A canister beating itself
Bear with me. I begin where I left off.
Between the week gone and the week to come, I’ve waited here, on the stage and on the microphone, like well-brought up folks should wait. For their turn. I wasn’t finished when I left, I believe I am entitled a finish. An end to what was begun. I still have things to say. Surprised? You’ve all become used to it, haven’t you? Only that one voice. Only that one clamour. Raging on and on and on.
And there was a time, I do agree, that one voice and one clamour used to sound as if it were fed by ballast — the voice and the clamour too. There was a time. There was an occasion. It broke onto our ears, we gave it our ears. Give it a hearing. Give it a chance. Give another man a chance. That happened. Another man, we gave a chance. For what he said. For what he swore.
For what? That man is still saying. That man is still swearing. That man is still blathering on and on and on.
And now he has begun to sound like the voice and the clamour of an empty canister that there is nothing to beat with but itself. The sound of an empty canister beating itself, flagellating. Seventy years ago, mitron, this happened! Sixty years ago, bhaaiyon-behnon, that happened!! Fifty years ago, have you ever even heard of this, yeh huaaaaaa! Haaan! Fifty years ago, don’t forget! Never forget! Nana! Naaani!!! What did they do? This Nana!! Maino kya pata? Maino, I don’t know anything. Maino maaf karo. I don’t know what happens ji, Maino, when I think of Nana-Nani, it just, sort of, it drives me crazy, you know. The moment I hear Maino, I don’t know what happens to Maino? I can’t tell; you tell me. Am I crazy? And they blame Maino, but why don’t they blame Taino? Hainji? Tell me. Tell me, naa? Please. What am I to do but ask? And this Pardada aur pardada ke par. Dadi, Dadi, Dadi! Dadi ki aisi ki taisi. Frauds!
I ask of you today! What did they do? What did they ever do? Did they ever slaughter a man walking the road with his cattle? No. Did they ever stab the youngster wearing that sort of cap? No. Did they ever say you are all wrong to all wrong people? No. Did they ever banish your earnings and line you up to prove you were naked and starving and unable to access your rightful things and say prove you are really worth it? No. Did they ever say, if you can’t, go to Bakistan? No. Did they ever say Nathuram did what he did and that was the right thing to do? No. Did they ever say hamaarey paanch, unkey pachees and this is what the battle is about? No. Did they ever say mandir waheen banayenge? No. Did they ever make a supplicant of a homeless God? No. There.
TheChaiwala! His tea is meant to steam and talk, not he himself. He can’t serve any, you see, he is the serving. And he is the serving you ordered. A canister beating itself! Enjoy.
“These mist covered mountains Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Someday you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn to be
Brothers in arms.
“Through these fields of destruction,
Baptisms of fire;
I’ve witnessed your sorrow, friends
As the battle raged higher;
And though they did hurt me so bad,
In the fear and alarm;
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms.
“There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones.”
I borrow your lines, mortal Mark, I borrow your lines. From behind the fields and the mountains, from beyond what lies reaped, the season’s bloodied harvest. Because I am stumped and stupefied, even though I am on the stage and on the microphone. But I remain stunned and stilled.
This is my place. And this is your place. And nothing moves that. And nothing changes that. I, Mahadeb, will speak. And you shall one day hear.