Divide and rule

(A reflection on current political environment in India and world. Poetry in Hindi followed by translation in English)

Divide and rule
इतना विदेशी नहीं 
जितना बताया गया 
धर्म और जाति के नाम पर 
इंसानियत बाँटने वाले 
आज भी सत्ता पर विराजमान हो रहे हैं 

Invitation card
पर किसी और का नाम है 
और अंदर कोई और मेज़बान है 
सत्ता का खेल है भाई 
कल तू देश से खेला 
तो आज मेरा एक प्रांत तो बनता है 

Nationalism
के नाम पर कितना खेलोगे भाई? 
आज इतना समझ आने लगा– 
नेताओं का nation जनता से अलग होता है 
उनकी परिभाषा में तो 

हम बस उनकी सत्ता और स्वार्थ के ग़ुलाम हैं 
पर ना जाने कब ये मदहोश जनता समझेगी 
Nationalism एक national-illusion है! 
जनता के अनजान डर पर पनपता
ये उसी “divide & rule” का वंशज है
और इंसानियत को बाँटने वाले -isms का बड़ा भाई

यदि दिल की खिड़की खोल के देखें 
धर्म के जड़ों को झँझोड़ के देखें
सम्प्रदाय के बेड़ों को चंद पलों के लिए तोड़ के देखें
और तकिए के नीचे से सत्य का पन्ना पलट के देखें
तो एहसास होगा कि हर लिबास के पीछे मैं हूँ
और समाज का विभाग कर के राज करने वाले खेल का 
सबसे बेख़बर मुहरा और सबसे बड़ी मात भी मैं ही हूँ 

— दिल की गहराइयों में क़ैद एक आवाज़ 
………………

Divide and rule
(English translation)

“Divide and rule” 
Is not that foreign 
As we are taught
Those who divide humanity
On name of religion and caste
Are still rising to power 

Who invites us to the show
Is way different from who rules 
So is the game of power 
Yesterday, you played the nation 
Dare not stop me from playing this faction 

Nationalism 
How long will you play this chord?
We can see now–
Nation defined by political leaders 
Is different from the ones they serve 
In their definition, 
Their ego & power is the center 
And we are their dumb slaves 

Wonder, when will we the intoxicated people realise 
Nationalism is a national-illusion
Thriving on the unknown fear of its people
Running the bloodline of same old “divide & rule” 
It is the big brother of all other “isms” that fragment humanity 

If we open our hearts 
Shake the roots of religions
Break the bounds of caste and creed
And pull out the truth hidden below our pillows 
We will know..
The one hidden in any costume is “me”
The one who gets played this dirty game of divide and rule 
And the one who looses the worst…
Is also “me”

— a voice prisoned in depths of our hearts!

from the Sacred Well
@sacredwell.in
(Manish Srivastava)

Image from https://m.downloadatoz.com/two-cats-and-a-monkey-story/com.storybook.catsmonkey/

Advertisements

India- Its time to own our own shit!

This poetry-prose is triggered by recent uprising of dalits (permanently untouchable low castes) as a response to increasing atrocities and injustice they have faced in recent times. Indian society is at another verge of evolution. This is an opportunity for us to clean years of shit that we had conveniently put under our archaic carpets!


It’s time for those
dancing on white marble floors–
To know where our shit goes,
who wipes our streets,
and mops our floors
Cause those who were
systemically condemned
to live in hell,
have awakened
and won’t do it anymore!

It’s time for all of us
to own our own shit!

While we dipped our fingers
in sandalwood with care,
They were neck deep
in our gutters and sewers
While we donned our white kurta
and self-righteous ego
They were stripped of their shirts
And dragged naked in streets…

Now the dirt inside
is staining the white

It’s time for all of us
to own our own shit!

As long there is a task in our mind
that we look down upon
And a part in our psyche
that we shudder to own
Or a longing in our vanity box
Thats too comfortable with low-cost helps…
There will be untouchables!

Untouchability is a social innovation, created by & for, all of us!

Ensuring guaranteed supply of cheap slaves generations after generations!

High castes download it as their birthright. Finding nothing weird in expecting a fellow human being to live on leftovers, forever. Neo-rich and middle-class play another game. On surface they try to look good by giving their used clothes and old electronics to their domestic helps (not very different from skinning dead cattle). However, deep down they also enjoy the convenient and low-cost labour that cleans their shit and supports their life while they pursue their big dreams. Thus they also collude with the existing system that cares nothing about equality, education and progress of dalits.

