Poems By Mandakranta Sen


 Mandakranta Sen is young Bengali poet, who received Sahitya Akademi young writers award few years ago. I had not read her poetry, partly due to not knowing Bengali. She is only writer from Bengal who returned her award and with rightful indignation. She is active participant in Bengal’s democratic movements in solidarity with workers and peasants. She was kind enough to share her fifteen Bengali poems in English translation with me and I am sharing these here with her permission. Her collection of poetry in English translation is also likely to come in few months. I am not connoisseur of literature, much less of poetry, despite translating Pash and Patar’s poetry in Hindi from my mother tongue Punjabi, still I can say that these poems have touched me. She has assertion as well as sensitivity of humanity in her poems and a strong women’s voice also. We came to know each other as we became co-returnee of Sahitya Akademi awards with other writers. But I have been enriched by her poetry and could not resist to share it on my blog to further share with blog readers. Hope you will also like it.

 Mandakranta Sen00004--doyouknowpng-Mandakrantamandakranta-655x360









Not even a grain of salt, you only have your wish

Cook with your tears, girl, tear is also saltish

Make a full course of menu, a full course of suffering

Sour dream, sweet envy, oh please don’t miss a thing!

Keep it to the east, to the south some lemon to taste

Keep wind to the north, a sleeping oven to the west

Now the ritual is done, shut all the doors and pray

The time has come, girl, today is the ultimate day —

Don’t let him run away from these offerings you’ve made

Onto the dish of God, girl, serve your own bloody head.



















Wind is blowing

Wind was blowing.


With that wind, the pyre glowed brighter

Everything that could be burnt, was burnt.


Gradually, the fire quenched, so also the wailing.

Having eaten up the ashes, the river wiped its face and lay down.


Strangely, even then, pervading the whole universe,

Wind was blowing …


A stupid, deaf and dumb, blind, motherless wind …























She has opened a window in between her brows, and then

Sparkled her sharp forehead, sculpted out of stone

Darkness and light slip down the steep day and night


From her arrogant lap, she puts down with all her might

The newborn demolition-day — the crippled hate-child of her own

Clusters of blood … flesh … and brain …



Her altar is blatant and bare

Inside the palms folded together, froths up a lust

Rage becomes pure touching the wine … things change …


Ever since her birth she hid in her loin all the deepest revenge

Placenta, a red hibiscus with stalk, is severed by the midnight’s thrust

And the lethal mantra … hitting … and hitting right there



These are her favourites: young men’s handsome skulls, chalky white

One part sex with one part affection mixed in an earthy goblet

A fierce lamp’s reflections, broken and all over the place …


Right from her girlhood, — curious, thoroughly shameless —

She’s known love as an intelligent doubt till date

Creation-Existence-End is nothing but masturbation. Quite.



Yes, they give her a high:

A breast that’s dextral, a navel that blossoms day by day

A vagina whose petals are arranged like that of clitoria — dark blue


A finger more shapely than a penis — which also gives a clue

By piercing the eye — about how to move the lamp to pray

… And eye means — yes, the third eye …





She has to cook and eat her own flesh, otherwise she too starves

On a dark moon’s tongue, frozen moonlight still shines

So do the marks of reckless bites and bruises


Right below the crematory, when the last piece of firewood chooses

To burn out after an ultimate jump, inside the vault of the shrine

With her teeth she chews her soul —which, with her nails she carves.

























Keeping awake on the mountains’ chest

Is the old abode of the clouds


Sky stoops over to read his own text

Like an author — content … and … proud


They, who are awake on the mountains today,

Will they fall asleep tomorrow?


‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ — they say

But the sky will be as blue as sorrow

























Ever since that afternoon,

Even the pale moon looked to be lost in a trance


She— who had stopped menstruating

From the eighth day of previous dark fortnight


At the corner of her mouth, traces of drug,

Or poison, still can be found



What made her think that inside her bloodstream

Still she could take such a chance


With a faint retching sound, the entire roof was

Flooded with vomit, moonlight


Warm milk filled her ancient breasts that

Aren’t anymore that round



















She who writes poetry in the middle of the night

With her hair undone — is a witch


After everyone‘s asleep, she soaks in the clear moonlight

On a netherworld’s roof — don’t know which!


Secretly she roasts, then eats, the pulpy sadness

Plucked from the crown of her head


Climbs up her throat — no, not any lyric of love and caress

Rather, an acidic belch-like moon instead


As soon as it dawns, she conceives the sun

Getting to the full-blown advanced stage by noon


Bathing with her young dad, she beats up the water in fun

— A young woman, struck by the moon.


















From the west to the east, inside my head

The moon floats … the moon sinks … dead …


Putrefied moonlight sticks to its frame

Even today. But the moon is not to blame —


It’s me who have chopped it to death in my brain

Insanity splashed, and my skull got stained …





























Scattered household. A crude smell hangs in the air.

