The battle has begun from Kolkata. With the battle ground shifting next week to New Delhi, there could be several offshoots. Foremost, Mamata Banerjee would come to the center-stage! Fierce or shall we say fiercer and shriller will be those cries and counter cries. In fact, she is one of those leaders who doesn’t ever spare any of the BJP and RSS wallahs.
It’s an absolutely frontal attack on the Yogis and Modis and Shahs of the day. She is sure to list out the exact failures of the government of the day, together with the killings and hounding taking place.
She could also take up the EVM issue, after all, the entire opposition is well aware of the fact that all their combined efforts to halt the fascist forces could reduce it to a near-nil especially if the EVMs turn faulty or are fiddled with. As I have been writing all along the entire controversy vis-a-vis the EVMs, it is saddled with facts yet the Election Commission insist on discarding pleas to get back the ballot paper before the 2019 elections.
Why not the ballot paper! It is the traditional way to get through the entire election process, so why don’t we stick to this safer option and not to go for any of the hi-tech ways amidst the prevailing political climate, where the rulers of the day are said to be in a mood to manipulate and control power.
It is needless to say that these upcoming 2019 elections are going to be absolutely crucial. If the Right-Wing comes to power, it will be nothing short of a disaster. Already deep divisions, dangerous polarisation is writ large.
Have you wondered what future awaits us if the Right-Wing comes back to power? We might not remain intact. We could witness the further destruction of the remaining fabric of democracy. We could be further riddled with factions and fractures. Our voices could be silenced like never before. And all those putting up a fight could be arrested on various charges and dumped to languish in the jails, detention centres and interrogation centres.
Are we, on a collective level or at an individual level taking on enemies? Do we flourish well within the confines of this country? No, we don’t. We are either very occupied with trying to feed ourselves which leaves little time to think of what tomorrow could hold out for us. Or else, political gloom has begun to gnaw at us, hitting nerves and wearing the psyche down. Another obstructing factor could be the various distractions thrown in way.
The counters to the growing anarchy could be in the form of screenings of the award-winning film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ - which portrays the sheer disaster unfolding in Rwanda when the civil war took over and with that the two warring tribes/communities killed and raped each other.
Or else, read aloud, Khushwant Singh’s book ‘End of India’ (Penguin) where he writes in great detail of the disasters that the fascist Right-Wing will heap on our country and at us. Or else go around and spread details of the present realities of the day: obscene corruption, growing joblessness, crumbling structures- human and otherwise, the government’s hold on independence of institutions, fake political promises and the illusions and promises thrown about. The list is long.
Born in 1924, in Lucknow, singer Talat Mahmood, would have turned 95 this February. Though I also hail from Lucknow but I never met him, nor his immediate family. But I did manage to gather several details about him from Rafia Hussain, the late cuisine expert of Avadh who had settled down in New Delhi.
Interestingly, she was related to both, Begum Akhtar and also to Talat Mahmood. She was the niece of Begum Akhtar’s husband barrister Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi, and Talat Mahmood was her mother’s first cousin, so with that connection, he was her mamu/maternal uncle. “There was a difference of about 20 years between us. And those pre-partition days he’d lived with his family on Lucknow’s Batashe-Wali-Gali. Our families met regularly, visited each other’s homes very frequently. His father, Manzoor Mahmood, owned an electric fittings cum a gramophone shop, and he was better known as the one who sang Iqbal’s popular tarana ‘Chino Arab hamara/Hindustan hamara’... He sang it at every Muslim League function, later our meetings lessened and then stopped, as his family migrated to Pakistan.”
When I had asked Rafia why Talat Mahmood did not migrate to Pakistan when his entire clan shifted there, she had this to say- “I think at the time of the Partition Talat mamu and his elder sister were in Calcutta. And though his entire family did migrate to Pakistan, but he and his elder sister opted to stay back in India.”
I had also asked Rafia if the personal upheavals in his life and marriage were the cause of his ill health?
“Foremost, I must say that contrary to all those reports, he was happily married. Though his wife Nasreen comes from a different background and she is a Christian, but they were compatible and till the end she really cared for him. She was warm to his relatives who visited them.”
Then why that emotional pain in his voice? “Temperamentally he could not adjust to the ways of the film world. Also, the initial shock that his entire family had migrated to a new country and would be settling down there forever, had affected him to a certain extent. He was far too sensitive, he’d internalized that pain. But till the very end he was sure that he would never leave his home country, after all, he had opted to stay back at any cost.”
With Spring and Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’m leaving you with these lines of Ghalib- “You stand away, and purse your lips/and show their rosebud form/ I said, ‘How do you kiss?’ Come, kiss my lips and say, ‘Like this!’
And also, these lines of Mir, “My love, I cannot tell the tale of all the things I want from you /A hundred longings fill my soul, a thousand yearnings throng my heart.”