Saturday, July 18, 2009

Colour Perception and Should I Stop Writing?

Feeling down, having the blues, mood nahi, all said with a sad shake of the head. Bad vibes travelled down the net and found a tender spot the day before yesterday, i.e. Thursday the 16th of July. Two such inauspicious – in a manner of speaking – occurrences un-nerved me more than a little. On a forum which I am a member, a very aggressive sort of individual attacked me on a discussion regarding “colour” and “colour perception.” Actually it started off as a discussion on this article by African-American Diepiriye Kuku who while relating his racist experience in Indiamentioned among other things, “Racism is never a personal experience. Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes this lawlessness and disdain for dark skin.”

I had agreed with the view of Diepiriye Kuku and mentioned on the forum that in India there’s deep rooted discrimination masquerading as “colourism.” Discrimination is more facile and evident in Delhi than in Bombay, which I discovered on my visits to the earlier-mentioned city. Along came this member who opined that I should “get real” instead of whining about colour and colourism. How can I take this charge that I should get real (which meant – sort of – that I should also “get a life” and sweep the issue away from my consciousness, which I wasn’t willing to do) I demanded an apology and got one. Shows we should stick to our guns when we are bullied in online forums.

What does it feel like if a former colleague and fellow writer, actually, a publisher, tells you: “pal [sic. Pray why this familiar Americanism?] i [sic] suggest you stop writing[.] do [no capitalisation here] your work that earns your money and stop peddling your ware as a novel[.] this [again no capitalisation] 'advice' [you] might find hard, but that is the truth; you are not cut out for it[.]

I nearly burst out laughing. My answer to him is: yes, I will consider stopping what I do, if you consider my suggestion of stopping what you do.

For the funny part is: this individual calls himself a publisher (albeit of the “vanity” type), and produces books (if I can call them that) that have no aesthetic value and you would die of boredom if you read even a few pages of his things (I know, I have spent sweat-of-my-brows for a few of his books and tried). The paper quality, editing, proofing, layout, pagination, style, everything is so bad, you would wonder why he didn’t take a crash course in book publishing before setting out in publishing. Or, is he going through some financial crisis, or something? Quite possible. You can't fool writers and authors and get away with it, they eventually get their revenge, mind you. That's why a politician I knew always said, "Never pick up a fight with a writer, they can maul you so bad, you may never recover."

Can people be so ruthlessly cruel and so casually crude? Yes, in the cannibalistic Indian literary world they can, but, then, it can happen on the same day, too, as it did in my case.

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