A Lament For the Whisperers
We spoke softly. The memory of it may now be buried in the dung heap of raucous decibels, be we did whisper once upon a time. We did not need to any more. Whispers were enough. Okay, not whispers all the time, but a softly spoken tone. Not weak. Not fragile. Not lacking in strength or vigour. In fact quite firm. And forthright. But softly so. We whispered away the mightiest global empire from these shores. We did not scream. We did not rave and rant. We did not raise arms. We did not fire a shot. We called nobody any names.
We merely stated, even of tone, that things were as they were and they ought no longer be so. We refused to cooperate when we thought we ought to. We boycotted when we thought we ought to. We consigned to holy fires what we did, all manner of things. As protest for what we would not have. As protest for what had been imposed on us. As protest for what we recognised as no longer acceptable, even though we were told it was much the vogue of the day. We shoved it. But we shoved it quietly and collectively. To the fires we put such things, and we returned stoic, as if nothing had happened but a protest. As if nothing more had happened than us putting our signature on it. We burnt. Oh yes we did. But we did not commit arson. There are differences.
As I keep saying, but nobody understands, or few do, there are differences. Differences.
There is a difference between lighting a candle or a diya and lighting a pyre, for instance. One is a beginning, the other the beginning to an end. All things that begin must end, but yet there is a difference between lighting a diya or a candle, and lighting a pyre. You understand, of course. Some differences you shall have to understand.
There are beginnings. And there are ends. There are rituals of lighting to beginnings and to ends. But there are differences. Once we set fire to things as a mark of our collective revolt and celebration. What has now become of us? What has now become of us that we set fires with animus, fires of animosity?
And we no longer whisper. We scream. And we scream so loud and so often that screaming has become not screaming but speaking. Screaming is how we speak. It is the new normal. We used to quietly light diyas and candles and we used to reckon their warmth sufficient.
We would very often take those lights out and light up our streets and lanes and bylanes. And whisper to each other glad tidings. It’s our festival. Oh it’s your festival? And your festival too? It’s our collective festival? Is it? Let there be light. Bah! Let there be light. Let there be lights!! But what has suddenly become of us? I mean, I am the all seeing one, Mahadeb. What has suddenly become of us that we are no longer lighting lights to the purposes we used to? That we are lighting things for other purposes? That we are resorting to setting things alight?
I am, as I said, and would reliably repeat to you, Mahadeb. Part of who I am is also destruction. Have you not heard of my Tandav? It is how I dance. And when I dance there is debris to be expected around where I dance. I am Tandav. I know a few things about destruction. Believe me. But I can see there are few who know it too —- Destruction. And how to go about it. Whispering is not one of them. Destruction comes with noise. Whispering comes with the umbra of silences: shhhhhhhh! It is nothing that can even get mention. Those that whisper silently pass. Those that scream stay. That is how we have become, that is who we are. Or you are.