Food for Thought
"The truth doesn't need to justify anything, it's the lie that
keeps on continually trying to cleanse itself."
~ Amritbir Kaur
1. Monkey Circus Comes to the Village
Collared on string leads, the charade began: husband sat on a can. Wife complained in monkey tongue. He cupped hands over ears. Her complaints got louder. Sick and tired, he cuffed her. She ran off screaming. He’d done it now. The turbaned trainer passed a banana. Husband offered, wife took, twisted off the squishy neck, ate; then eyeing spouse — gave half back. Peace was restored. Years away from arranged marriages, children whistled and clapped. The white-cheeked macaques walked forward on hind legs. Time to pay. The foreign teacher dropped three grubby rupees into the monkey cup, one for each ex-husband.
2. Interview With a Simian God
The Bollybuzz reporter came for an exclusive interview with baby Hanuman, a chubby six-year-old.
“What do you like about portraying a monkey god?
Doing the flying stunts and fighting evil.
What do school friends say?
They ask about the show. Some call me as Hanuman only.
Do you have a Hanuman doll?
No, but we keep an idol of Hanumanji in our house and pray.
Do you watch the show at home?
No, Sir. I play with my cars and on Play Station.”
The make-up artist painted on the red circle, suggesting a monkey-mouth. Then, the little god left for the shoot.
3. A Monkey’s Tale
The medical delegation came to see the living monkey god. Born with a 33cm ‘tail’, the spina bifida man had become a rare object of devotion. He monkeyed about and gobbled bananas. Believers touched his exposed stump to get healed.
One foreign doctor offered to remove it.
“No!” he said. “It is Lord Hanuman’s blessing.”
Meanwhile, twenty women had rejected him. “I will only marry she who loves my tail, otherwise I will stay bachelor like Hanumanji.”
Next, someone mentioned Spider Devi in Bangalore — the girl-child with 4 arms and 4 legs. The eminent delegation rushed to catch their flight.
4. Monkey Art
At the station, they saw the god on the pavement. He wore a gilt crown, loin cloth, his whole body painted orange-red. Garlanded with marigolds, he also had a yogi’s traditional rudraksha rosary about his neck and upheld a big gada, a shiny mace – his symbolic weapon. That would have been a marvellous feat of strength, had the club not been paper mache. Thus, the divine idol stood unblinkingly, waiting for passersby to drop money in his bowl. Then some cynic walked up and eyeballed him. The mischievous god gave a sudden primate-bark and the unbeliever ran for his life.
5. A Blind Eye
Mahatma Gandhi owned one possession – a statuette of the Three Wise Monkeys, who, together embody the proverbial maxim to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. When India was partitioned in 1947, slicing Punjab like a melon down the middle, M.K Gandhi could not turn a blind eye. Neither could he stop the exodus and mutual slaughter of millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. After the killings, Nathuram Godse, an anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist fired 3 bullets from his Beretta point blank into Gandhi’s chest. “Hey Ram!” uttered the god man dying. Hanuman’s brethren munched fresh contraband in the trees.
6. The US President and the City of Monkeys
When Barak Obama came to Delhi, everyone went on primate-alert. Already the deputy-mayor, attacked on his balcony had fallen to his death. Delhi police risked monkey uprisings, vowing to sacrifice their lives for the nation’s prestige. Monkey-catchers came out in force baiting cages with bananas. Public boulevards were patrolled by Gypsy jeeps; the Black Cat squads had anti-insurgent strategies in place; but the Government’s secret weapon and the macaque’s jungle rival, lanky langur monkeys, unleashed by handlers were set roaming around the President’s walled residence. Meanwhile, special prayers were offered in the temples appealing to Lord Hanuman to keep the peace.
7. Monkey Rule
Despite the lying of the microphone
there will be the noble bellowing of a buffalo,
despite hydro-electric schemes and promises
there will be a cuckoo drinking only raindrops,
despite the hunting season on dissidents
there will be another mongoose on the road,
despite machine guns in the bazaar
there will be a militia of mynah birds,
despite the cost of dignity
there will be a sacred cow to stop the traffic,
despite the lure of the city
the night deer will dance in the wheat field,
despite the rise of fanatics to government
there will always be monkeys to rule the ruins.
The hemlock, bewildered at the transgressive duality, or to be exact – bipolarity of human nature exploits its own attributes. The evergreen, key to tissue erosion , end of a fleshly life as we know of it. Sounds as oxymoronic as it is! But is there a brighter side to it? Can there be a brighter side to death? Can a globally accepted insipid notion metamorphose to anything close to ‘intrepid’? Can our ectoplasm hover its way to a certain pilgrimage? Will the process really set us free? …yes, death can be considered a transcendence to a frenzied state of divine contemplation subverting or mortifying the age old notions regarding death as the terminator.
The profundity of death springs over defying limitations. It is the darkest illumination that surrounds the manifold dimensions and peripheries of life. Death is a threshold that lets u pass on to the other side, a supernatural purgatory endorsing peace. It transports u to the land of divinity and fulfillment girded by the ‘heaven’s rampart’ (that’s how D.G ROSSETTI puts it). Wouldn’t it b nice to glance the Elysian freedom or sense st.peter’s knell?
