Obit for a 'dead' poet

His 51 poems say it all. But his politics doesn’t.

He wrote-

‘I am able to see myself

from the eyes of others,

I am neither silent, 

nor am I singing!’

Swayam ko doosru ki drushti say

Main dekh paata hoon,

Na main chup hoon,

Na main gaataa hoon….

His 51 poems say it all.

But his politics doesn’t.

 

I recall seeing him speak,

on small television screen.

Tilting his head,

taking serene pauses,

evenly closing his eyes

while communing his words

in deep voice.

 

I liked his manner,

his oratory power of standpoints.

Chaste Hindi words, 

profound and rhapsodic,

blend with placid articulation.

 

Maestros Lata and Jagjit

bestowed their magic to his words.

Albums Antarnaad and Samvedna

retained the sublimity

plus simplicity of his verses.

 

Gulzar gave his unruffled voice

to the sensitive politician’s

poetic predicament. 

 

I as a collegiate 

thought of him

as “JanSangh” in Kashmiri,

while his politics wasn’t that scary

and saffron color wasn’t this grim.

 

Today, his brand of Hindutva 

appears gentler, reasonably inclusive.

In disparity to invasive

lynching and love-jihad.

 

Yes, he leveled the ground

for bouldering down Babri Masjid.

He juggled with words

as Kar Sevaks cheered to his allusions

a day before despicable demolition.

His speaking worked!

 

But he spoke nothing 

when Gujarat pogrom happened.

Truther in him was mute,

he did nothing to stop it.

The poet in him was

suspended in disbelief.

Or else was it

 ‘Na main chup hoon,

Na main gaataa hoon….’

Interplaying voices and silences?

 

I wonder what happens

when perceptive minds

freeze in frivolity of

self-serving attitudes?

Stop singing,

stifling the inner voice?

 

Is that how poets die

on their own?

Or others slay them?

Forever.

 

At moments of crises,

his concerns and convictions,

sensitivity and determination,

everything became subjective.

He saw himself as a powerless poet….

‘Kya khoya kya paya jag mein 

Milte aur bichadte pag mein 

Mujhe kisi se nahi shikayat 

Yadhyapi chala gaya pag pag mein…’

 

Yet, politician

lives on, perpetually.

With his failures and feats.

So will Atal Bihari Vajpayee—

the man who boarded 

the bus of friendship 

to experience the warring heat 

of Tiger Hills.

The man who was lonely

in his stately struggles,

as Taj Mahal proved  miserably vain.

Still,

he held no grudges against anyone,

Mujhe kisi se nahi shikayat…… 

 

History had hope in him.

Poetry had faith in him.

But most crucially

politics had plans for him!

 

The statesman and poet in him

was consumed by politics.

In our day, that’s why

his Insaaniyat is insidious,

his Jamhooriyat joked

and his Kashmiriyat gone kaput.