The Real Lokamanya

May 31, 2022 at 9:15 PMMay (Activism, Letter, Media, Musings, Soliloquy)

“To combat a deadly disease, drastic remedies are required,” said Dr. Ambedkar when some around him wondered if the decision to go to Mahad and drink the water from the Chowdar lake was an “impatient” one. Following the act of Babasahaeb and his comrades of concern, the upper-caste people of Mahad had not just beaten up the Dalits of the village but also performed a ritual to ‘purify’ the Chowdar lake, which according to them had been polluted by the untouchables. Mere education, creation of awareness and exposing the truth of scriptures wouldn’t be sufficient to battle untouchability, opined Ambedkar and decided to launch another Satyagraha at Mahad.

This decision was welcomed and supported by the non-Brahmin leaders Dinkarrao Javalkar and Keshavrao Jede. But the two leaders had a condition for Dr. Ambedkar. They wanted no Brahmin to participate in the proposed conference at Mahad or in the whole of the second phase of Mahad satyagraha. The bitter memory of what had happened in Mahad earlier was probably what prompted Javalkar and Jede to make such a request, and it was not unjustified. Babasaheb strictly said no to the condition put forth by Javalkar and Jede saying “the view that all Brahmins were the enemies of Untouchables was erroneous,” and explained that what he hated was the men who were possessed with the spirit of Brahminism. He added that “a non-Brahmin filled with such ideas of highness and lowness was a repellent” to him as a “Brahmin free from this spirit and sense of these privileges and unjust power” was welcome to him.

The stand taken by Ambedkar, so different from the position of Javalkar and Jede, reflects the worldview of his. In addition, it is possible, it is a glimpse also of his own experiences- shaped by some true allies of anti-caste struggle coming from the Brahmin community. One among them, a close associate of Ambedkar and his fight against Untouchability was Shridhar Balwant Tilak alias Shridharpanth!

Shridharpanth who founded the Pune branch of Samata Samaaj Sangh, an organization started by Ambedkar, and also served as its Vice-President, was the son of Balgangadhar Tilak. “It is a miracle that an Ambedkarite was born in an extremely brahminical set-up,” says Shatrughn Jadhav, author of a book on Shridharpanth and his close association with Ambedkar.

Though it shouldn’t be expected of the children that they always follow the footpath of the parent, the overpowering influence the family environment has on individuals, especially during their formative years, is undeniable. An Ambedkaraite coming out from the Tilak family appears like a miracle, not just because of the influence parental figures have on children, but also because the battle of ideology, and the social-political and legal fights that were happening between the two camps, the conservative Brahmin nationalists, whose idea of a nation was based on a castist idea of a society, and the non-Brahmin warriors of social justice, who envisioned political independence through the lens of social justice.

The intensity of the battle between these two streams can be better understood by having a closer look at the saarvajanik ganeshotsav (collective celebration of Ganesha festival) in Pune.

At the end of the 19th century Sardar Krishanji Kashinath alias Nanasaheb Khajgiwale witnessed the public celebration of Ganesha festival in Gwalior and replicated the same in Pune the next year. Though there was only three public celebrations of Ganesha that year in Pune, the idea captured the imagination of Balagangadhar Tilak who in his Kesari editorial wrote great words of appreciation about the new culture. As a result of this and the calculated and concentrated effort of Tilak around 150 public celebration of Ganesh were held in Pune the next year.

Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav popularized by Tilak has been hailed as a master stroke since it played a role in mobilizing people against the colonial rule. But along with creating a political awareness against the colonial regime, these public celebrations were also used as political tools or weapons against the majority of Indians. This needs a bit of an elaboration. Those days with the blessings of Balagangadhar Tilak a music troupe named Sanmitra Mela, who sang during the Ganesha festival. The songs of the Sanmitra Mel would ridicule and belittle the political opponents of Tilak, namely Gopalkrishna Gokhale, Firoze Shah Mehta, Rajaram Shastri Bhagawat and the song package of Sanmitra Mela also had songs that were anti Dalits and spat venom on girls going to school, and upholding the views of Tilak against girl education. These songs were harming beyond the public celebrations, when children listening to these songs would go to school and repeat them before girls and Dalits. Many of the girls and Dalits finding it humiliating, in addition to other humiliations caused by caste discriminations, opted out of school! This condescending and dehumanizing music culture continued for many years with the blessings of Tilak.

