Writers, Academics Respond to Gauri Lankesh’s Murder

 

"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

 

 

Angelus Novus – For Gauri Lankesh

 

 

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