Friday, January 31, 2020

First Month, First Post

Even though it's the last day of the month in a year that might be the last of the decade or the first of a new one, I've done poorly on the renewed blogging promise I made to myself last year. 

I'm not surprised; are you?

Because what a couple of months it's been here. I'm going to put no links to anything, but it would be weird to look back ten years hence and see not one word on this blog about how the young and old, and especially the women have turned out on to the streets to protest the CAA, and the imminent NPR and NRC. [You'll have to look up the terms because I'm not going to explain.]

I still don't know why this, and not Aadhaar, not Kashmir, not any of the many things this government has been systematically doing to make real their ideal of the authoritarian state. But I'm grateful.

Some time in December, my mother, my son and I all went to a protest in Hyderabad. It was one of the earlier ones, but many of the people who turned up were well informed, had read up about stuff. Passersby slowed down to read the placards; some nodded along to what they saw. After a couple of hours my mum got dizzy so we gave her some water and then we left.

This can't be a precis of the last two months, it really can't. You won't know from spending time here, but there are times when events in the world consume all one's attention and this has been one of those times. What comes out of me, though, are photos of flowers and cats, silliness and a ton of retweets. All this is on twitter. Here, there's a silence I don't yet know what to make of or how to interrupt.

The bearing witness school of poetry is something I haven't been able to do for a while now. My first collection had a few poems that responded, immediately, to contemporary events. I felt like a kind of Lyra with the alethiometer, displaying a very temporary, instinctive talent. I couldn't do it now; and I'm not sure I would even if I could. 

But I've been listening to and reading those who can, and it's been wonderful to see poetry used again with purpose (as it were), to once more meaning something to people who have frequently claimed it doesn't move them, they don't understand it, all that. At the Hyderabad Lit Fest, the closing session in the poetry stream was a poetry of resistance session. I wasn't there because of reasons, but I was kind of responsible for the session and I'm told it went well. 

As I try to get back to writing after a two month hiatus, I try to keep in my heart the sheer doggedness of the protesters, turning up at a call in the middle of the night, turning up in the cold, participating in flash protests because there's no "permission" to gather and protest peacefully, turning up even though they must know with the same sinking feeling many of us have, that it's all going to get much worse before it gets better.

I don't know if I'll publish a book again. Other people are energised by the thought of how little time they have left, and write productively and well. I, conscious of the same feeling of time running out, feel torn between not bothering at all, and writing only for pleasure sometimes, and doggedly at others. One must work at something, after all.

Maybe I'll bring some of that doggedness to this blog this year. Don't hold your breath though.