Some years later, as a response to the Sanmitra Mela, under the guidance and leadership of Jede and Javalkar a new music troupe came into existence. The new troupe was called Chatrapati Mela. The songs churned out by the Chatrapati Mela sang the glory of Shivaji, Shahu Maharaj and mainly Phule. The songs also took on themselves to spread the values lived and upheld by these icons and leaders. Also, the songs of Chatrapati Mela critiqued the vision and action of the Tilakites. Javalkar collected these songs and published them as a book under the title Chatrapati Padya Sangrah.

The fight between these two forces got so intense that from mere battle of bands, it got physical when to combat Tilakites formed a vigilante group to tame the Chatrapati Mela. In response to this move by the Tilakites, another group of vigilantes was formed by Jede and Javalkar.

If one is to observe this battle of titans closely, it does seem like a miracle that an Ambedkarite emerged from the house of Tilak!

Shridharpanth, unlike his father Balagangadhar Tilak, held views against untouchability, girl child marriage, shaving the heads of widows, and also worked towards their abolition. This shows how his views and understanding came very close to that of Babasaheb, who in his writings had shown how these very elements – girl child marriage, enforced widowhood, degradation of widows- were at the heart of caste system’s formation. Hence fighting against these matters were essential to the politics of Ambedkar and preaching superficially against untouchability alone wasn’t sufficient to annihilate caste. Shridharpanth shared this dream, and also worked with Ambedkar on the same lines.

Even before coming into contact with Ambedkar, Shridharpanth held progressive opinion and anti-caste views. He would argue with his father saying political freedom and social justice are both important, while his father largely believed that the matters of social justice were a mark of ‘loss of nationality’ and it ‘denationalized’ persons. This deviation of Shridharpanth from the path of his father caused a lot of discomfort among the colleagues and followers of Balagangadhar Tilak.

The discomfort of Tilakites reached its peak because of three reasons. One, the political views of Shridharpanth became sharp after him coming to contact with Ambedkar. After the Dalit students’ conclave in Pune, the young Tilak not just took Ambedkar to Gaikwad-waada of Tilak, this and him starting the Pune branch of Samataa Samaaj Sangh made this friendship and camaraderie very clear and loud. To make it worse, outside the Gaikwad-wada he put a board that read ‘chaturvarnya vidhwamsak samiti’. These became the second reason.  To top it all, Shridharpanth organized an inter-caste dining at Gaikwad-wada and invited nearly 200 people from the Untouchable communities, which included many singers and instrumentalists from the Chatrapati Mela. The main guest of this inter-caste dining was none other than Babasaheb Ambedkar. This became an unbearable matter for the Tilakites, majorly those from the Kesari-Marhatta Trust. They sweated quite a bit to stop this inter-caste dining from happening. When all their efforts failed they broke the electric wire and cut the power connection from Gaikwad-wada when the guests were about to arrive. Though this created a small commotion, Shridharpanth handled it calmly. He requested the members and allies of Samaaj Samtaa Sangh to bring in lanterns and lamps from their homes, which they did, and finally the inter-caste dining happened with hundreds of lamps and lanterns providing the necessary illumination.

What followed this was tragic!

The members of the Keasri-Marhatta Trust who were against the property being handed over to Shridharpanth, sketched conspiracy against him and his brother Rambhavu who too was a progressive minded person, and began torturing them psychologically by making a legal move with regard to the ownership of Kesari and Marhatta newspapers and the Trust. The brothers faced a lot of humiliation, ridiculing and harassment from the Trustees who were being supported even by the extended family of Tilak, after Shridharpanth organized the inter-caste dining at Gaikwad-wada. They began speaking lowly of him in public, tarnishing his image and thus creating a public opinion against him. Some relatives of Shridharpanth, the well-meaning ones, unable to see the targetting of brothers, requested them to reconcile with the Tilakites and give up their ideological beliefs. But both the brothers refused to do so. 

Probably striking a balance between a tender heart and a sharp mind became difficult for Shridharpanth. Unable to bear the torture of the conservatives, he jumped under a running train and killed himself on the 25th of May in the year 1928. He was just 32 then.

Just before killing himself by suicide, Shridharpanth wrote three letters. One to the the then Collector of Pune, one to the newspapers and one to his friend B.R. Ambedkar. In his letter to Babasaheb he wishes best to the anti-caste struggle, expresses his solidarity with the movement and Samaaj Samtaa Sangh, and in a moving line says he is going ahead in time to let the Almight know about the grievances of his Dalit brothers and sisters.

