• Writers, Academics Respond to Gauri Lankesh’s Murder

    Geetanjali Shree and Rukmini Bhaya Nair

    September 11, 2017


    "A friend quoted from Brecht's Conversations in Exile which he wrote in the 1940s, and in which he mentions, with bitter irony, "the great men who have surfaced in various parts of the world". Indeed, we are at the mercy of just such who are busy chasing their own “greatness” and have left the country orphaned and lawless.  No protection even inside the four walls of our house; and certainly none if you wish to be anything but an obedient robot.

    It is too distressing, and even our outrage feels so helpless. But we have to guard against this helplessness. Gauri Lankesh is yet another warning that we must protect human values and decency in our world and reinstate justice, responsible governance and a tolerant society."

    Geetanjali Shree


    Image courtesy Manoramaonline


    Angelus Novus – For Gauri Lankesh


    Image courtesy Wikipedia


    When the dark gunners got her
    We walked backwards

    When Rohit tied that eternal
    Knot, we walked backwards

    When they raped Nirbhaya
    On Delhi’s streets, we walked

    Backwards into hate’s red storm
    When the CPM and RSS tribes

    Wiped each other out in Kannur
    We walked backwards

    I did not know her or him or him
    Or her or those tousled children

    Dying in their mothers’ arms
    In the feckless hospitals of UP

    What I knew in my quiet
    Scholar’s retreat was Death

    On my walls and the cold winds
    That drove the Angel of History

    Backwards and blindsided him
    Into the commons of night

    Paul Klee’s helpless creature
    Caught in Walter Benjamin’s

    Unutterable net of words
    Thus: His eyes are staring

    His mouth is open, his wings are
    Spread. This is how, he wrote

    One pictures the angel of history
    His face is turned toward the past

    The angel would like to stay
    Awaken the dead, and make whole

    What has been smashed
    But a storm is blowing from

    Paradise, it has got caught in
    His wings with such violence that

    The angel can no longer close them
    The storm irresistibly propels him

     Into the future to which his back
    Is turned, while the pile of debris

    Before him grows skyward
    This storm is what we call progress

    These were Benjamin’s wise words
    Mine are simpler and far less certain

    Progress is no storm, nor is it
    Walking backwards into the future

    It is the freedom to speak without fear
    And to study history without hysteria

    Or if this is not Progress, at least it is
    The right to say: I did not know her

    I did not know him and there are
    A zillion other unfathomable things

    I do not know but when I hear them sing
    I know some have guts – and also wings


    Rukmini Bhaya Nair

    Geetanjali Shree is a Hindi novelist and short story writer based in New Delhi, India.

    Rukmini Bhaya Nair is an eminent linguist, award winning poet, writer and critic of India. 

    Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.