Monday, September 20, 2010

Revolutions that are still unpaid for: On reading 1984 and Kaifi Aazmi, together.

"One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."

Sept. 19, 2010, sometime near the clock reached 1pm

A reader, reading a text is a unique phenomenon. That is, there is no other equal for this act of reading a particular piece by an individual followed by and preceded by some other text or sensory experience. For example, this morning I finished reading Orwell's masterpiece '1984'. But last evening, while I was coming to the book's end and while my mind was already abuzz with a lot of 'doublethink', I was craving to read some poetry also. While going through a number of volumes in my collection, I picked up the collected works of Kaifi Aazmi titled 'Sarmaya'. By the time I completed '1984', I also went through more than half the verses of this collection.

In other words, what I meant by my opening statement was that, I'm sure I'm the only person in the world who has read or started reading '1984' after reading the poetry of Faiz and Gulzar; and ended it while reading Kaifi sahab's poetry. And this is what makes my reading 1984 (or any other text) a truly unique phenomenon.

Same is the case with any reader who picks up a book, following and preceding any experience that only s/he could have had. So any poem, novel, play, essay does not remain what was written by the author. Every reader brings a part of him or her to the table. What was written by the author continuously changes shape, color, texture, and intensity as per that individual reader's past and future experiences.

Reading Kaifi Aazmi with 1984 was rare even by these unique standards. While on one hand, Orwell denounces any type of oligarchy, whether socialist, nazi, or western-capitalist, Aazmi on the other hand is an avowed socialist. More than half of his book is filled with verses of/about revolution, of failures of the then current political order and of dreams of a common brotherhood.

I, on my part didn't read much of the revolutionary verses. It is his other work, about the position of man in this hierarchical society, about Hindu-Muslim unity, and a few poems with a touch of romance was what I liked more. Kaifi the poet is disillusioned, but still hopeful of a revolution, of a better, equal world. Though I stopped myself at his disillusioned best.

Orwell, the author gives a warning, a forever timely one, that the world at any moment could slip into the hands of those few who might have more power, more control over humanity than it has ever been attempted before. He is the voice of the 'negative utopia', wherein the very revolution that the poet Kaifi dreams of, has dehumanized, debased, degenerated the common men and women it was supposed to raise to a better level.

Reading these two together I realized that they both are talking about the same subject, though one has dreams of a better world 'before' his revolution; the other has nightmares of a worsened world 'after' that revolution. The sad part is, that the people on whose behalf they dream or the people they want to warn, those people will always remain in the same state of affairs, whichever side the coin falls.

"कोई तो सूद चुकाए, कोई तो जिम्मा ले
उस इन्किलाब का आज तक उधार सा है"

"At least somebody step forward and pay the interest
of the revolution that is still unpaid for"

by the way, you can read this complete gazal at my other blog, here:


Neelabh said...

It must be unique experience. For me its almost impossible to read two things side by side. I have to complete one before picking another.

BTW I am picking that sher and posting it on my FB :)

ADITI said...

i really dunno wat to say on this one... but i really loved the thought.... u have very innovative thinking....
i hope some day u will bring a revolution with ure own writing :)

Sigma said...

Beautiful post. The couplet you quoted was lovely, didn't much appreciate the rest of the ghazal though.

Anonymous said...

You're one of the few people I know who can read about revolutions, simultaneously. I have yet to meet more people like you, actually. Very thought-provoking quotes you've picked up from both your reads. Lovely post!

Ed Newman said...

The kernel of your thought is an interesting one, how experience impacts experience. That is really what this is saying. Your experience of 1984 brought new insights by its immediate juxtaposition with the poetry that followed.

I have had this happen many times and even this week. I had been reading Castro's My Life and then read a biography of U.S. president Harry S. Truman. There was a little section in the Truman bio that jumped out at me with particular force only because I had read the Castro bio just before it.

Sometimes a person goes through a horrrific experience that that experience, though years ago, may still be vivid for them in their memory so that it colors all of their reading afterwards as if it had happened the day before. This staining ends when there has been some measure of healing from the wounds of that memory or experience.

Anyways, liked your post.

delhidreams said...

thanks guys. not many people reacted to this post and am actually glad for that :)

neelabh: hahaha here you go! btw, even if u r not 'reading' two things side by side, u r definitely having/have had other sensory experiences while/before reading that text. and those will shape your reading of the text as completely different from anyone else in this world.

aditi: *amen* :)

signa: thanks. i must say i'll have to agree with you on the gazal part :)

parul: u r amongst the few people who can bring a smile even in the darkest of days. thanks parul ji :)

ed: u summed it up in just one line, "how experience impact experience". and that is what i call experience :D thanks a lot for visiting my corner of the world. am honored to have you here :)

baavriviti said...

you would adee ;) you would decide to read those two together and i would expect it only from someone like you :D
i saw battle of algiers last night. revolution has kinda taken over my mind.
i read 1984 when i was in 11th grade. i remember being scared of the thought of control to such levels as shown in the book. i have never read kaifi azmi's work. must be quite an experience.
i liked the post a lot :)

Anonymous said...

1984 is one masterpiece I've read. I agree to a few of Orwell's points about the revolutions suppressing the people to a much greater extent than they were supposed to uplift them. Even in an ideal world, sans differences, there are still rulers who are going to take advantage of the innocents.

To sum it up, common man ends up on the receiving end, no matter what.

Brilliant post and contradicting, yet thought provoking ideas which could be discussed on the same level.

delhidreams said...

baavri: :) i'll try to share some more works by Kaifi sa'b with you. yes, reading them together was quite an experience. thanks for the comment :)

LHI: thanks. glad u liked the post. yes, the common wo/man will always end up at the end of everything. thanks once again.

dreamt before

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