I know what you think … I think that too —

Something is burning in there.


Though I’m reluctant to find out what really burnt.

I’m not looking for the thing you call cure —

That’s the best disease I’ve earned.


Carrying the signs of that ailment all over my frame

I’m wandering through the alleys. At the windows up there

People are dying with shame.


They’re asking me : Don’t you remember what you’ve lost ?

I’ve lost bits of straw. Meagre fuel. Yet

Fire still smolders beneath the frost.


Thus you get the smell. And you query about what burns where

One by one you gather to have fun

At the busy crossings … and crowded squares.


Now she must’ve learnt her lessons, they say to each other and boo

Over there the fire, treating friends and foes alike —

Burns down your house too !


It burns and burns. Then breaks down to ashes. Well, let it be.

To set fire to Nero’s palace … just a bit later

You too will come and join me.








Don’t want to call. Still … please wait a bit.

Worship hall to your right, to the left is a red-light street.


Which one do you desire ? Think man, think real hard —

Here are the two worlds smeared with menstrual blood.


Don’t want to leave you. But that’s the inevitable course.

Alter of Goddess to the right, to the left a colony of whores.


Where do you desire to go ? Think man, think, and tell me

Where would you find your blood-smeared happiness’s key ?


Don’t wanna tell you. Yet for truth’s sake just let me tell

You’ve heaven on your right, on your left,well, you’ve got hell


You think you can manage both the sides ? Very smart !


I am your Goddess, man, believe me, I am your tart.


















I met him again


I knew it would happen one day or other


Not looking at him, I kept my face smiling

Not looking at me, he kept his face annoyed


Maybe he remembered nothing



There is no sin as big as remembrance



























In between your and my love

There grew a civilization of dumbs


So delicate to touch


It can be shattered into ruins

If we only sigh together …





























O please bring down the ghost

From my head

As I say this, simultaneously

I put my head itself onto your feet


And sitting near you, I see,

Like home-made Dahi

Like tasty pickled Khichri


With much satisfaction

You are eating my


Fermented brain






















I can give up wearing jeans

If you say so, by all means

I will easily be another woman

The girl who loves you, she can

Never be with unoiled short hair

(you told someone somewhere)