The day this letter reached him home, Ambedkar was in Jalgao where he first got the news of Shridharpanth’s untimely death. Ambedkar in his obituary to Shridharpanth wrote about how he kept wishing that the news was a false one. But since the news came from the Pune members of the Samaaj Samta Sangh, of which Shridharpanth was the vice-president, the chances of it being a lie was less and Ambedkar had to believe the news and this, he says in his obituary, made his heart heavy with pain. He also speaks about how he immediately saw that it could not be a natural death and was restless to know what had caused the death. On reaching home Babasaheb went to pick up the newspaper to read the details of Shridharpanth’s death and along with newspaper he also found a letter written to him by Shridharpanth. It is said that Ambekar wept on reading the letter by Shridharpanth. In the same obituary Ambedkar holds the conservatives of Pune and the Tilakites responsible for the death of Shridharpanth and also calls his untimely death a great loss not just to Maharashtra but to the whole of India.

Later in the obituary, recollecting how Balagangadhar Tilak spoke dismissively about his paper Mookanaayak, and also about the Dalits, Ambedkar declares that a man like Tilak is not worthy of the title Lokamanya. He says that the ‘loka’ (world) of the so called Lokamanya was casteist and non-inclisive. This was not the case with his son Shridharpanth, says Ambedkar, and declares that Shridharpanth is the real Lokamanya.

(Originally written in Kannada for my fortnightly column daarihoka for the webportal ee-dina)

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Protected: The Final Letter: Invitation to A Forward Journey

January 22, 2022 at 9:15 PMJan (Friends, Letter, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

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Protected: Around ‘Self-Care’

August 29, 2020 at 9:15 PMAug (Activism, Friends, Letter, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy, Uncategorized)

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Beyond Common Sense…

February 2, 2018 at 9:15 PMFeb (Cinema, Friends, Letter, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

While watching a short film shot in some exotic locations, those places through which the camera moves appeared very familiar. Those allies, the flowing water, those ancient structures, that park, those broken ceramic ornaments covered benches… No, I have never been to that place. But still I knew those places and had memories of those places. It dint take any effort to realize how I knew those places, where had I seen them and why I am able to recognize them and also feel a sense of connection.

Somebody I used to know was there some years ago.

In such strange ways memories of a lost love resurfaces!

Suddenly now it feels like love is a place I never visited yet a place that visited me. It feels like love is like a memory of a journey I never took but still lived.

In a very strange way in few frames of a film I was seeing for the first time, I met her who I am probably never going to meet again. Yet in a place outside of the present, outside of the past, outside of the real, outside of the reel, in a place beyond common sense, I met her again!

That is enough.

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A Tour in Nostalgia: Begamon Ka Bhopal

December 25, 2017 at 9:15 AMDec (Cinema, Friends, Letter, Literature, Media, Music, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life)

Begamon Ka Bhopal an experimental and experiential documentary directed by Rachita Gorowala was premiered on 09 Dec 2017 in the city of Bhopal, inside the structure of Taj Mahal.

I was fortunate to be a part of this memorable event and experience. That evening the beautiful Taj became a tour in nostalgia. This was designed by turning the structure of Taj into a canvas for light and shadow and through the several installations curated by Rachita Gorowala, Puloma and Farzeen Khan. All of these created an atmosphere for the film and also enhanced the experience of the film.

To be in tune with the experiential nature of the film, instead of writing a review I would like to reproduce a letter/ mail (with minor editing) I wrote to Rachita, trying to join the dots of my first impressions, soon after I watched the film Begamon Ka Bhopal in the month of September.


Hi Rachita

First of all accept my congratulations. Now accept my apologies for being late in viewing the film. After a month of you sending me the link, finally I watched the film today. But I am not delaying in writing to you my impressions about the film.

In the context of Begums and Bhopal this film is predominantly about Huzun, it appeared to me. This is made quite clear at the very beginning of the film and the interiority of the the feeling of nostalgia is felt throughout the film.

Nostalgia is not just remembrance but also longing with the knowledge that the longing for the remembered will be un-achieved which gives the happy recollection of past a shade of melancholy. When the word nostalgia first made an entry into human language it was considered a disease and it is said that during the civil war in America few soldiers actually died because of nostalgia. But eventually the world of psychology stopped viewing nostalgia as a disease and also started viewing it as a factor which can generate some kind of ease to fight the decay of life in the present. Like the meaning of nostalgia has conflicting and complementing meanings the history of how nostalgia was viewed by medical science is also conflicting and complementing.

