Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Of Not Forgetting One's Past...

There’s a kind of emptiness. Are there no more subjects to blog? Writing can be tiresome. Have I stopped trying to essay my thoughts, to drag things out by sheer force of will, is the runner tired and stumbling? My rankings aren’t improving, and what has been gained seems fast dissipating, disappearing into nothingness, all my dreams shattered, new goals taking their place, new priorities appearing over the horizon.

I sit for a few minutes and ponder the inevitability of being struck dumb in writing as in daily life. Many times I am struck dumb by people’s words reactions. A guy in the office floored me by some observation he made. Daily occurrences, daily recurrences of the same old thing. How do I come out of it? As some wise guy said, “That too shall pass, as the wind should after eating beans.” Hehe.

In “Sea of Poppies” I am reading the section where the girmitiyas are being taken to Mareech as bonded labourers. It’s a depressing section. I am sorry for Neel who has lost everything and is being transported as an ordinary prisoner to Mareech. And the lot of the girmitiyas (“girmit” is a corruption of “agreement” which was the paper these people signed in agreement to be taken to Mareech), isn’t very good either. Most of them are marginal people whose fields have been sold to or appropriated by the greedy Englishmen and the British East India Company that trades in opium. Neel’s entire zemindary has been appropriated by Mr. Burnham since he couldn’t repay his debt, and to add insult to injury he has been arrested for forgery and is being sent to Mareech as a common prisoner. On the way to Mareech he passes his zemindary of Rashkali and remembers his days of glory as the Raja of Rashkali.

Around twenty years ago I and my wife were sitting behind a West Indian couple of Indian origin on a trip to Agra. They were dressed in western clothes and spoke English. What surprised me was the woman’s observation, “This country is ******.” It shocked me that they should speak thusly about the country of their origin from which their forefathers had emigrated with such difficulty. It sounded rather odd that they should talk about denigrate their own ancestors who have given up all hope and went as virtual slaves to an alien country. It shocked me like the occurrence I mentioned in para two.

One should never, ever forget where one came from. I will never forget the small village of Kidangannoor where I was born and spent the first eight years of my life. It’s a beautiful place I visit it once every year – I have to – I have a house there, which I have maintained even through a stage when the need for money was overpowering. Because that’s my roots and I hope to go and live there someday. Now they say an airport is coming up next to it and the approach road will cut through the fields in front of my house. An airport will mean development, business, traffic and a lot things, besides appreciation of the value of my property. But where are the green fields I used to fish in, where I used to stand and watch the labourers plant rice?

1 comment:

Julia Dutta said...

I am Glad John you have advertised your blog on gmail. I too would like to move over to becoming a Web Content Writer. Like you writing is my passion too and I must do it everyday only sometimes as you say, frankly it seems the well has dried up....one just waits to start again.
Julia