Well, I will be unknown to me

From tomorrow, if you be

With myself, at your feet

I will undress and spread out my blue  Dhanekhali —take it

I will blow in the wind all my manly quirk

I believe it will work

If I can become a stream


Boy, do you know how to swim ?…





















Without sleep all night, yesterday she became blue

Today, she took off her head and placed it on the pillow

Getting the slightest sleep’s clue


The rest of her body

roams around the rooms, cornice, rooftop, here and there

And her head weeps seeing a horrible nightmare


It sees, some persons, are carefully trying to fix

Her head with her trunk with love and venom mixed


At the end her body and head become glued


Nowadays, her head as well

doesn’t get a little sleep’s clue …
























So many times we have been devastated

See, yet we have not got used to it

Still it is so painful, how we suffer every time

From every ruin, see, from the death

We are returning to our time of birth

Returning with much labour, crawling


So many times, so many times we die

See, yet we do not believe in death

In the war-field, we grope for faces, fallen faces

O faces of my parents, faces of my children, come on, wake up

The war is over. Before the next one

We will make homes again

Will fall in love once more—

Burying weapon, will grow corps

In the fields up to horizon


So many times we`ve been burnt down, drifted away

Still we do not believe in ruin

We never forgot after all the destructions


How the civilization goes on

How mankind wins …




My response to Bihar election results


Heartiest congratulations to the people of Bihar for once again proving its democratic credentials and not getting swayed by false and deceptive Hindutva-Moditva trap. Significance of Bihar results is more than Delhi election results. Bihar is one of more politically aware state and much bigger in size. 1974 JP movement, of which Lalu-Nitish are product, changed the course of Indian political discourse. In a way Bihar results are more like 1977 post emergency Loksabha election results. This time overall conditions of country are no less than emergency conditions minus press censorship. Hindutva bullying has been much worse than emergency period gundagardi of Sanjay Gandhi goons. Just for returning awards, a most decent protest by writers/scientists/film world people was made out to be an act of ‘anti nationalism’! We have been abused like anything by RSS-Hindutva trolls on social media. No consideration has been shown to 87 year old PM Bhargava, Padam Bhushan award returnee, 88 year old Nayantara Sehgal, she was subjected to abuses more for being niece of Pandit Nehru than for being a writer, 90 year old Krishna Sobti. Like in Hitler’s Germany of 1933, Hindutva trolls ran ‘Book burning’ campaign of award returnees. We were taunted to be thrown away to ‘Pakistan’, an enemy country for Hindutva trolls, not for people of India, we were also told to go to Hafeez Saeed in Pakistan. What does that meant, to be killed by Pakistan armed forces, or to be killed by Pakistani Bhindrawale Hafeez, as was revolutionary Punjabi poet Pash was killed by Bhindrawale men in India! South Asia is not like Germany in Europe, from where writers could migrate. Here there is no scope of migrating to any other country. The people of Bihar have resoundingly and loudly have ‘made the deaf hear’, as Bhagat Singh had done to the Britishers in 1929! Left front has not done well,but even three seats won by CPI(ML), as part of left front, finds no mention in media, while one seat of HAM, 2-2 seats of Paswan LJP or RSLP do find mention. Congratulations to left front also for marking at least presence in worse of conditions of marginalization of the left! Although left has marginally improved this time,but their loss is substantial. At one time CPI and later CPI-ML used to be impressive force in Bihar assembly and in Parliament elected from Bihar. This time even six party left alliance could not impact the elections much. As CPI-ML has some base intact, so they could score three seats. There is need to build a stronger left movement in Bihar, which can help in reviving left movement in North India. At one time Punjab also used to be stronger base of left in assembly, now completely marginalized. 

Some stray comments on face book-

Not sure about Pakistan, but earlier The Hindu state and now a secular state-Nepal must have celebrated early Diwali yesterday and may be continuing bursting crackers at the massive fall of its tormentor-Hindutva-Moditva!

Modi did prove right at least in one thing-Bihar will celebrate two Diwalis this year- on 8th and on 11/12th! But he gave this chance to not only Bihar,rather to whole of India…..!

Some links to good analysis-





Two letters by 41 writers on award return issue-issued on 1st November 2015


Shri Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari,

President, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi

Dear Mr Tiwari,

We have learnt from media reports that a resolution was passed by the Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademi on October 23, 2015 to condemn the shocking murder of Professor M.M. Kalburgi, and to support the right to freedom of speech of every writer in India. This is an urgent matter at this moment of spiralling hatred and intolerance.

The statement could have come earlier; but now that it has come, we urge you to build on this resolution to rethink how the Akademi can truly support its constituency of all writers in India and, by extension, the people of the country. As writers, we strongly feel that the Akademi can play a real and positive role by being independent and autonomous; and by responding to the situations in a strong, humane and robust manner.

We have read in media reports that the Akademi appeals to us to “take back” our awards and/ or our positions in the Akademi. Whatever each writer decides, may we jointly appeal, in turn, that the Akademi reinvent itself to connect with the India we writers, our readers, and our fellow citizens live in?

Yours sincerely,

  1. Adil Jussawalla
  2. Ajmer Aulakh
  3. Ananya Guha
  4. Anil Joshi
  5. Arup Kumar Dutta
  6. Ashok Vajpeyi
  7. Atamjit Singh
  8. Baldev Sadaknama
  9. Bina Sarkar Ellias
  10. Chaman Lal
  11. Damodar Mauzo
  12. Darshan Buttar
  13. Datta Naik
  14. Easterine Kire
  15. Ganesh Devy
  16. Githa Hariharan
  17. Gurbachan Singh Bhullar
  18. Jaswinder
  19. K. Satchidanandan
  20. Keki Daruwalla
  21. Krishna Sobti
  22. Kum Veerabhadrappa
  23. Mandakranta Sen
  24. Mangalesh Dabral
  25. Manmohan
  26. Mitra Phukan
  27. Mohan Bhandari
  28. Nayantara Sahgal
  29. Pargat Singh Satauj
  30. Patricia Mukhim
  31. Pradnya Pawar
  32. Rahman Abbas
  33. Rajesh Joshi
  34. Sara Joseph
  35. Shashi Deshpande
  36. Shubha
  37. Surjit Patar
  38. Uday Prakash
  39. Waryam Sandhu
  40. Xonzoi Barbora

Open letter from writers

Through this open letter, we address everyone, from the President of India to the child who has just learnt to read and discover the world around her.

Many of us writers have spoken up, in one way or the other, whenever our country has been at a point of crisis. But in recent times, we have seen an assault on certain facets of our day-to-day living, from attacks on the scientific temper to physical and often fatal attacks on citizens.

In response, over the last few weeks, several writers returned awards and resigned from their positions in the Sahitya Akademi; or issued statements of protest about the encouragement to intolerance which will have an adverse effect on our polity as well as on the relationship between castes and communities. Our concerns involve more than any one institution such as the Sahitya Akademi. The all-pervasive concern is with safeguarding the constitutional rights of each and every citizen to live as she chooses. This, we see, is being violated every day with old divisions such as caste becoming deeper and more violent; with new divisions being created to shrink the space for discussion and debate; with educational, cultural and other institutions being weakened further by censorship and fear of debate; and worst of all, the idea of India – the idea our freedom fighters envisioned – being distorted into a homogenous India, with its diversity torn apart.

