the significance of Dravid as a fielder. Undoubtedly, one of the best slip fielders. We celebrate Mohammed Kaif and Robin Singh for their magnificent dives and forget a Dravid who silently did the best fielding possible without making it visible.
Dravid might not have managed to sail us through the match, always. But then Sachin too has not managed to sail us through, always. But the thrills that Sachin has given us has made him the apple of our eyes. Dhoni has made us proud. He has sailed us through, most of the times. The result he has produced makes him the apple of our eyes. (I make this statement parking aside the recent criticism he is receiving for the defeats in the England tour) But Dravid gave us hope, gave us assurance in every match and slowly even without our realizing he gave us great cricketing moments. Yet he has not been the apple of our eye but constantly a target for our criticism. To get carried away only by thrills and results and forgetting the aesthetic delight and cricketing moments, is unfair. It is unfair and disrespect to the spirit of cricket too and not just a disrespect to one of the greatest cricketers ever.
If Sehwag’s batting is crisp and cutting like a short story, Sachin’s game is like a novel, Dhoni’s batting like an essay, Ganguly’s batting like a piece of criticism and Yuvraj like a news feature, Dravid’s batting is sheer poetry. Like the greatest poems, Dravid’s batting would slowly seep into us and give an eternal pleasure of the game.
Without making it obvious, through his poetic cricket, he taught us quite a few things. He never peeped or jumped out of the frame which held the Indian team. He always sat within the frame. One could see his game within the Indian game and not divorced of the team performance. He made us watch the game and not his game. That was his greatness as he was not the hero of the game but only a supporting star. Team India never played for Dravid and it will not play for him even today. It can’t happen so because Dravid plays for India and that is how it ought to be and not the reverse. He taught us the team was above individuals and the job of an individual is to strengthen the team and its performance and he made us realize one more thing which was crucial. He made us realize, without us knowing it, that a game continues even after Sachin walks back to the pavilion even after Ganguly walks back to the pavilion. He made us realize that cricket continued even without those who we gave the status of larger than cricket.
Cricket will continue even without Dravid and that is what he, through his game, has taught us. But the game of ODI cricket with Dravid’s departure, will feel his loss because he was someone who was a mix of traditional and the modern styles. He was Gavaskar, Hazare, Azharuddin, Sachin, Ganguly and also Dhoni at the same time. He was a perfect mix of the old and the new, keeping the history and memory of cricket alive in his game. Even in his 20-20 game, one could see the patience and values of Test cricket and even in his one-day innings, when required, one could see the aggressiveness of a 20-20 game. With his departure, this link between the past and present is almost broken.
I don’t know how many would realize the greatness of a player like Dravid in this IPL era. We will have many thrilling moments in T20 cricket, but will we have Dravidian moments? Dravidian moments which keeps alive history and memory, while still being in touch with the present. I doubt. So i say, it is the end of history…
This is the second time in the recent past that Naseruddin Shah’s short role in much awaited films has caught me deeply. The first one was his role in Zindagi Na Milegi Doabara as Salman Habib, an artist. The second role of his which caught me deeply was in That Girl In Yellow Boots. I watched the TGIYB twice to analyze it but still am not able to come to a conclusion about the film. It has happened always with every film of Anurag Kashyap, for me at least. My views about the film have changed, slightly, after the second view. But what has remained the same is my view and thoughts on the character Diwakar, played by Naseruddin Shah.
While in ZNMD he is a father who has left and neglected his own son in TGIYB he is a sort of father figure to Ruth, played by Kalki, the central character in the film, who is in search of her real father. But overall, to me, it appears like, both these characters, Salman Habib and Diwakar, has been neglected by the filmmakers and also by the characters within the film.
In ZNMD, I thought, his relationship with his son, Imraan played by Farhan Akhtar, had depth into it unlike the other relationships portrayed in the film. There was warmth, there was anger, there was affection and there was tension. But the filmmaker just touched on the relationship at the surface level and left it there. Yes, I understand that the focus and interest of the filmmaker was on other stories but I felt upset that a story which was more intense was sacrificed to tell a story, that of friends and the fun they have, which has been narrated many a times on the Indian silver screen. With the focus on friendship and their fun what the Indian audience lost was a human story of human relationships and the tension within human relationships.