Lets face it…
Are we providing employment benefits and respect to maids, drivers, cleaners just like employees in business or public organisations?
Can we imagine them sitting on same table for dinner with us?
Why are the jobs like cleaning, sanitation, service, least valued and least compensated?
Why do we strive so hard to gather and show the power and influence but absolve ourselves of any responsibility to change the life of those living in slums and streets? Are we really curious? Or too quick to justify their condition as not our business?

We need to look within..
Each one of us
To shift the paradigm
From our homes, to our streets and the state

(Watch this video and read more below or click on this link)

 

A quarter of India is Untouchable
A quarter of India is systemically oppressed, dehumanised, suppressed–
to serve rest of us,
to clean our shit,
skin our dead cattle,
from generation to generation..
Keeping their mouth shut!

A quarter of India
Is excluded from the GDP growth saga
A quarter of India
Is not counted in great story of Indian compassion and humanity

This quarter of India is 300 million people.
As large as entire population of USA.
This quarter of India is boiling right now
Gathering like a human tsunami
Asking for justice
for generations of atrocities
Calling the facade off our faces

They have thrown the wrench
They are showing the mirror
and awakening the conscience of our country
its another service
This time they are helping us
clean our conscience!

Wake up India!
Its time to clean our own shit

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.sacredwell.in
manish srivastava
03/08/2016

—–

Some references:

Who are dalits? 
An assault on Dalits may have triggered the biggest lower-caste uprising in Gujarat in 30 years
Dalits pledge not to lift animal carcasses in Gujarat
Descent into hell: Mumbai’s dehumanised sewer workers 

 

 

Million Drops of Love

Humanity stands at a new threshold
Rising hatred, sinking hope
For every spark of hatred
Let’s rain million drops of love…

million drops of love

Just before the dawn of new humanity
A massive wave hit the hearts
A relapse of sorts
Intense tribal fear kicked in
The world started walking backwards
Sliding back into their caves
Of nationality, caste, class, religion and race
Whatever be the label
The stone on mouth of each cave read “fear”
Fear of being loved
Fear of being lost in eachother
Fear of breaking the old
And letting the newer and higher emerge
Irrational fear
Beyond all logic and education
Living unchecked in each heart
Only manifested by some lone wolves…
Before we scapegoat them
Let’s look within, our own caves
This is our time…
History of evolution is being created
Each of us stands at the threshold
Of our caves…
Either we step out,
Dissolve the boundaries that divide us
Embrace the other
Co-create a new world
Or we step further in,
Our comfort zones that separate us
Continue the war of “us vs them”
That has destroyed civilisation again and again
The wall that’s reinforced to protect
Also isolates and stifles the one within
The gun that’s fired to eliminate
Also kills the one who holds it
The hatred that justifies righteousness
Burns the one who lives within
Once again, we are in a divine tug of war
manthan within every heart
What would sustain us?
Who will we be at the other end?
What will we tell our children?
It’s our test as humanity…
For every act of violence,
Let’s take million steps of peace…
For every cave that’s closes,
Let’s open million hearts with hope…
For every spark of hatred,
Let’s rain million drops of love…
Manish Srivastava
Sacred Well
18 June 2016
(artwork by Manish on Moleskin app)
 …
rising hate

Unfamiliar familiarity

FullSizeRender-1

A rustic old man. Sitting next to me. In the middle seat of the aeroplane boarding at Abu Dhabi airport. His head low, feet tapping, carrying a restless, nervous energy around him.

An elderly lady, similar to his age, was sitting on the window seat. She was getting worried by the restless man. She asked the air hostess for a change of seat.

As I settled in my aisle seat I sensed the restlessness and discomfort that I was edging in the little 3-seat space on this plane.

The old man, grey-haired, unshaven, foul-smell coming from his mouth, looked very different from the way I would define a cultured international traveller. Yet, his rustiness, including his childlike curiosity to gaze at my iPad, was endearing.

I asked him, if he was okay?
He rested his head on the TV screen and said nothing.