We will continue to express our concerns in as many ways as we can, and in as many voices as possible. We appeal to all citizens of conscience to join us and keep our idea of a plural, tolerant, diverse and argumentative India alive.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Adil Jussawalla
  2. Ajmer Aulakh
  3. Ananya Guha
  4. Anil Joshi
  5. Arup Kumar Dutta
  6. Ashok Vajpeyi
  7. Atamjit Singh
  8. Baldev Sadaknama
  9. Bina Sarkar Ellias
  10. Chaman Lal
  11. Dalip Kaur Tiwana
  12. Damodar Mauzo
  13. Darshan Buttar
  14. Datta Naik
  15. Easterine Kire
  16. Ganesh Devy
  17. Githa Hariharan
  18. Gurbachan Singh Bhullar
  19. Jaswinder
  20. K. Satchidanandan
  21. Keki Daruwalla
  22. Krishna Sobti
  23. Kum Veerabhadrappa
  24. Mandakranta Sen
  25. Mangalesh Dabral
  26. Manmohan
  27. Mitra Phukan
  28. Mohan Bhandari
  29. Nayantara Sahgal
  30. Pargat Singh Satauj
  31. Patricia Mukhim
  32. Pradnya Pawar
  33. Rahman Abbas
  34. Rajesh Joshi
  35. Sara Joseph
  36. Shashi Deshpande
  37. Subha
  38. Surjit Patar
  39. Uday Prakash
  40. Waryam Sandhu
  41. Xonzoi Barbora

Links to articles on Writers/Academicians/Scientists/Artists Protest









































































































Translation Prize return letter to Sahitya Akademi


Dear Dr. Vishwanath Tewari,

  With a sense of anguish, I have sent my covering letter along with a cheque for 15000/ rupees, which I received from Sahitya Akademi in year 2002 as part of National Translation Prize for year 2001, on a book-‘Samay O; Bhai Samay’- collection of poems of Punjabi poet Pash. Why I have to do it, I wish to explain here-

