The battle has begun from Kolkata. With the battle-ground shifting next week to New Delhi, there could be several offshoots. Foremost, Mamata Banerjee would come centre-stage! Fierce - or shall we say fiercer and shriller - will be those cries and counter cries. In fact, she is one of those leaders who don’t ever spare any of the BJP and RSS wallahs.
It's an absolutely frontal attack on the Yogis and Modis and Shahs of the day. She is sure to list out the exact failures of the government of the day, together with the killings and hounding taking place. She could also take up the EVM issue, after all, the entire opposition is well aware of the fact that all their combined efforts to halt the fascist forces could get reduced to a near- nil if the EVMs turn faulty or are fiddled with…As I have been writing all along, the entire controversy vis – a- vis the EVMs are saddled with facts, yet the Election Commission insists on discarding pleas to get back to the ballot paper before the 2019 elections. Why not the ballot paper! Its been one of those traditional ways to the entire electioneering process, so why don’t we stick to this safer option and not to go for any of the hi- tech ways in the midst of the prevailing political climate, where the rulers of the day are said to be in that mood to manipulate and control power.
Needless to stress that these upcoming 2019 elections are going to be absolutely crucial. I f the Right-wing comes to power, it will be nothing short of a disaster. Already those deep divisions, that dangerous polarization is writ large. An emergency staring out there, a partitioning taking place which might hit us on a large scale.
Have you wondered what future awaits us if the Right Wing comes back to power? We might not remain intact. We could witness the further destruction of the very remains of the democratic fabric. We could become riddled with further factions and fractures. We and our voices could be silenced as never before. And all those trying to put up a fight could be arrested on various charges and dumped to languish in the jails and detention and interrogation centres.
Are we, on a collective level or even individually, taking on the enemies flourishing well within the confines of the country? No, we aren’t. Either we are so very occupied trying to feed ourselves that there’s little time left to think of what tomorrow could hold out. Or else, political gloom has come to gnaw, hitting nerves and the very psyche. Another obstructing factor could be the various distractions thrown in way.
The counters to the growing anarchy could be in the form of screenings of the award-winning film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ - which portrays the sheer disasters unfolding in Rwanda when civil war overtook and with the two warring tribes/communities killed and raped each other. Or else read aloud - Khushwant Singh’s book End of India ( Penguin ) where he writes in great detail of the disasters that the fascist Right-Wing will heap on our country and on us. Or else go around and spread out details of the realities of the day: obscene corruption, growing joblessness, crumbling structures- human and otherwise, government’s hold on the very independence of institutions, fake political promises and the sheer illusions thrown about…The list is long.
ON TALAT MAHMOOD’s UPCOMING BIRTHDAY - February 24
Born in 1924, in Lucknow, singer Talat Mahmood, would have turned 95 this February 24… though I also hail from Lucknow but had never met him, nor his immediate family. But I did manage to gather several details of him from Rafia Hussain, the late cuisine expert of Avadh who had settled down in New Delhi.
Interestingly, she was related to both, Begum Akhtar and also to Talat Mahmood. She was the niece of Begum Akhtar’s husband barrister Ishtiaq Ahmad Abbasi, and Talat Mahmood was her mother’s first cousin, so with that connection he was her mamu/maternal uncle. “There was a difference of about 20 years between us. And those pre-partition days he’d lived with his family on Lucknow’s Batashe - Wali - Gali. Our families met regularly, visited each other’s homes very frequently...His father, Manzoor Mahmood, owned an electric fittings-cum-gramophone shop in Lucknow, and he was better known as the one who sang Iqbal’s popular tarana ‘Chino Arab hamara/ Hindoostan hamara …’. He sang it at every Muslim League function…later our meetings lessened and then stopped, as his family migrated to Pakistan.”
When I had asked Rafia why Talat Mahmood did not migrate to Pakistan when his entire clan shifted there, she had this to say - “ I think at the time of the Partition Talat mamu and his elder sister were in Calcutta. And though his entire family did migrate to Pakistan, he and his elder sister opted to stay back in India.”
I had also asked Rafia - were personal upheavals in his life and marriage the cause of his ill health?
“Foremost, I must say that contrary to all those reports he was happily married. Though his wife Nasreen comes from a different background and she is a Christian, they were compatible and till the end she really cared for him. She was warm to his relatives who visited them.”
Then why that emotional pain in his voice?
“Temperamentally he could not adjust to the ways of the film world. Also, that initial shock that his entire family had migrated to a new country and would be settling down there for ever, had affected him to a certain extent …he was far too sensitive, he’d internalized that pain. But till the very end he was sure that he would never leave his home country …after all , he had opted to stay back at any cost.”