The character of Imraan too neglects this character. While he himself expects to be forgiven by his friend Arjun, played by Hrithik, for having been a spoil-sport in the love affair of Arjun, he can’t forgive his father Salman Habib, who left him and his mother many years ago, for he wanted to be a free bird. While Imraan takes the help of Salman Habib to get out of the prison he doesn’t try to understand the desire of Salman Habib to be free of family burden/ responsibility and not wanting to have a child. But at the same time very well understands his friend Kabir who is engaged but is not ready for marriage. What Salman Habib did might have been extremely wrong and inhumane, to look through the eyes of Imraan. But Imraan as an artist, who manages to understand the plight of Kabir doesn’t try to understand the position and situation of Salman Habib. And when he seeks forgiveness from Arjun and cleanses his mistake by playing the cupid between Arjun and Laila he doesn’t give Salman Habib a second chance to rectify his mistakes. With this the character of Salman Habib remains neglected and ignored even within the film and not just in the film.
As the name That Girl In Yellow Boots suggests the film is about Ruth, the girl who wearing yellow boots is searching for her father in India. During her search for her father she comes across the inhumane sides of society and inhumane people. In between all these people she also meets Diwakar, an old man who comes to Ruth for massage and exercise. There is a warm relationship between Diwakar and Ruth which gets expressed through him referring to her as “beta” (my child), she enquiring him whether he did the exercises at home or not, he enquiring if she could find her father and more importantly he taking the liberty to be angry at Ruth and also shout at her while realizing that she does “hand shake” for a lot of customers who come for massage. His words, “Everybody that I care for, is my business” stemming out of love and anger, when told by a friend of Ruth that what she does is none of his business, mirrors the relationship between him and Ruth. There is so much of warmth in the relationship between the two that the audience, till the shocking and chocking end, keep suspecting, if not believing, that Diwakar must be the father of Ruth. But nevertheless it becomes very evident that the relationship between the two is of a father-daughter kind. In spite of having such an intense relationship with Diwakar, the central character Ruth doesn’t, stop the owner of the massage centre, while Diwakar is being thrown out of the massage centre. When reality slaps hardly on her face she moves away from everything and everyone and also leaves behind Diwakar, the man who loved and cared her like a father.
Why Ruth was looking for, comes across in the film. Why Diwakar felt so affectionately for Ruth remains unknown. What happened to him, when we know that he felt affectionately for Ruth, when Ruth remained silent while being chased away, also remains unknown. A story remains untold. Though a passing character he is someone who is close to the central character and the filmmaker doesn’t speak much of Diwakar while the filmmaker gives some space to the personal stories of Prashanth, played by Prashanth Prakash, about his connection with Chittiappa, played by Gulshan Devaiah and also shows him running behind Ruth which makes the audience feel bad for him. But the filmmaker doesn’t follow Diwakar when he is thrown out of the massage centre and keeps the audience in the dark about his state of mind after being thrown out. Though the character of Diwakar is the most humane character that comes in the dark film TGIYB it remains neglected to a certain extent by the filmmaker and also by the character within the film.
Though slightly neglected the two characters, Salman Habib and Diwakar, both played very well by Naserudding Shah, are two memorable characters, for me at least, in the recent times in Bollywood cinema.
A national daily, recently, broke the news about Irom Sharmila’s love life. Few months ago, in the month of February 2011, her love Desmond Coutinho had blogged about his ‘engagement’ with Irom, which seldom did make news or did people believe. But finally Irom herself has spoken about it and media has spoken about her.
Desmond is said to have first written to Irom after reading the book Burning Bright on Manipur resistance. This was almost a year before they first met in the month of March this year. A series of letter exchanging between the two let love flower in their hearts for each other.
Irom, who is on fast from the past eleven years to pressurize the Government to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act- a draconian law, while speaking of her love to the media has said that her supporters in the battle of fighting AFSPA are not in support of her in her love life. The reason, as Irom tells, for her supporters to not support her in this affair is because Desmond is “of Goan origin but a British citizen.” She also said that her supporters did not appreciate their relationship but also were very possessive and mean.
It is not surprising that Irom fell in love. It shouldn’t be a surprise. When one has distanced oneself from the people, physically, for (the cause of) the people the loneliness can be heart breaking. As she herself said once earlier, probably in the interview which has been reproduced in her collection of poetry Fragrance of Peace, she craves for human interaction and wants to be with the people.
The objection of the supporters could not be just because Desmond is of a different culture and nationality, as it might appear from what is told by Irom. It is also, as pointed by, Lakshmi Chaudhry, because we rarely allow our leaders behave in a human manner, especially when we have made a saint out of them.