  1. Udai Prakash, Hindi writer took lead in the matter of Sahtya Akademi not holding customary condolence meeting in Delhi office on the murder/death of Prof. M M Kalburgi, Kannada language Sahitaya Akademi award winner and a former Vice Chancellor. Sahitya Akademi kept mum over it and in protest Udai Prakash returned the award given to him by Sahitya Akademi. Innumerable writers, including many Sahitya Akademi award winners appreciated Udai Prakash’s stand and expressed solidarity with his step, myself as well.
  2. Writers were expecting some sensitivity on the issue from Sahitya Akademi, however Akademi kept a stony silence over the issue, which resulted in some more writers taking step of returning Sahitya Akademi award in protest, notably Ashok Vajpayee. Even then Akademi did not respond to writers concerns and then came the decision of Nayantara Sehgal to return the award, who referred not only to the concerns of writers, she referred to even the overall attack on Nehruvian concepts of scientific temper, liberal thought and particularly the growing menace of communal violence in which an innocent person was brutally killed in mob fury with a false rumour technic. Nayantara Sehgal is the niece of founder Chairman of Sahitya Akademi and first Prime Minister of the country Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Rather than paying attention to 88 year old author, Sahitya Akademi President ridiculed her in most undignified manner and trolls of ruling party with patronisation from communal hatred groups attacked her viciously. And Nayantara Sehgal responded with a writer’s dignity by paying back rather than 25000/ rupees award money, she returned one lakh rupees to Akademi to cover for any royalties, if any, paid to her from her award winning novel’s translations in other languages than English. Krishan Sobti, one of most celebrated Hindi writer, holder of not only Sahitya Akademi award, but also highest honour of ‘Fellowship’ of Akademi, returned both to protest against such undignified behaviour of Akademi, at the age of 90 years, still no sense of shame or penance on behalf of Akademi!
  3. Then came the decision of one of most eminent Punjabi fiction writer Gurbachan Singh Bhullar, which troubled my conscience even more, as looking at the daily events, I was feeling that now issue has not remained confined to just Akademi’s insensitive behaviour, there is wider Government patronisation to Akademi’s such conduct, as has been happening in the case of Film Institute of Pune’s case, where despite widest possible protest by most eminent film personalities, central government has shown utter contempt for them, and writers saw the same pattern in Sahitya Akademi’s conduct. The recent case of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library has also been fresh in the minds of writers/intelligentsia, where government has tried to destroy one of the most respected institution and Nehru’s legacy of historicism and scientific knowledge. All these issues, as earlier destructions of organisations like National Book Trust (NBT), Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) made Sahitya Akademi return of awards as symbols of protest against oppression of knowledge and freedom of ideas. It is true that Sahitya Akademi awards are not related to express such broad protest against overall stifling of society and diversity of Indian cultures. Return of Padma awards would have been more appropriate on behalf of writers/scholars to register their protest for that. And Punjabi writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana has done exactly that today. Those who tell writers that rather than returning awards in such large numbers, they should have registered their protests by other means. For such opinions, one sees the reality of protests against Film Institute appointment or other issues, where scholars/writers have protested through statements, petitions, dharnas etc., nothing has worked, so the return of Sahitya Akademi awards has now become symbol of wider protest against increasing communalism, intolerance, saffornisation of institutions, suppression of rational ideas and scientific temper. It is not just protest of writers, this has turned protest against suppressed voice of all cultural fields and scholarly rational ideas. The case of Perumal Murugan, the Tamil writer also comes to mind, whose creative voice was killed by hatred led forces, yet Sahitya Akademi did not utter a word in support of the author. Even if he was not an awardee of the Akademi, he was and is an eminent Tamil author, whose suppression of voice in form of his withdrawing from writing in protest should have been the concern of Sahitya Akademi, a body of writers and literatures
  4. So many Punjabi writers followed Gurbachan Bhullar’s lead, it made me even more troubled, as I was thinking that my Sahitya Akademi Prize is too little in reference to award returnees and it may just look like an act of bravado and publicity. When Waryam Sandhu, Ajmer Aulakh, Surjit Patar and more returned their awards, I could not remain aloof from them. Pash, Patar, Waryam Sandhu and I have been part of a progressive humanist values movement in literature from seventies, which always protested against any social or state repression through writings. I, as Hindi translator of Pash, could not keep Pash’s poetry-a burning symbol of protest separated from Waryam Sandhu or Surjit Patar’s writings even in reference to return of award money. By returning this prize amount and honour I am upholding the spirit of Pash’s poetry and his and mine solidarity with the writers of same times and movements.
  5. This is moment of crisis and choices have to be made clearly-with whom I stand and I stand with my fellow writers of Punjabi as well as other languages, who have taken side of suffering humanity and spoken against the patronisation of communal hatred, attack on institutions of knowledge, attack on freedom of ideas and their expression fearlessly. I will be guilty to the spirit of Pash’s poetry, if I don’t honour the spirit of his poetry, which I have translated and it is Pash, whose poetry was honoured in translation, and I have to remain true to his spirit of poetry even in matter of translation prize. So to remain true to the spirit of Pash’s liberating humanist poetry, I join with my fellow writers in returning this prize money and honour given to me by Sahitya Akademi in the form of National Translation Prize in year 2002, for the year of 2001.

                                                I hope my cheque sent by speed post today, shall reach you in a day or two. I surely feel unburdened after sending it today as many other writers have also felt. It is an irony that Sahitya Akademi, a great institution is taking such shape, where returning an award has become more respectable and honoured act than receiving an award! This situation is also a reply to the taunt of culture minister as well as Akademi President, who had tried to belittle the writer status of Nayantara Sehgal by saying that ‘she has got fame and money from Akademi Award’! It is not the writers, it is Akademi who is now reduced to indignity and it has to do a lot to repair the damage it has done to itself by not siding with the authors and playing to the tunes of an oppressive government.

With regards to editor of Hindi journal ‘Dastavez’, brought out by Dr. Vishwanath Tewari from Gorakhpur long ago!

Chaman Lal

(Retired Professor, JNU, New Delhi)

2690, Urban Estate, Phase-2, Patiala (Punjab)-147002

Prof.chaman@gmail.com, 09646494538

Why Writers are returning Awards?