Nostalgia in some sense is a rebel against death, it is a fight for life, even if in the form of a memory, and in a subliminal way a reminder of continuity of life, the presence of absence and the shadow of past on present.

Like a river time flows. Its the same river but not the same water. And as the famous Buddhist saying goes one cannot take dip in the same river twice because the river is ever flowing. But there is something interesting about the rivers especially in India, the physical river and mythical rivers are not the same. While the mythical river is the same forever the physical river is ever changing. But in the mindscape of this civilization the mythical and physical merge and become inseparable, like the past is ever present in the present in nostalgia.

Nostalgia is also a way of keeping the past alive. It is, in a strange way a non-tangible form of architecture, graves, writing, film, ornaments which freeze time in themselves and then slowly melt into meanings and stories when time slowly passes and sun shines on them.

In nostalgia the past shows the design to beautify and the present gives the threads and colors to beautify. Nostalgia is an effort towards beautifying life.

While nostalgia is a way of coping with the present for some, like those who lived the past, for some others, like the writer and you the filmmaker, it is a way of coping with the past.

The past gains significance in the present not because of nostalgia but the nostalgia exists because the past is of significance even in the present. Hence someone finds it important to write about it and someone finds it necessary to film it.

At a closer look there is no clear cut between past and present. The past flows seamlessly into the present, like the azaan echoing in the distance, grass growing on a tomb.

A collection of 8mm films shot in and around Bhopal during the years 1929-75 by Salahuddin Ahmed’s father and grandfather

When memory/ past is being turned into a memorial through institutes or by the state the memory is turned into a ritual without meaning like a hymn learnt through rote. Memories or past can be kept alive only through living, through body, through touch, through stories, through songs and not by making museum. But that doesnt deny the significance of institutions making memorials of memories. They are necessary and it requires great labor too but still is inadequate.

Because the longing for the past remains unfulfilled, nostalgia has a Sufiyana touch to it for the available but inaccessible quality of the subject/ object of longing/ desire/ love.

These are some of the quick thoughts that pass trough my mind. I am sorry for I have written this in a general way but all these general words are pointed to specific things in the film, which I am sure you are able to see.

Through this journey what we learn of the Begums of Bhopal is not much. But telling the story of Begums, I guess, is not the purpose or the intent of the film. The Begums like history live not through their details and documents but through the impact/ impression they leave on the times to come and generations to come and when the future lives them not by celebrating anniversaries but through living in daily lives.

You have captured the junction where past meets present, the youthful beauty of the wrinkles on the skin, the shine in the rings that are fading away.

A warm hug to you, Rachita.

~ Samvartha ‘Sahil’
19 Sep 2017

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Kissa-E-Khat ~ 2

September 7, 2016 at 9:15 PMSep (Friends, Letter, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

When I was leaving Delhi for Manipal she and I decided to write letters to each other. She said, “You write first.” I agreed. When I got back, I wrote her a letter, with all the love I had for her and that I could give her. Even after a month the letter did not reach her. I wrote a second letter which also did not reach her. Our conversations, all through this time, did continue via mail, sms, phone calls, gchat etc. But the letter just did not reach.

One evening as I was standing at a shop by the Manipal lake waiting for the rain to stop I got a message from her saying, “Just woke up from an afternoon nap. In my dreams both your letters had arrived. You had signed in the end and that is all I could read in my dream, not any other line.”

Bad postal services also could not stop letters being exchanged.

Letters have the quality of a dream. It is a personal and emotional truth. Letters exchanged in dreams are…

(Memory recollected while in a conversation with Rashmi Ramchandani around the magic and beauty of letter writing.)

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Kissa-E-Khat ~ 1

May 19, 2016 at 9:15 PMMay (Friends, Letter, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

When in a stranger town, for work, I befriended a person who was about to go abroad for higher studies in some days. When she left I shot her a mail and she replied. I responded. She answered.

We wrote to each other almost on a daily basis initially and quite regularly, if not daily, nearly after a month of daily exchange.

Slowly I started realizing that I was falling for her but was in denial for a long time. I was also trying to battle my feelings for her.

But then one day, I received a handwritten post card from the other side of the globe. That is it. I admitted to myself that I am in love with this girl and put on the ground all the weapons I had equipped myself with to battle my feelings.

