Monday, November 29, 2010

The Wailing after Rape

I happened to be near a group conversation between some travellers on the train. The subject matter of discussion was on the efficacy and moral strength of death penalty for crimes such as the one that shook Coimbatore when two little children were kidnapped, tortured, molested and murdered. From the lack of deterrence to virtual question of ethics the discussion on death penalty went quite animatedly.

Back home sitting alone I recalled the group and their subject of discussion. Death penalty or its deterrence of crime was a secondary matter as I felt the mangling that ensues mentally to the victim of rape and violation be it, physical, emotional, dispossession or in other forms will not fade away.

Could there be a life after for the victim? Who must be impaled, the perpetrator or the disaffected,deaf onlooker who thumps his nose sky ward with apathy?

What is more heinous and despicable, rape or deriving carnal and perverted pleasure watching the act and the misery of the victim through a key hole, while you had the entire wherewithal and prowess to stop the abhorrence from being enacted?

The word rape is used here in the wider context, a kind of macro level meaning. It necessarily not has to be a physical assault with sexual intent. It can be, besides physical violation, a emotional sodomy,a casual and cool acquiescence, attitude, act or the absence of it that does not interfere or prevent the mauling of another person   sexually,physically,mentally or  emotionally and deprive him of the dignity that is dear to any living being, man or beast.

And is it humanly possible for the victim of rape (again, see it in wider context), to sleep with the perpetrator and more so with the unashamed onlooker ? What if the onlooker is the  victim's own kin?An evangelical answer is not what is required here. Because evangelising to the victim of neglect, atrocity and gross apathy is a sermon that is crueller than the mauling that was inflicted?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Praise of C - on a Sunday

It is time for some more fascinating utterances from C.

Ara, is here on a brief recess from college. He is twenty, and seems to have ceased growing vertical. I commented this fact the other night. He would be around 5’9 , that is almost  three inches shorter than I’m . In fact I and C thought all the while, he might shoot past the 6” mark. Well that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Ara was a bit annoyed that he has ceased growing tall physically. Hearing my comment he turned to his mother and said. “Amma this is because of you, your midget height” (incidentally C is 5”4). He continued, “I have taken after your height and that is why I do not grow taller physically than  atcha”. He expressed his frustration mildly. Adding to his little frustration  Radhu is growing vertically by the day, and her legs seem to be almost two thirds of her height. She is already 5’7 and is only 17.

Not to be left behind C jumped out with the statement denying her genetic responsibility in Ara not growing  tall than he is now. She said, “ Ara  you ceased to grow tall because you did not heed my advice to hang daily”.

Ara and I,almost in chorus shouted, “rather not put on height if only you would refrain from your fabulous observations in English”. Ara continued , "Amma you should say ‘pull- ups’, and not hanging, Funny a mother asking his son to hang daily ... ha h ha" . The cruelty of literal translation of mallu words and ideas to the Queens English!

I guess anything more of C’s will be too full for the Sunday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Musings in the Dark

It was terrific rainy night, day, and, then a night again.
The splatter of the rain outside,
reminding the gone days of Kerala monsoon nights.
The rain beat severe on the roof, and all around outside
As dusk came sooner than it would,
I longed for the elixir of life.

Not to be left behind the lightning struck
the cymbal followed ;
all the lights went out ,the sweetness of dark dawned like sunrise.
And caressing the glass of amruth- I sat in the dark.

The candle burning bright
I saw the flame haughty and regale.
The air of immortality, and lordliness
unashamedly thrown around.

A tiny fly went past the flame.
And the little turbulence bend the flare.
Yet, accepting not its frailty, the flame jumped back with insolent vigour.
It then reminded me of men and women
who bask in the feel of omnipotence ,loudly denying their ephemeral existence!

I washed down my smile
with an added mouth full of the elixir, and
continued to watch the flame with the wryest smile I could bring about.
It began to rain and howl with more vigour, perhaps telling me,
fella, ‘you have a point’.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stone Idols

Continuing with my reading the book I began a  few days ago on my train journey to Chennai and back, I stumbled upon another interesting piece – the essay was titled “Cartesian Thoughts on Hindu Stone Gods”, the theory of doubt being used to analyse an unknown phenomenon.
The essay begins with the statement that westerners were brought up learning to believe only what can be seen and to have faith only in what is experienced. Under the umbrella of logic and reason from Rene Descartes – the Mathematician, physicist and philosopher.
I reproduce an abstarct of the reading I had.

Those of us from the west are taught to disbelieve in the unnatural, the supernatural, and the religious and generally what is invisible to the eye. Many with Marxist leanings and touch of atheism. This is why many of us when we come to India , have difficulty with the way Hindus adore gods in statues .How in heaven can there be any divine presence in piece of stone ?
Yet a few westerners, instead of rejecting outright this pagan habit sustained for millennia, have tried to analyse it, using the very Cartesian logic with which we are endowed because of our education. One such person was Alexandra David – Neel, writer, explorer, and the first western woman to have explored Tibet way back in the 1940’s.
She remarked,” The energy which the Hindus project on the idol is not totally immateraial.The existence of the real or not of the deity is unimportant, what matters is the accumulation of psychic force in the idol ,a kind of charging a car battery. Once fully charged one can draw out energy from the battery. With the persistent devotion, adoration and frenzied prayers, the statue continues to get charged. Once fully charged one can draw energy out of it. This happens over centuries”.
Her summing up is simple, Gods are created by the energy emitted by the faith in their existence.