Human Rights activist Babloo Loitongbam raises objection on the media focusing on the personal life of Irom and not on the issue that she is fighting for. True, in a way. Social activist R.K. Anand says that Irom’s love affair is not the central issue but her battle is and adds joins the voice with Mr. Loitongbam. Very true. He, Mr. Anand, later says that an attempt is being made to divert the attention from the burning issue. Well, I will not credit the state with such intelligence and smartness. But the matter is not of conspiracy by the state, to me, but the way in which the entire battle is being seen. It appears like the burden of the battle against AFSPA has been put on the shoulders of Irom alone and everyone is comfortably backing her, forgetting that she has a personal life too. Else there is no reason to feel that a shift in the focus on Irom’s love affair can divert the focus from the issue. It is our battle too for it concerns us also. Irom has sacrificed way too much for this battle and it would be extremely selfish on our part to expect her to sacrifice more of her personal life. Its high time we all sacrificed more than some virtual space and some coffee table time to support Irom. So, if Irom is given a choice between continuing to fight the battle against AFSPA and Desmond, she should choose the latter and not the earlier, i think. But Irom says she will marry Desmond only after her battle is won.
In one of her poems, Hyderabad based activist Mehazabeen writes:
Not just ozone, but
Love also is vanishing
From the surface of the earth.
What we all need, right now, is
The battle of Irom from the last eleven years, at its heart, now appears to me, as a battle for love itself. It is to repeal AFSPA, yes. But it is, at its heart, asking the nation state to love its people, asking India to love the North-East, asking India to mother its people as a motherland. It is a demand for love. But sadly those who stand with her for the demand of love by the nation state do not stand with her for the love that she is seeking/ sharing from/with Desmond.
Irom remembers how Desmond was not allowed to meet her when he came first to meet her. Later, to meet her, Desmond had to go on a fast for two days. Similarly for the love of the Nation state and of the mother land Irom has been fasting. Pray, her fasting, like that of Desmond, succeeds in reaching the desired destination. She has said that she will marry Desmond only after achieving success in her battle. Pray, soon Irom will be with her love and will be loved by the nation state… For love is the necessity of life. May be one can survive without food but not without love.
Nafrat Kay Saaye Main Palti Hai Mohabbat ‘Faraaz’
Hathon Main Haath Ho Toh Lakeerain Mil Hee Jaati Hai
(The title of the post has been borrowed from the article on the same Irom Sharmila’s love published in the website: firstpost)
A young boy currently an internee in a newspaper asked me “Isn’t this like celebration?” surprised by the music of the band playing catchy dance numbers of bollywood, to which the gathering danced. He, I think, thought there would be two minutes of silent prayer for the departed soul and then some speeches recollecting some moments with the departed soul.
Day: 2 July 2011. Event: Tribute to Maqbool Fida Hussain. Venue: V.P. House lawns. Organizer: SAHMAT.
Having gathered first at the Dhoomimal Art Gallery, at Connaught Place, where outside the gallery two murals painted by Hussain stands, artists, friends and admirers of Hussain lit lanterns, unfolded umbrellas and wore t-shirts with portraits of Hussain and boarded a train to V.P. House. Most of the young ones, in the gathering, chose to walk barefoot, like Hussain did during his lifetime. At the Dhoomimal Gallery some of Hussain’s original works like Bhopal, depicting the Bhopal gas tragedy, the death if Kennedy were displayed.
Once all gathered at the lawns of V.P. House, decorated by banners holding newspaper clips paying tribute to Hussain, installation of lanterns and umbrella- a recurring image in Hussain’s painting and a banner with the image of Hussain’s last paintings, the band started playing catchy tunes of bollywood to which everyone started dancing. That is when an innocent boy, thinking of the event to be a mourning session, asked “Isn’t this like celebration?”
What else could it be but celebration? How else do you pay tribute to a man who celebrated life? Owais, the son of Hussain, looking at the dance to the band tunes remarked, “If my dad were to be here he would have said there needs to be more energy in the dance.”
How can one mourn for a man who lived with full life, full energy, till his last breath? Anjolie Ela Menon said, “I had come to believe that Hussain was immortal. That is the kind of life he carried with him. He never grew old.” The same views were expressed in her poem which she recited later. “How can he be gone, he who never grew old?” asked Anjolie Menon in her poem. She added to it, “He reinvented himself till the end” pointing the secret behind the lively life of his and his immortality.
“In relevance there is immortality,” said Owais, before mentioning “His major preoccupation was to be relevant, not just in art but in his life too.” Once these words were uttered one could well connect the ends of Owais’s remarks and that of Anjolie Menon to know what both were saying, differently. Historian Prof. Irfan Habib, who was also a part of the function, said that the greatness of Hussain was in his constant engagement with the Indian civilization, more importantly in not looking at past as the buried but making the past relevant to the present.