She had drawn a flower on the card. I replied saying, “woh phool tanha mehsoos kar raha hai yahaan, tamaam gulshan ek lifaafey mein bhej deejiye…” (The flower is lonely. Please send an entire garden in an envelope)

I craved for more and I started loving her even the more.

It was that one hand written post card…

(Memory recollected while in a conversation with Rashmi Ramchandani around the magic and beauty of letter writing.)

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Talk To Her

August 28, 2015 at 9:15 AMAug (Cinema, Friends, Letter, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

[A slightly edited and rewritten version of the mail written to a friend last night after watching Pedro Almadovar’s film Talk To Her last evening. It was a quick response to the film, which I felt I could also share here on my blog]

talk to her

Since the film opens with Pina Bausch’s performance let me use a sentence once spoken by Pina to begin my loud thinking about the film. “I am not interested in how people move, but in what makes them move.” To me the film Talk To Her is also about what makes people move the way they move and not how they move and whether the way they move is right or wrong.

When the Lydia asks Marcom why he wants to do a write up on her he says he like “desperate” people! When Benigno goes to the psychiatrist he is asked what is troubling him and he says, “Loneliness.”

During the first bull fight scene, Nino de Valencia, who was Lydia’s partner ealier, is told by the man next to him that she would let the bull injure her so that he can see it. In the end when Benigno swallows all those pills its not to kill himself. He says he is hoping to reach a state of coma and in that state of being become close to Alicia. These are the two characters who take extreme steps in their desperate need to get away from loneliness and in the process end up, accidentally, killing themselves. Their need for a life without loneliness is such that they are ready to risk their lives for it, hoping to feel belonged, to gain attention, to be loved.

Marcom too is a lonely man who gets to witness closely two extremely desperate and extremely lonely people. But Marcom, though lonely, cannot go extreme levels, he cannot go irrational like Benigno and Lydia. That is why he refuses to talk to the Lydia when she is in coma, even when Benigno insists on him talking to her regularly. His hesitation to go all the way for love and in love is a double loss. He remains lonely and he fails in bringing the Lydia back to life. Benigno goes all the way and goes irrational in love and for love. He ends up bringing Alicia back to life and he lives a largely fulfilling life where he wasnt as lonely as Marcom since he had the company of Alicia.

Did Benigno rape Alicia? Was it against her consent? Though it appears like it was rape and without her consent (since she cannot speak), I think that within the world of the film and within the world of Benigno it is not a rape. Now we have to get slightly irrational here, to understand this.

But before that let me just deviate a bit since this part of the film i.e. Benigno allegedly raping Alicia leaves people within the film and outside the film uncomfortable and the act unacceptable. To me the question is not whether it is right or wrong. To me the question is, whether it is possible or not? and what makes it possible?

almadovarNot to say political correctness is a taboo. But probably stapling our expectations to political correctness, at times, becomes our limitation. And political correctness need not be, at least according to me, the preoccupation of an artist. Then it becomes sloganeering. Its only when art doesn’t mind being politically incorrect that it enters a realm of human life and human mind that we get to know something more about our own existence.

When Alicia’s teacher discusses her ideas with Alicia in the presence of Benigno we see Benigno telling the teacher that Alicia likes the idea. He is indicating the Alicia’s approval of the idea put forth by the teacher. He can hear/ sense her approval, her disapproval. He speaks to her and he can also listen to her or sense what she is saying. A strange communication which is beyond the understanding or comprehension of others does exist between the two. What looks like a “rape” to the world possibly was an act of love making with consent. And nowhere in the film nor in Benigno’s character we get a hint of him having the possibility of raping someone. Remember the moment when he has sneeked into Alicia’s room and is spotted by her while coming out from the bathroom. She screams and he says, “I am not harmful.”

The “desperation” the “loneliness” and also the “love” and “communication” of the characters are of a different kind. Its not “normal” in the worldly sense. Hence he is called a “psychopath,” which is a kind of ab-normalcy.

In the end a kind of normalcy is achieved, in the film, with the hint dropped about Marcom and Alicia possibly getting together. Like the teacher says, ‘life emerges from death,’ this normalcy emerges from ab-normalcy. Deep love, that of Benigno for Alicia, emerged from his deep loneliness. Great courage of the Lydia came from great insecurities and vulnerability.