Writers undoubtedly feel happy at receiving awards from credible literary organisations like Gyanpeeth, Sahitya Akademi, state awards etc., not for money, which also may be of some consideration to some writers, but more for the honor and recognition of their literary worth. Sahitya Akademi​ awards did carry respectability of this kind. But when present Sahtya Akademi chief tells Nayantara Sehgal and by proxy to all award returnees, that Akademi award has given them fame and money in form of royalties, how would she return that? This shows his arrogance and pitiability also. Fame and money, if some writers in India can really earn from writing, are mutual kind of thing. Some writer’s respect and fame is more than the award giving institutions-Would Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorki, Lu Xun or Ngugie Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o​ will be considered lesser writers in absence of Nobel prize not given to them? Giving an award to a certain writer gives award giving institution a better name and respect. Nayantara Sahgal or Krishna Sobti like writers are not among those whose writing got more money or fame because of Sahitya Akademi award, rather Sahitya Akademi got more respect for awarding them.
Since writers yearn for recognition and respect from society by getting award or in some conditions renouncing it, in crucial times of a society, which presently Indian society is faced with. It is return of award rather than receiving, has become more honorable today, to protest against increasing intolerance, communal hatred and violent interference in people’s personal lives in terms of eating or cloth wearing habits or their mutual relationships among themselves(To separate young Hindu and Muslim friends/couples violently in the name of ‘Love Jihad’ like fake or in words of Arun Jaitley-‘manufactured’ terms/tendencies), murders or violent attacks on people holding certain rational ideas, with state becoming indifferent and/or becoming complicit overtly or covertly. To keep mum in such alarming socially oppressive conditions, precursor to real mass fascist practices will be shying away from the duty of a socially aware/concerned individual, which a writer is, as a Public Intellectual also is. To return award with an expressed anguish in the form of a statement is like playing a role in waking up a society from slumber or freeing it from certain illusions, in which it has been trapped into. To give a wake up call is the primary duty of a writer, which he/she d perform through his/her writings and giving up award is tolling the bells for waking up people, who are faced with fire in their neighborhood, which their writings can not do in such emergent situations! Every renunciation of award from writers every day is like making the sound of bell more loud—Jago sone walo…..suno meri pukar—Wake up O’ asleep Ones—listen to bells of fire around and save yourself and society from it-that is the only meaning and ‘politics’, if any of the writers award return. What is ‘politics’ for those, who triggered this fire of hatred, is the human duty of humanist writers in form of return of awards. If this is crime, then let it be!

Remembering Pash on birth anniversary-Pash@65




    While 27-10-09 032

Beech ka Rasta Nahin Hota release-Triveni-Delhi-25-3-89 Paash book release audience-Delhi-25-3-89 Pash article-Pashyanti-Jan.-March 1994 (1)s

Sharing an old post,which gives a glimpse of how Pash became a literary icon in years to come after his assassination in 1988,initially some role was played by me also in organizing these functions at Jalandhar in 1989,1993,2000&2002,in which greatest personalities like Baba Nagarjun, Sujan Singh and Bhagat Singh Comrade Jaidev Kapoor and many Indian illustrious writers participated.But irony is that our leftist political holders of Pash Trust now dont extend even an invitation to me to attend its annual function,as happened this year,when after long gap of many years Pash trust was able to gather large audience by inviting Arundhati Roy,who might have read Pash poetry in my translation,yet the man who did his best to bring Pash on international literary map,was not even invited for the function!

When Pash was martyred by Khalistani terrorists on 23rd March 1988 at his village Talwandi Salem, family was in no position to take care of his literary treasure, which was in his Chaubarha-upper floor room of his home at village. Many people started visiting his house, mostly leftist activists and few of them lifted the writings of Pash from his chaubarah, may be telling family members, but making no itinerary of the poems/writings/published documents lifted from there, it was a kind of irresponsible grabbing of assassinated poet’s  literary treasure. Some of the poems appeared in some volumes later with somebody’s name appearing as editor. Honest conduct would had been to keep all the things in Pash’s house, listing and handing over family to take care till some arrangement could be made by his comrades/friends. Later perhaps same year Pash memorial International Trust came into existence with initial five members-Gursharn Bhaji, Mohinder Singh Jathebandi from India, Avtar from UK, Harsharn Singh Dhido(Pash’brother in law) and Surinder Dhanjal from Canada. Surinder Dhanjal was assigned the duty of convener of trust. The whole literary treasure of Pash should have been transferred to Pash trust, which could have published it in a befitting manner. Pash trust in early years focused on organizing two Pash memorial functions-Birth anniversary-9th September as ‘Kavita Divas’, suggested by Amarjit Chandan and adopted as such by trust. 23rd March-martyrdom day was arranged at village Talwandi Salem, I attended one function there. Now no one calls 9th September as Kavita Divas or Poetry Day!  The first ever function on 9th September  1989 was organised by me on behalf of trust at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Jalandhar, which was a grand success. After few years five thousand rupees Pash memorial award was started and some good Punjabi writers got this award like Santoskh Singh Dhir, Surjit Patar etc. Some awards got controversial, then award scheme was discontinued.