“Not just in art but in life too.” Did Hussain see life and art as two different sections? Disagrees art curator Sumeet Chopra who recollecting an episode from his own life says Hussain saw his life in every art of his. “I was once having lunch with Hussain sahib and very randomly said- your paintings which are so precious and valuable to the world, is just a two minute’s work for you. To this Hussain sahib replied- behind these two minutes there are 75 years of struggle and effort,” recollected Mr. Chopra.
Hussain’s love for art and life and his viewing of art as life and life as art, as put by Mr. Chopra, can also be seen in his film Through The Eyes of A Painter’ which was screened at V.P. House as a part of the programme. Life juxtaposed with art, life inspiring art, seeing elements of art in life, seeing life in art- all of Hussain’s abilities come out brilliantly in his film. The editing technique used comes close to the modernist painting. Speak of translating one medium, potentially, into another!
Having recollected the small but significant episode from his life, Mr. Chopra asked “Do you see how he saw his life in his art? His art was his life to him and that is why he left India, because his art was his life.”
Nafisa Ali who was accused of buying the ‘controversial’ Bharath Maata painting was heard telling the media that Hussain never titled that painting ‘Bharath Maata’. It was a curator who titled it so. Speaking of the ‘controversial’ paintings of Hussain, Mr. Chopra said, “How can paintings cause controversy? They are there hanging on the wall. Controversies are caused by humans who see their own benefit in creating controversies.”
“It was his greatness which provoked hatred,” opined Arpana Caur and Anjolie Ela Menon said, “Those who attacked him have vanished but Hussain continues to remain,” pointing his imperishable greatness. Menon also declared that she would reveal all the names of those who led the hate campaign against Hussain, “When the time is ripe” which as she herself puts it “will be soon.”
The two artists Arpana Caur and Anjolie Ela Menon also recollected as to how, during their younger days, Hussain encouraged them in the field of art. Arpana Caur said, “He bought a painting of mine during one of my very first exhibitions. I did not hope to see it in his Bangalore art gallery, after several years. I was moved,” said the artists failing to hide the lump in the throat. Anjolie Ela Menon remembered Hussain tying bamboo sticks for the hanging and display of her paintings during her first exhibition, several years ago. “He nurtured all of us,” said Anjolie Ela Menon.
A booklet titled ‘On Hussain’ enveloping two articles by Geeta Kapur and Ram Rahman, published by SAHMAT, was released during the occasion by Vivan Sundaram through handing it over to Husssain’s son Shamshaad and a poster of Hussain with the poetry of Naazim Hikmat, was released by Madan Gopal Singh during the occasion.
Amongst these celebrations one could see, at one point of time, Hussain’s son Shashaad in tears. There was s stream of melancholy that flowed underneath the celebration. It was expressed even in the choked voice of Arpana Caur and even in the voice of Anjolie Ela Menon who said, “I have cried as much as I could but the pain remains.” What pain? Of having lost a friend and of not being able to bring him back to India, clarified Anjolie Ela Menon. Arpana Caur remembered Hussain having told Vikram Singh, “I feel like kissing the soil of my nation once,” while in exile.
There is more to the pain, when one listens to Owais narrating his experience while having gone to register the death of his father. “The lady there asked me his age. I said 97 and she asked me what his profession was to which I replied: artist. Having taken a note of this the lady wrote ‘retired’ within brackets after having written artist as the profession. I asked her to rub it off, for he still had his boots on.”
There could have been more to the pain, one can be assured, if Hussain’s ‘dream’ of which Owais spoke had come true. “My father’s dream was to destroy his works. He was against conservation.”
But these undercurrents of melancholy did not dam the flow of celebration, the true way to tribute Hussain, in any way, like the song sung by the students who gathered: “Dilo Mein Gaav Leke Bhi Chale Chalo…” to mean “Keep marching even with a wounded heart…”
The gathering marched towards the CSIR building, holding lanterns and umbrellas, with the band playing bollywood music, where a mural of Nehru painted by Hussain stands.
Before all stood up and marched Ram Rahman, the organizer of the function, recollected the episode of an Indian couple, in a Dubai mall, having come to Hussain on recognizing him, and having taken his blessings for their new born. Recollecting this incident Ram said, “M.F. Hussain is our first Sufi Painter.”
(Report/Article published in the just published May/June 2011 issue of INDIAN LITERATURE, Sahitya Akademi’s bi-monthly journal)