Will Marcom and the girl get hooked? They will, I think. Because what brings Marcom and Lydia together is their loneliness their desperation. What brings Marcom and Benigno together is their loneliness and their desperation. Now with Marcom being alone again and in Benigno’s absence Alicia losing a companion, the possibilities of the two being lonely and feeling a connect and getting painfully connected is high. The reason the film doesnt show Marcom and Alicia hooking up is because both are quite hesitant by nature to explore and expand and to go all the way in love. So there is just a possibility that we see. Whether they will make use of the opportunity and become lovers depends on whether this time they will leave behind their hesitation.

The film is not just about loneliness, as I see it, it is also about how lonely people get painfully connected to each other. It is like what Faiz said, “baDa hai dard ka rishtaa.”

It is about what great loneliness and immense desperation can make people do. Its concern, as I see, is not how they move but why they move the way they move. In a way it celebrates love that has within it the possibility of going irrational and beyond the framework of normal. Because it is there that love and life can flourish.

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A Letter To My Love…

July 26, 2014 at 9:15 AMJul (Letter, Literature, Musings, Poetry)


While I was in High School you were in still in primary school. When you came to High School I had marched ahead. While you were still there I joined College but by the time you came there I was out of that place.

Recently when I came to that part of the world, you were home while, though we met briefly, I was visiting relatives and you went out for a family function while I was home. Next time I come home, you will be on a vacation and while you return, I will be packing my bag back to this stranger city.

Say, in which part of the world shall we meet?

You are a musician. Music is your language. I am a young man who attempts writing poems. Poetry is my language. I haven’t heard your music. You haven’t read my poems. You say that you do not understand poetry. I say I don’t understand music. If we enter the world of music, you are a practitioner of Carnatic music and I am one who enjoys Hindustani music. In the world of poetry I attempt poetry in Hindustani language. But you say that you don’t understand the Hindustani tongue.

Say, in which language shall we have a dialogue? In which language shall we communicate?

According to you I am a rational person, a realist who is opinionated towards the happenings of the world. To you I have brain at the centre of my self. I see you as an opposite to this. You yourself acknowledge that you are more of an imaginative being, who finds happiness living in an imaginary world. You like looking at colors of the world. Looking through your eyes, I have planted my eyes at the darkness which swallows every color. You are of the belief that you are an emotional being while I am an intellectual being. Your belief in God is strong. I believe that there is no God. You love animals. I find it disgusting if animals are in my immediate surrounding. I get attached to humans and you fear getting attached to humans.

Say, walking on which path shall we turn this dwaita in to adwaita?

You might ask- what is the need to meet at a point of the world and speak in a tongue that is familiar to both and have a dialogue and communicate to turn dwaita into adwaita?

Though not opposing, different points, different languages when met accidentally and walked two steps together, there was a spark which lit a lamp inside me. This lamp which went unrecognized by me till now has announced itself and as a result this letter is unfolding before you.

Yes, as your imagination and your awareness might have perceived by now, I have started liking you. When did this feeling build a nest inside me, is something which I myself am not aware of. But this feeling has been living within me from sometime, even before I myself realized its existence within me.

Drop by drop, when this feeling announced itself to me, I tried combating it with all sort of logic. It is true that I attempted to defeat it but in the process I got defeated and submitted myself to this feeling.

If you ask me what in you did I like, I have no answer. This silence can be understood as a feeling which cannot be enveloped in words. Shall I say that I fell for your music?- I havent heard your music to this day. Shall I say that I fell for your sharp bright eyes or for your captivating smile? If that is the case I should have fallen for you in the very first meeting of ours, for I had noticed the lovely eyes and smile of yours then itself. But it did not happen so. In the course of time, in your company, walking with you, speaking to you, laughing with you, unknowingly I started liking you.

By the time I woke up to this emotion of mine, I was in this stranger city. While taking lonely steps in the unknown roads of this city, attempting to reconstruct the broken life with bleeding hands, you and my feelings for you flowered completely within me. My loneliness, after the coming of spring, amidst the flowered feelings, started weaving dreams. Dreams about living and leading a life with you.

In the heart of this dream, there was an element of doubt. The doubt was this- will we be able to meet at one point and converse in a language which both of us will understand?

But during my recent visit to the home town, while we walked in the rain under the same umbrella, this doubt vanished. In that rain while you came and held the umbrella, may be, you too were aware that the small umbrella was not enough to save both of us from the rain completely. I was aware. But still we walked together. Half drenched and half clean.