Few early years after Pash’s assassination were like explosion of writings on Pash. Gianranjan brought out Pehl special Pash issue in 1988 itself in Hindi from Jabalpur, to which I contributed a lot.My translation of Pash poetry in Hindi was published by Rajkamal prakashan and released on 25th March 1989 at Delhi by Com Satyapal Dang, in which many eminent Hindi writers participated. Amarjit Chandan came out with Pash poems collection ‘Khilre Hoe Varke’. This momentum continued for many years as in 1993 and 2000 major Indian writers came over to Jalandhar to pay tributes to Pash on birth anniversary functions. However after 2000 things changed. Pash Trust itself was facing controversies. Mohinder Singh Sandhu Jathebandi had passed away. There was concerted effort to control Pash trust by certain individuals and a political group, with whom Pash sympathized, but remained critical of overall conduct of Comrades like in his long poem-Comarade naal galbaat-Conversations with Comrades. Those who had sincerely worked to preserve and promote Pash’s poetry and ideas, were never recognized or respected like Bharat Bhushan. On the contrary certain people pushed their names with the work done solely by Pash’s father Sohan Singh Sandhu, by forcing themselves as joint editors with Sandhu Sahib. After passing away of Gursharn Bhaji, now Pash trust has been made multi member with none of Pash’s old friends or comrade associated with it. Many of trust members have written nothing or little on Pash, some have just pushed their names to work done by Pash’s father. In this situation, inviting Arundhati Roy was an attempt to restore or save the falling reputation of Pash Trust. Audience was expected to come to listen Arundhati Roy, but how much Pash poetry/writings or ideas are promoted by trust, only time will tell. Meanwhile I remember Pash fondly and cherish my association with Pash family.

‘Virtual’ Vs./and Real World!




Life these days has become too complex. Twenty first century has really changed the life styles of people, at least of educated urban middle class radically. Unimaginable things have happened, what even Rahul Sankartytyan did not imagine in 22nd Century-Baisvin Sadi, have come in advance in 21st century, just in first fifteen years. Though the seeds of change were getting matured in last decade of twentieth century.

First major change came with mobile phones. Although mobiles came up in last decade of last century, these became a necessity in 21st century. I avoided to have mobile till 2002, some of my friends avoided even till recently, a few still avoid it. Computer or internet was the other major impact on life. In last two decades of 20th century, Television was the major impact on social life. In India, when colour television came in 1982 in India, and then came a number of serials, which made people remain glued to television sets, that was the time of change in life styles!  It has affected the reading habits of people, which was considerably reduced in favour of television serials/programms. People’s socialising habits were not affected in first phase of TV expansion, as number of television sets was not high, rather it increased socialising for a while as it was community or Mohalla watching of television in few houses, which had television sets. It was particularly true about serials like Hum Log, Ramayna and Mahabharta.

Mobile phones affected life in different way, connectivity with friends-relatives-acquaintances became fast, and it affected normal postal channels of writing letters to each other. Mobile and internet connectivity expanded almost simultaneously in first decade of 21st century. I did not had any computer or email id till 2004 and it took long time to get used to email communication. Internet connectivity first exposed to websites and initially people were creating their websites with payments. Later development of blogs decreased dependence on paid websites and people created their blogs in huge numbers. Wikipedia was another internet discovery which was used by people in millions to create pages. Internet expansion or IT growth was phenomenal in years to come and social sites phenomenon started with Orkut in early years of 21st century and went up to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn like more popular sites, though number of these sites is too high, yet Facebook has covered one out of seven persons on this earth! This was almost a revolution in inter-people connectivity at universal level and people found long lost friends and contacts through Facebook. Along sides social and knowledge sites, the biggest expansion was of porn sites during all these times, perhaps having more viewers than other sites world over. Mail connectivity outlived its usage in shorter time giving way to mobile sms and now to WhatsApp. Email connectivity now seems archaical  and postal service remains confined to magazines, official letters etc. Telegraph service has already become a thing of the past.

This information technology explosion has shaken so called moral value systems world over and it has particularly hit feudal values of so called ‘purity’ in man-woman or sexual relationships. Sites like Ashley Madison have exposed middle class hypocrisy of fidelity in marital relations and open invitation to ‘cheating’ in marital relations with extra-marital affairs, which include thousands of accounts from India. On social sites like Facebook where men and women freely interact with each other, it has given women more freedom to express herself and assert her identity. Facebook like sites have contributed to democratisation between man woman relations, which had feudal control in Asian and Arab countries particularly. Facebook friendships may have certain cheating instances also, leading even to rapes and murders, but these are exceptions and because of some carelessness. Largely it has opened the window for both men and women to interact freely. Although virtual world ‘friendship’ is very slippery and fluid, yet it has brought men and women closer to each other without the formal bonding of couples, brother-sister, father-daughter or other relational bindings. It has expanded the scope of human relationships to newer paths and helped them get out of social or self-suppression. If one could make study of Facebook account holders inbox communication study, which is little difficult to do, because of privacy setting of people, one would have startling results to see. The whole edifice of single man-single woman relationship will look like a hollow house, where as men and women from unknown territories falling into deep friendships, even love or at least good human communicators will look like a reality, may be just at ‘virtual’ level, but line between ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ looks thin, even when people without any chance of meeting each other in real life exchange such warm feelings, concerns and solidarity that it may give them great solace.