Will this rather scientific or unscientific explanation of idol worship be sufficient to convince disbelievers?

The fact is all religions however Cartesian they are, have their share of beliefs in the supernatural and unscientific. Is it more rational (than worshipping idols) to think, for instance. as Catholics do, that Mary conceived a child while a virgin, or that Christ came back from the dead and ascended physically to heaven, or that Muhammad  was transported to Paradise in the skies in a Golden Chariot sent specially  flown down, or the God of Moses inflicted plague on the hapless  subjects of the all powerful Pharaoh?

Descartes must be turning in his grave- the rational, logical thinking west!! (My quote)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Euripides , the ancient Greek 480-406 BC- one of the three great tragedians of ancient Greek
How right Euripides was when he muttered -

The mob gets out of hand,
Runs wild, worse;
Than raging fire,
While the man who stands apart
Is called a coward!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Archers Thumb

Train travels during day are invariably a gross waste of time in the most unproductive way. So when I had to do one such travel the past Sunday, I could only curse my stars for inflicting on me the need and necessity to make that travel. I grabbed a book along, and it was, "The Best of Speaking Tree”, a compilation of essays by the Times of India. It came to me as a token gift for some subscriptions I made. Some of the essays were matter of fact and able to provoke thought.Certainly a lesser quality as held by many. After all many people hate (not dislike) inconvenient questions and any form of distant threat to the utopian cocoons they are living in.But being a non conformist in many ways, I loved the reading and also, reproduce below a few paragraphs from the book. If ire comes about as comments I welcome happily as I would, a comment of agreement.

We routinely hear of atrocities on Dalits, tribals and others in the marginalised sections of society. However, today they no longer suffer oppression passively, as in the past, when they meekly allowed the caste system to dominate India’s social life. One such person who acquiesced in the humiliation of the subaltern has become a permanent symbol of injustice:' Ekalavya'. The original hunter-gatherer of upper India. Hearing of Dhronacharya, the archery teacher of the Kauravas, Ekalavaya went to him, naively not taking into account the racial arrogance of the Aryans.

Dhrona refused to instruct Ekalavaya. Undaunted Ekalavaya makes a wood statuette of Dhrona and under the eye of the symbolic guru taught himself the skills of archery. Once on a hunting trip the Pandavas found that their dog’s mouth had been sealed by arrows, a feat impossible even for the gifted Arjuna.Searching for the wondrous archer the Pandavas came upon Ekalvaya.Vyasan says that because of his dark complexion and unkempt looks, the dog barked at him and so he shut its mouth with arrows. When asked who his guru was, Ekalavaya pointed to Dhronas statuette.

Peeved Arjuna went to Dhrona, complaining that none should be able to surpass him in archery. Dhrona in turn rushed off to the jungle to meet Ekalavaya, who fell at his feet in reverence. Dhrona asked for his guru- dahakshina, and demanded Ekalavaya’s thumb. By offering his thumb, Ekalavaya was marginalised forever.

During our younger days and in early schooling times this story was repeatedly told to each of us, as a symbol of idealism in  guru- shishya relationship.

With its customary impartiality, the Mahabarataha, on the other hand, tells it as a sordid story of one –upmamship (Arjuna), lack of moral scruples (Dhrona) and an excessive respect for systems and authority (Ekalavya).
This drama has been enacted in every society, whether with Native Indians of America, and Africans in the USA or the blacks in South Africa and Rhodesia, or in the caste system in India.

The moral of the story is simple:
“The privileged fear the possibility of an Ekalavaya arising among the exploited. And so the thumbs of innumerable Ekalavayas fall to the ground- must fall to the ground, cut off before they can guide another arrow unerringly to its mark”.
( quote by the author)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Musings from the Street Side

She lives on the street
By the side festooned with garbage
Squatting amongst the muck thrown by folks
Rags around her torso -skin and bones
Dishevelled hair knotted with dirt and lock
Gaze, that goes through, from the deep set eyes.

Picking pebbles with her bonny fingers
Throwing listless, as if staving something afar!
Sun or rain, day or night,
she is there amongst the heap of waste.

Picking at times at the
remnants  of food ,squander -thrown at random
from the messy mess by the road.
She throws the crumps at the dogs that lurk
rummaging the muck amongst that she dwells!
I see her each day, a ghostly shadow,
 a distant semblance of  human form.

Ruth and anguish snaring me,
 I bought a pack of shiny white rice
with curry thrown  atop, I gathered to reach her.
She turned around in her squat
And seemed to tell me with her eyes
Why bring me that? Why prolong me here?
The soul has left me long ago, and the breath soon will,.
So why, brother why, bring me any morsel?