Life can be an ostentation whereas death purports a sense of realism tainted by reverie. Lord Byron signifies this temperament of unreciprocated realization in the line “Death, so called, is a thing which makes men weep, And yet a third of life is passed in sleep “ Can the venture of the deceased be perceived in the other way round inverting the proverbially accepted reckoning? Well, absolutely in my opinion it can, I have my way with words though . Death will be like cheering your way through a dream where you never wake up, you get to live your dream, now that is something you can never establish while you are still breathing. All you need to do is dream a better dream, die a better death.
Depluming the shroud of fear and accepting death as an inevitable consequence to life is the best way to embrace the truth that follows because “Death is the only pure, beautiful conclusion of a great passion” says D.H Lawrence. Death is only the loss of the enclosure that keeps you bounded. Moulding the aboriginal surmises is the real quest in progress. This piece of work on demise focuses solely on the alternative perception that we can decipher if we put our zeal to it. Death does set you on a brighter but unknown path surprising us in everyway possible. Let us be in awe of this whole new dimension.
The biological vessel is just a slough which we get rid of, when it is time. It’s nothing but a necessary transformation leading to a spiritual probation. Even the hemlock can turn out to be a lucrative sycamore if not approached in a derogative manner. All we need is a twist in perspective and voila!
Finally, a proper illation to death depends on how it invades or pervades our introspective insight that will actually unveil the possibilities of death as a negation or a divine manifestation.
Panwar, Dinesh and Roy, Vijay Kumar. (Ed.) Contemporary Indian Fiction in English: Critical Studies. New Delhi: Alfa Publications, 2013. ISBN: 978-93-82302-98-8. (HB) pp. 173. Price: Rs. 595.
Reviewed by Dr. Tribhuwan Kumar*
The contemporary Indian English Fiction has created its own niche in the twenty first century Indian English Literature. A new generation of novelists including Khushwant Singh, Arun Joshi, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie, Manju Kapur, Amitav Ghosh and Kiran Desai have come into lime light and produced an entirely different note.
Contemporary Indian Fiction in English: Critical Studies, edited byDr. Dinesh Panwar and Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy, is a collection of thirteen well-researched critical papers on the works of contemporary Indian English novelists. The anthology brings contemporary Indian English fictions to attention and acknowledges its relevance. The first paper of the anthology is the critical evaluation of Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan. The novelist writes on sensational issue and the present paper is also the manifestation of the same spirit. It graphically and boldly describes the theme of social, cultural and religious identities, the theme of violence, murders, rapes, bestiality and migration, and the ill-fate of the nation, India, being split into two halves.
The second paper entitled “Dilemma of Existence of a Modern Man in Arun Joshi’s The Last Labyrinth.” The author of the paper analyses the psyche of modern man, his quest for self identity and craving for peace and happy life. The third chapter is the visualisation of social reality in the rural India through the selected novels of Kamala Markandaya. The author gives vivid description of the oriental culture through a number of Markandaya’s representative novels: Some Inner Fury, Nectar in the Sieve, Possession, A Handful of Rice, The Coffer Dams, Two Virgins and The Golden Honeycomb.
The fourth paper carries out the realities beyond the confined self through the critical enunciation of Anita Desai’s In Custody. The author has exploited the various linguistic devices employed to peel of the psychic truth. ‘Psychology is the representation of truth and reality’ becomes the benchmark of the analysis of the paper. T Jeevan Kumar, in his paper “Shashi Deshpande’s Small Remedies: A Critical Study”, brings out in the forefront the agony and suffering, exploitation and suppression of women through the literary work of a great feminist novelist.
The next paper deals with the theme of women emancipation in details through the major works of Manju Kapur. The paper logically illustrates the changing role of women from the dead past where women rely on others for emotional and worldly need to the bright present where she is conditioned to lead and see themselves as victors rather than victims of circumstances. Erosion of personal and social values in Indian society is the major concern at the present time. The author in the seventh paper depicts daringly deteriorating relationships and marital maladies through the major novels of the great diasporic novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.
Amitav Ghosh can be called the major novelist among the contemporary Indian fiction writers both on quantity and quality basis. The anthology comprises three research papers on Ghosh. In the first paper, the author interprets history in The Calcutta Chromosome through Bakhtinian perspective. In the next paper on Ghosh, Antara Saha interprets The Hungry Tide in the light of ecocriticism. The author wonderfully describes how ecological crisis can be portrayed through symbols. The next paper deals with linguistic and stylistic features in the Sea of Poppies.
In the eleventh paper, authors make a comparative study on the importance of relationships in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Shobha De’s S’s Secret. There are two papers on Kiran Desai. In the first paper, author deals with the theme of transformation of evolution through the protagonist Sampath in Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. The last paper of the anthology takes into account the themes of inferiority complex and Indian’s undying passion for the west through the well known novel The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.
Contemporary Indian English Fiction has become, in recent years, one of the most dynamic areas of literary pursuit in India. The main strength of book can be summed up as ‘universality in diversity’. This anthology presents a fascinating range of critical papers on Indian English fiction. The diversity of approaches taken in this anthology and the wide range of topics and analytical approaches have astonishing advantages to the researchers. The editors have tried to include almost all the contemporary fiction writers in Indian English Fiction, which help to understand this genre with full capacity. Overall, this anthology enriched with the prevailing trends in the contemporary Indian English Fiction and brought out by Dr. Dinesh Panwar and Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy is very useful for teachers and researchers interested in exploring Indian English Fiction in depth and detail.
*Assistant Professor of English
SRM University, NCR Campus
Modinagar, Ghaziabad, UP.