In earlier times, people used to dream and in many people’s lives those beautiful dreams became a life sustaining support, even when none of the dream got actualised in life. In earlier times, letter writing to far away people in different countries was another way of warm human sharing of feelings and ideas, which in many cases never brought a chance for them to actually meet in life. Their mutual letters gave them great consolation, satisfaction and inspiration in their lives, which looked bit better than without those warm exchanges. What social media of 21st century has done, it has reduced the distance of world and made people close to each other at far ends. Sitting in different countries, even when not meeting physically people interact with each other on Skype, almost seeing and speaking the closest possible life of each other, except just touching. Virtual world of today is like dream world of the past. What one dreamt in past, is possible for them now in virtual world, yet something is away from real world.

I have made many friends in virtual world, some of them even met later in real world at USA, Venezuela, UK, and they proved as true, warm and real as they looked in ‘Virtual’ world of Facebook. Many more in other countries are having such interactions that one looks for occasions to meet them in one’s own country or their country or anywhere else in world!  Virtual world interactions make people realise their potentials, temperaments and desire to make friendships, which was very limited before the advent of ‘Virtual’ world! But perhaps like living in dream world was taking people away from harsh reality around, so is perhaps indulging too much in ‘Virtual’ world also make people asocial. A family in present world interacts with each other from their rooms in single house on laptops/mobiles, rather than getting together in common room of family or even at dining table. At even dining tables, people are found fiddling with mobiles most of time, rather than talking/conversing to each other. Like earlier Coffee House revolutionaries, new terms like Facebook revolutionaries have also got evolved, as people share the most radical thoughts but all the time sitting at Facebook, and not joining any protest march physically on street! So new technologies make world easy but very complex, people from whole world are brought at one’s door, yet people at door goes far away from each other, drowning themselves in mobile screens. They like photographs of their loved ones on screen, rather than spending time with their real physical entities! Not strange that even people’s interest in real sex life has given way to indulging in ‘Virtual’ world in beds! Aldous Huxely wrote ‘Brave New World’ and Rahul Samkartyayan Baisivin Sadi-these are now present in ‘Virtual’ world of today!

Lecture on Four Decades after Emergency at Bathinda-31st July



31st July is Shaheed Udham Singh’s martyrdom day and Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab (AFDR-Punjab) decided to hold lecture on ‘Four Decades after Emergency’ to mark the day. Idea was to focus upon the dangers of recent times, which remind people of Emergency days of 1975-77. I had long association with AFDR-Jamhoori Adhikar Sabha in Punjab since its inception in 1979, when I joined its founding conference at PAU Ludhiana in 1979, where I came as part of People’s Union for Democratic Rights(PUDR), Delhi delegate along with Subba Rao, Sudesh Vaid, both no more alive now. Dr. Dharamvira Dv Gandhi was elected founder General Secretary of AFDR at that time. Later on my association continued and I attended many of its meeting at Andhra Pradesh and Bombay to form an all India organisation of Democratic Rights Organisation(AIFODRO), which continued for few years. OPDR(Andhra Pradesh), Lokshahi Hakk Sanghtna(LHS), Bombay, and an Odisa democratic rights organisation were other units of this all India organisation. After I joined Punjabi University as faculty member in 1985, I was elected to its district and state executive for one term. I had joined all India team for fact finding team during terrorism days in Punjab of AIFOFDR) also. However in 1989 or so, differences cropped up with state leadership and I withdrew from organisation. AFDR brought out a highly controversial report on Punjabi University Patiala incidents in 2002 and it refused to publish my rejoinder to that report, so much for its ‘democratic’ conduct of itself! So when AFDR Bathinda President Bagga Singh extended an invitation to deliver a lecture on this occasion, I was little surprised. He is Vice President of state unit of AFDR also. I checked up with him that does he know that past bitter exchanges of me with AFDR. He assured that Bathinda unit of AFDR has taken this decision after full deliberations to invite me only for this function. One reason being that I had spent seven months in Bathinda prison during emergency and there are few among all leadership of AFDR, who had seen the inside of jails. So I went to deliver the lecture and spoke for about one hour 20 minutes, later lively discussion also took place on issues raised by me-of saffronization of education, of land acquisition bill, of police atrocities, of judicial arbitrariness in decisions etc. Other participants included Pro. Aminder Singh, Principal Bagga Singh, Randhir Gillpatti, Sudeep Singh and Shirin and many more through their queries and comments. I was presented with memento by AFDR Bathinda with Shaheed Udham Singh profile on it. Next day’s report in Punjabi Tribune focused mainly on Yakub Menon’s execution, undermining all other major issues, which was little upsetting for me. Not much media reports came up of the function, perhaps some among AFDR leadership, who may not be happy at invitation to me for delivering the lecture, saw to it that the event is suppressed in the media at least!