Friday, October 17, 2014

From ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous. Profiles’ by Khushwant Singh with Humra Quraishi

….Ali Sardar [Jafri] summed up his life story. ‘Mera Safar’, thus in a few memorable lines:
I am a fleeting moment
In the magic house of days and nights;
I am a restless drop travelling eternally
From the flask of the past to the goblet of the
I sleep and wake, awake to sleep again;
I am the ancient play on the stage of time -
I die only to become immortal

….Dom’s [Dom Moraes] verse …..One could ….detect a few themes that recurred consistently in his poems: he was obsessed with death …his mother’s insanity haunted him all his life; and he sought escape in hard liquor and making love. He summed it up in ‘A Letter’,
My father hugging me so hard it hurt,
My mother mad, and time we went awy.
We travelled, and I looked for love too young,
More travel, and I looked for lust instead.
I was not ruled by wanting; I was young,
And poems grew like maggots in my head.

When Dom was stricken with cancer, he refused to undergo chemotherapy. It was as if he almost wallowed in the prospect of an early end, with the ghost of his insane mother hovering over him.
From a heavenly asylum, shriveled Mummy,
glare down like a gargoyle at your only son.
…That I’m terminally ill hasn’t been much
There is no reason left for anything to exist.
Goodbye now. Don’t try to meddle with this.

Zakhmi huey jo hont toh mehsoos yeh hua
Chooma tha maine phool ko deevangi ke sath

It was the bruises on my lips that made me
With what thoughtlessness I had kissed the rose

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, ….fully answered the poet Allama Iqbal’s requirements of a Meer-e-Kaarvaan – leader of the caravan:
Nigah buland, sukhan dilnawaz, jaan par soz
Yahi hain rakht-e-safar Meer-e-Kaarvaan ke liye

Lofty vision, winning speech and a warm
This is all the baggage the leader of the caravan
needs on his journey.

….Sangh parivar …..They were men of polite manners, obvious sophistication and intelligence who cloaked their fascist ideas in sweet reasonableness, with impeccable etiquette ….Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar …. There were passages in his 1939 tract, We, or Our Nationhood Defined, that seemed to suggest that Golwalkar shared Hitler’s ideas about racial purity and approved of his methods to purge Germany of Jews. …..small room. In it sat a dozen men in spotless white kurtas and dhotis – all looking newly washed as only Maharashtrian Brahmins can manage.

I have been a regular drinker all my adult life. I celebrate sex and cannot say that I have never lied. I have not hurt anyone physically, but I think I have caused hurt with my words and actions. And sometimes there is no forgiveness in me. But I consider myself a Gandhian. Whenever I feel unsure of anything, I try to imagine what Gandhi would have done, and that is what I do.

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