Ajai R. Singh MD

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Thank you, St Tamas, for favours granted

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Reprinted from New Quest, May-June, 1989, 75, p165-167.

Notes

 

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1.   Thank you, St. Tamas, for

Favours Granted

 

 

   WE WISH TO SHARE some of our anger with you. This anger is over the serial Tamas. No doubt you have enjoy­ed its gripping, if gory, depiction of the human saga that went with the communal fury that formed part of India's parti­tion. We have enjoyed it too. No doubt you feel the sincerity of both the writer and the producer-director in trying to attempt such a bold topic and appre­ciate his frank and fearless depiction of events, sparing none. We too are with you in feeling so. No doubt you wish to congratulate Doordarshan authorities for bringing such a fine serial on the screen and allowing you to dispassionately view the misdeeds of the communal elements of both sides then who still rear their ugly heads today. We cannot agree less. No doubt you wish to apportion blame, have decided who are guilty and want a wider articulation of the same. We too - wait, here we do not probably agree.

 

And that is why we are angry.

 

  For all the bravos and plaudits shower­ed on this T.V. serial, Tamas, has any­body thought of the ideas it gives to those whose wounds are reopened by such recounting? Or those who may be bent on creating communal strife only to prove their strength or, worse still, just a point? For such individuals can set mischief afoot once again and, paradoxically enough, the serial's suggestions themselves may be taken to carry them out. Can you guarantee us that if any one of them tomorrow thinks of killing a pig and leaving it at the door-step of a mosque it will not be enough of a pre­tense to start a riot once again; or for that matter hanging a leg of beef in front of a temple? And in either case the perpetrator of such an act can be a mem­ber of either community. In fact the serial having already inflamed the pas­sions of those who only need a spark to ignite the seething fire of hatred and revenge lying unresolved within, a mass conflagration would be easily brought about. And to match the raw power of past wounds would vie the raw ulcers of new and freshly inflicted ones.

 

We hate to suggest it to you, but then all you drawing-room easy-chair appre­ciators of the idiot-box, its serial-makers and their enthusiastic supporters, will just sit tight in your drawing-rooms under lock and key and cry for police and state protection. And none will have the guts to march out to face the fury of the communalists whose ire will be let loose on the unprotected poor, living already exposed to poverty, squalor, greed and lust of the most depraved of either community. For they have no alarm systems or telephones to contact the police; they have no means of self ­protection even (which, probably goes hanging in hand with a poor sense of privacy, if any); and most of them have to sleep either in the open or in ramshackle tenements which offer only a roof above with hardly any security below, from marauders as much as champions. Do we not know how it is such as these who often bear the major brunt of the offensive of a communal riot, and persons such as these belong to either commu­nity?

No, we hold no quarter for the com­munalists and do not feel like defending them one bit. But we must warn you that your smug hailing of this serial has rami­fications of which you are probably un­aware. And we are not ready to buy anybody’s  thesis that the bigotry of the com­munalists can be fought by the equally bigoted beliefs of others, howsoever re­formist may be their outer cover. The difficulty is further compounded by the fact that the former at least make no pretense, or a poorly camouflaged one, if any, the latter have appeal and take themselves and you for a ride with their messianic fervour all the time.

     It is of course fashionable in this country to make the RSS-BJP- Vishwa Hindu Parishad combine the whipping boy for all the communal ills that this country faces; and also, probably as an after thought, the 'intellectual' includes the names of the Muslim League­-Jamaat-E-Islam and other muslim organizations, just to appear fair in apportion­ing blame. The serial's picturization of elements only enhances this image. That is the reason for the pique and for the vandalism resorted to by members of the RSS-BJP group in Hyderabad and elsewhere: that is probably also the reason the  communal combine on the other side was smirkily laughing and enjoying their predicament, resting content to lie low and allow the other group to further earn a bad name by their irresponsible show of anger and frustration. What is also understandable is the behaviour of the Congressites and the other so called pro­gressives who must enjoy the spectacle of the serial that glorifies them as well as ensures the angry reaction of the RSS-BJP combine, because the latter's reaction, whether legitimate or other­wise, just the very fact that they con­demn the serial or agitate against it, is enough to confirm the communal label being slapped on them once again. And in all beliefs, as in half-truths and lies, repeated reaffirmation of faith with coloured viewing of events is a must, for it keeps alive illusionary and vapid theo­ries built up to support self-serving ideo­logies. In this context the misfortune of the Indian Hindu comes through glaring­ly who, to prove his secular bonafides, must take every available opportunity to deny his own Hinduism. That the leftist must do so is understandable, for he is constantly fighting his own rightist inner leanings. That the Congress should as well fall a prey to this is not only deplorable, it is the most unfortunate thing that could have happened to Hindu society as such. On the one hand this gives credence to rank communal ele­ments amongst the Hindu society to swell their ranks and further carry out their protectionist-confrontationist acti­vities; on the other it involves both the Congress and the progressives on the left in an unholy alliance to keep alive a secular image of the Indian polity which, more often than not, only amounts to Hindu-baiting. The results of this are obvious to those who wish to keep their mental faculties open. Whilst the Hindu today has tended to deny his Hinduism and shies away from any pride in it, howsoever legitimate, the Muslim need have no such  pretensions for he can continue to remain as unaffected in his socio-economic beliefs as in his religion, his sacred code itself giving him such legitimacy. This is not to discount the true progressives on either side whose secularism is board. But that is because they are humanists essentially and consider them-selves Indians first, next and only then Hindu or Muslim. Such individuals do not come within the purview of our comment here. This is not to deny their importance, it is only to stress their minority status today for which probably we are all to blame.

    These then are the bare facts as they occur to us. And they are better faced today or it may be too late tomorrow. We do not consider this an essay in apportioning blame or cynical crystal­ ball gazing.  But the writing is there clear on the walls for anyone who is willing to look there and remove his blind-fold.

 

    Now, if you too are angry along with us, don't do the obvious. Do     you vent your ire on the serial, or its makers, or members of any community? Vent it, if possible, on yourself and all those self­ seekers who by their facile theorizing have only muddled perspectives. And for God's sake, when angry, think. If the serial could have done even an iota of good, it is to make you think for your­self. And do not any longer pawn your brain to anyone, for your own judgment is the only precious commodity left to pride over in this scarcity-ridden country.

 

This is not only the best way to get rid of your anger. It is also the best way to preserve it for future use, for the right reasons. For, preserve it you must.

 

    Thank you, St. Tamas, for favour granted.

 

AJAY AND SHAKUNTALA SINGH

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