The left part of my body was drenched in the rain and the right part of your body. But the right part of my body and the left part of your body remained clean and warm. That day, the right part of my body remained clean because the right part of your body got drenched. And the left side of your body remained clean because the left side of me got drenched.

Similarly, if we walk together may be my rational will get the wings of imagination and your imaginations will get the gravitation of reality. My poems can come together with your music to make a beautiful song.

Will you coat my poems with your music and turn it in to a beautiful song? I am ready to wet the left side of me to keep your left side clean. Will you wet your right side to keep my right side clean?

There is no urgency attached to the answer. Take your time. Give it a serious thought…

It appears to you that you are an emotional being and I a thinking being. But it is I who has let his emotions in this letter and it is you who will be thinking now. It appears to me that somewhere a part of you has entered me and a part of me has entered you. Without our notice have you become a part of me and have I become a part of you? Both of us need to think of this too…

Waiting for your answer. And for you…


Yours truly.

[A fiction love letter originally written for Helpost]

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ABVP Attacks FTII Students For Inviting Kabir Kala Manch

August 23, 2013 at 9:15 AMAug (Activism, Cinema, Friends, Letter, Media, Music, Slice Of Life)

1175355_653737214636284_418472786_nPune: Five students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) were attacked in the premises of the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) here on Wednesday, 21 August by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The attack took place soon after the screening of filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Jai Bhim Comrade and the performance of Kabir Kala Manch at NFAI. The programme was organized by the FTII student’s body in association with Yugpath, a youth forum based in Pune. This was the first public performance of Kabir Kala Manch after two and a half years.

The screening of the documentary and the performance by Kabir Kala Manch was finalised two weeks ago. There was a request to cancel the programme from various quarters respecting the call for bandh as a mark of protest against the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dhabolkar. But Yugpath and the FTII student’s body decided to stick to their plan and go ahead with the screening and performance as a mark of respect and homage to Dhabolkar.

According to Kislay, one of the organisers of the programme, the “ABVP hooligans” walked out of the screening and waited for three hours outside the NFAI premises for the programme to get over to confront the Kabir Kala Manch artists and the organizers. Around 12 of them started crying slogans such as “Bharat Maata Ki Jai” “Vande Mataram” and “Down down Naxals.” which sparked a confrontation between theABVP members and the FTII students, Kislay says. While students Shameen, Ansar Sha, Kislay and Ajayan were hit by sticks holding the saffron flags that the ABVPmembers were carrying, Sriram Raj was attacked with a helmet on his head causing a serious head injury which had to be immediately attended to in a nearby hospital.

Ajayan who also got beaten up said that his cry for help went unanswered even by the police. Many students confirmed the presence of the police outside the NFAI campus minutes before the attack took place. Ajayan said that the attack was not a spontaneous reaction but a well thought out and planned attack.

The FTII students have lodged a complaint against the ABVP at the Prabhat Police Station. The students said they viewed the attack not just against an attack on their freedom of speech and expression but also as an indication of the growing fascist forces that had also allegedly, murdered Dhablokar just the previous day in the city.

Interestingly, the members of ABVP have also filed complaints against the students of FTII at the Prabhat Police Station. They alleged that two of their members were injured and had to be hospitalised, while protesting the participation of an objectionable group (Kabir Kala Manch) in a programme organized by FTII, which is a Central government institute, “ABVP activists did not beat up FTII students. They might have hit Kabir Kala Manch artists after being hit by them first,” Vivekanand Ujalambkar,ABVP Pune Unit Secretary said.

Meanwhile, the Student’s Association of FTII issued a statement condemning the incident and added, “We the students are extremely distressed at this incident. How long can this hooliganism carry on?”

Neeraj Jain of Lokayat, an activist group based out of Pune, condemned the attack on the students and said, “It is a democratic set up and one has the democratic right to perform. ABVP cannot act like the police. When the judiciary has let the members of Kabir Kala Manch on bail what right does ABVP have to question their right to perform?

Playwright Makarand Sathe reacting to the incident said he condemns it and added, “Attacking artists is more condemnable because it is they who create a space for dialogue in a democratic society. Closing down of such spaces for dialogue by any fascist forces, driven whichever specific ideology, is a far bigger threat than it looks on surface.

Ajayan and Kislay speak: click here

Kislay speaks: click here

Press release: click here

(An edited version of this report was published in Tehelka daily)

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