An air hostess came by and inquired if he needs any medical attention. I translated the same from English to Hindi for him. He told us that he had an headache but he needs no medicine. Later he shared with me that while he was coming thru the immigration check, his daughter was in a different queue and she is held back. He was getting worried, what if she is in some trouble. I asked the air hostess to make the announcement. Our plane was still boarding.

He got curious seeing me help him, and asked me in Hindi:
“Kya aap Pakistan se hain?” (Are you from Pakistan?)
“Nahi, Mumbai.. India.” (No, I am from Mumbai… India), I replied.
“Musalman (Muslim)?”, he further asked seeking some familiarity.
I was a bit reluctant to disappoint him again and said, “well, I am Hindu”
He responded with some assurance “chalo aap insaan hain, achchhe insaan” (Well, you are a human, a good human)

This short conversation seemed important for him to establish familiarity and relationship, that he could only find at a humanity level. Not national. Not religious.

We continued some conversation. I was assuring him that his daughter might be delayed in the long immigration queue for non-US passport holders at the Abu Dhabi airport. Every time a new passenger would board the plane he would hopefully look for his daughter to enter. And I would look at him to hear his relief. I secretly started chatting a Buddhist chant, that I used to practice few years back, for well being of his daughter. Somehow, I became a member of his family.

In the meanwhile, the elderly lady at the window seat started engaging with us by assuring the old man that the plane would not leave till his daughter is back. They started talking and the old lady exclaimed with a sense of new found familiarity.
“So you are from Pakistan, I thought you are an Indian!”

They spoke for some more time trying to figure out each-other’s native cities, community, caste etc. But their familiarity was short-lived. I could guess that inspite of their same country of origin, they had significant differences. The lady was turning uncomfortable with old man’s inquiry. The old man quickly resorted,
“Sabsi badi baat, aap insaan hain” (biggest thing is that you are human).

Once again, I found in their search for familiarity, they could not find a lot in common except their country and language. Finally, the relatedness was established as a human, beyond caste, class, creed and gender.

Three of us had been through awkward exchanges. While he thought, I might be a Pakistani Muslim, I happened to be an Indian Hindu. While the lady on window seat, expected him to be an Indian Hindu, he happened to be an Pakistani Muslim. Yet in that moment, we three were connected by a deep human emotion. A longing of a father to reunite with his daughter. Inspite of our non-familiarity, we were connecting to eachothers’ emotions like a family.

The old man shared his deepest fear. He was scared– what if his young daughter is abducted from the airport. Such things can happen in the world where he came from. He was shivering and stammering while saying that. His fear was real to him. He also shared that he was suffering from diabetes and the blue lunch box in his lap carried insulin. So far, I thought that this rustic village man was carrying his food in the blue lunch box. I regretted my judgements.

His open-heart sharing touched my heart. I thought of my father, who is quite emotional and rustic like him. I touched his shoulder and assured that “she will come”. Part of me was growing worried too.

Somehow, some other elderly men and women sitting around me started relating to this side of me. A women asked me to guide her to her seat. A man asked my help in opening his water bottle seal. I became aware of my youthfulness and felt valued in helping elders.

Suddenly, the old man next to me jumped in excitement.
“Meri beti aa gayi!” (my daughter has come)
He was half standing, trying to reach out to the aisle, bending over me and extending his hand out. His lips shaking, eyes wet, love evident.
I could see a young beautiful women walking towards us. She was assigned a seat somewhere towards the back of the plane. She looked at her father from distance, showing her hand as if asking him to relax. She looked tired and embarrassed by her fathers emotional expression. As she went pass our seats, she just said, “baad mein sab batati hoon” (will share everything later).

The old man folded back his extended arm trying to cope with the emotional expression that could not meet a response in reciprocation. He then turned to me and shared his gratitude for helping and comforting him. He said that this is father-daughter love and paused for a while. I held his shoulder again and asked him to relax.

This exchange between father and daughter had another quality of unfamiliar familiarity. An old rustic father deeply caring and expressing his love and worry. A young, modern daughter, feeling embarrassed to receive and respond to that love in public. The unmet longing of a parent. The overwhelmed distancing of an adoloscent. A real yet incomplete family.

I looked around the plane as it took off. So many people from all ages. Fathers, daughters, sons, mothers, wives, husbands. In spite of our distinct religious, national & racial identities, we are deeply familiar to each-other in our being as a human… longing for love…

(the sacred well)