Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fire and Rose

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice

T.S. Eliot. Little Gidding


Unrelenting hope amidst unfathomable despair.

India was here before. Bofors, Shah Bano, Mandal, Kashmir, LTTE, Masjid, IMF, Bluestar, Bhopal. India endured.

Best part, it wasn't a messianic strongman who led us out.

Gandhi spoiled us. We search for superheroes who do not exist.

Democracy spoiled us. We seek angelic outcomes from human institutions.

Vastness spoiled us. We summon strength from our continent-sized weaknesses.

It isn't a superhero or an institution or her vastness that will save India, rather the common sense and ability and hard work of ordinary Indians.

I learned this from an illiterate Indian carpenter. Born in caste-riven Eastern UP to parents who could give him nothing, he bootstrapped himself out of despair, went overseas, and became indispensable to privileged hotshots like me. I asked him, why? So that, one day, my children will grow up to be like you, he told me.

I've never been more humbled in my life.

He couldn't care less for patronizing superheroes who saw only his faith and caste and poverty as vanity projects to pad their egos. There were no institutions where he grew up. He was a nobody among India's intimidating vastness. 

But this illiterate carpenter taught himself to be more skilled at what he did than superheroes could ever dream of being. He saved himself with unrelenting aspiration, sheer will, and his own two hands.

This is how India will be saved. All she needs is for superheroes to get out of her way.


Let me end where I started.

And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one

Happy new year!


Ranjith said...

We do not need a superhero. But we need a leader. A leader who is a human being, who can lead from the front, and make decisions.

The Native Opinion said...

Seriously, Ranjith, what part of the above lament-story did you not get; would not a leader, albeit human, and non-corrupt, and decisive and other favorable adjectives, be well a superhero.

- Mike

Hemanth V said...

Really appreciate your poetic writing. have lot of admiration for some of your views. but a few points I am compelled to make. And I do hope you will have the courtesy to approve my comments to be published on this blog - because none of my comments ever on Twitter or any any other forum have any of the abusive content.
I had a few words of praise for Modi on his development work in Gujarat, mind you - I am not a fanatics who says whatever he does is right. I only said - we should go by whatever the SC final judgment says on the 2002 riots cases. you found that to be so objectionable that you blocked me..!!.
Don't you think, its being intolerant to the views which are against yours?.
We can always agree to disagree on so many things. if you apply the logic that all the people who admire Modi are evil - what about Ratan Tata?, Abdul Kalam?,Amitab?. they have lot of admiration for Modi, does that make all of them evil?.
Now you have protected your account, you remain anonymous and you don't even leave your blog open for comments, which means - you always want to hear good things about your views. you shut the door on criticism under the disguise of protecting against 'trolls', 'RSS' etc. (for the record I am not a fan of RSS either). what does all of this show?. intolerance, unable to accept I wrong?.
I always find you advocating free speech, arguments etc. isn't there a contradiction between what you what others to do and what you yourself do?.

Finally, sir- my age is lesser than your experience (As you yourself told me once) - I don't think there is any abuse in my comment or post..I hope you find it good enough to approve it to be posted here...All the best...

Primary Red said...


Thanks for your note which, as you'll note, has been published.

I'd urge you to look at responses to other posts, many of which attack me personally and I have not censored these. I would only censor abusive or irrelevant comments.

To be clear, freedom of speech is a notion that holds that Governments must not suppress free speech of individuals. Because I advocate free speech does not mean I, as a private individual, need to engage with everyone - whether or not I like them or the company they keep.

In your case, you have indeed been respectful. However, the company you keep or people you routinely engage with are not people I like personally. I wouldn't shake their hands if I saw them on the street. It's a free world and I wish them well but they don't belong in mine - even their shadow is not welcome. You are comfortable with such despicable people which, because I don't know you well, makes you suspect too. And you have attacked harshly close friends of mine.

Now, this may not be fair. But life isn't fair. And is too short to spend on people who one may not like. Those I engage with on twitter are people I personally like. I disagree with many - including some Modi bhakts and socialists - but I like them as people. There is no rule that requires me to open my personal space to strangers.

I do appreciate the sincerity of your note and wish you well. Hope you will understand the reasons for my caution on twitter.