Don’t forgot, the pen is mightier than the sword!

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Jaipur Lit Fest by Shailendra (10)As tensions accelerate here and there and all along the LOC, I have been asking myself — Can’t sense prevail? Can’t we see that politics of hate and hatred is being generated amongst the countries of this subcontinent so that we remain far away and cut off from each other? Can’t we see political lobbies and arms dealers coming in way of our togetherness? Can’t we see the destructive powers of the political mafia? Can’t we see the bigger designs of powers and super powers controlling our lives and livelihoods? Can’t we comprehend the dangers ahead, as every single day more divisions are thrust in our midst, in the way of our collective togetherness?

As I sit rather forlorn, there comes in this latest issue of ‘The Equator Line’ with this rather catchy title sprawled on its cover — ‘Imagine There’re No Countries.’ Nudging me into imagining: what if this world or at least this subcontinent was to be one! No barriers. No boundaries. No Line of Control. No political hurdles. No hounding and killing of refuge- seekers. No hate speeches. No wars. No surgical strikes. No arms dealers in those various guises hovering around the top politicians of the day. Yes, it would be bliss!

And I delved into the pages of this latest issue of The Equator Line, it was sheer delight to read writers from different countries of this subcontinent and even beyond, each of them focusing on the human and his or her very being! And as I delved somewhat
more into the five-year-long journey of this refreshingly different publication, there was that connect with an entire range of simple happenings in our daily lives which we seem to be bypassing or overlooking or trampling upon, caught that we are in the midst of the complicatedly chaotic changes spreading around.

To quote the magazine’s chief editor, Bhaskar Roy, “At a time when the once-mighty print media appeared overtaken by new technology, TEL began its journey — tentatively amidst uncertainties. Surprisingly, in the past five years that the magazine has been on the road, it has found space for itself with the young professionals and academic community strongly backing it. Every issue of TEL picks up a theme, and everything between the covers revolves around it. The issue that hit the stands on New Year’s Day 2012 focused on the leadership question. India: Waiting for a New Helmsman — that was the title of the first TEL number. The next issue raised a new debate questioning the validity of the Radcliff Line. The Subcontinent: Reinterpreting the Radcliff Line asks the intelligentsia on either side of the border about their shared heritage and uncertain future. The writers, academics and other professionals responded in equal measure to the challenge of achieving peace, rejecting the division, and pointing out that the resilience of the common affinities are stronger than the political division…” In fact, Bhaskar Roy also focuses on its very reach. “With every such innovative number the magazine broke new ground and won wide approval. And for Peter Canby, a legendary editor at The New Yorker this magazine from India is indeed good news. “‘I am very happy to have a stack of ‘Equator Line’ in my office — both to browse in and share with others.”

♦ ♦ ♦

Today our very survival is at stake, as the political mafia accelerates its treachery, destroying us as never before. Today it’s the fundamental duty of each single writer to cry out, through words. Believe me, words from the very heart do reach out, do connect, could halt the sheer brutality inflicted each single day. It doesn’t really matter which region or religion you belong to. What’s crucial is the fact that no political ruler has the sanction to hoodwink the masses and then make them indulge in killings, here and there. Today, it’s getting frightful to see hundreds of refugees queueing up, running for their lives from here to there. It’s not just the hapless Rohingyas but also the internally displaced, fleeing the politically charged goons hounding them. Yes, something or everything horribly wrong is ongoing, yet we are not reacting! Mute we sit. Why?

Remember the Progressive Writers’ movement came up in the 1930s when the then repressive situation was getting impossible to deal with? Writers and poets had come to the fore, armed with verse and prose. Yes, just words and more of them, each word dripping with passion and purpose. As this verse by Sahir Ludhianvi still stands out—
“Here we go, stoking fire through song-laden lips/
The fear of the world can never staunch the flow of our words/
In all, we have just one view, our own/
Why should we see the world through someone else’s eyes?/
It is true we did not turn the world into a garden/
But at least we lessened some thorns from the paths we travelled.”

Move your pen, my countrymen. Time ripe, rather over-ripe for a full-fledged writers’ movement to take off. Call it by any name or term of choice but it ought to halt the fascist forces denting and destroying this entire region. It ought to be such a tough movement which can take on the might of the rulers and their ruthlessness inflicted on us and on our children, day after day. So much so, that this generation seems to know more about wars and conflicts and hate- killings and surgical strikes than about our literature and those literary giants who’d more than hinted of the tough stand one ought to take in dark times.

Read and re-read this passion-laden verse of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, his words compelling each one of us to pick up the pen and write on, to write fearlessly without giving a damn to the hurdles thrown along the way by the brutalities of the rulers and the very machinery they man:

“So what if my pen has been snatched away from me/
I have dipped my fingers in the blood of my heart/
So what if my mouth has been sealed; I have turned/
Every link of my chain into a speaking tongue.”

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