#OurGauri: “For her, movements and friendship were interdependent.”
Translated from the original Kannada by Yogesh S
December 5, 2017
For people like me, who are involved in various struggles in Karnataka for the last thirty-five years, and have seen success sometimes and have been caught up in certain illusions in other instances, Gauri was a force which would interfere very often to either fight with us, or extend her solidarity. Her murder has disturbed the balance of my life. I am currently stuck in a situation in which I am reminded of my interactions with her. It would have been easy to describe the way in which I saw her if my relationship with her was only restricted to that of a comrade. If she was a friend whom I was personally close to, it would have been easy to describe her based on the flood of emotions that I am feeling now. She was a comrade, a friend, and an ideological and intellectual companion for many people like me. I understood this only after her death. The cruelty behind her murder and its relationship with the evil forces functioning in society can be seen very clearly. Her life, a perfect balance between professional and personal, and her tireless spirit to work, overwhelmed me.
I knew her only through her writings in Sunday before she took over Lankesh Patrike. I was quite doubtful about her decision to be the editor of Lankesh Patrike. Many of us looked at her as an English educated journalist. She was not involved in any movements when I started to interact with her. We started to interact when I was reporting the violence perpetrated by the Hindu fundamentalist groups in Karavali. When she got involved fearlessly in the issue around Bababudangiri and was arrested, I was forced to rethink about her personality. Whereever she felt there’s injustice, she submerged herself into it, but she always refused to be a member of any organisation. Because Karnataka Komu Saouharda Vedike (Karnataka Forum for Communal Harmony) was an amalgamation of various organisations, and was very transparent in its formation, she agreed to be a member of the forum.
Generally, she refused to be a part of any organisation. There have also been instances when she has moved away from the movements that took to violence. However, she never restricted her tabloid from reporting or writing about these movements. She admitted that her participation in these movements had broadened her horizons and had increased her networks of interpersonal relationships, but her obsession with freedom was what had stopped her to get stuck within the boundaries of any organisation. It is this that had brought many of us very close to her. As any other middle class person, she was interested in various things and also had many hobbies. She also had various sensitivities as a result of her independent and a free lifestyle. She would get close too soon to people who were like her and who respected her space. Looking at her we learnt that differences of opinion couldn’t destroy our relationship with a person. If there were individuals who she cared about, but had differences between each other, she would interfere and resolve the issue. Whenever she would say, “I will set this right”, we could sense a great deal of hope in her words. She would be angry if people didn’t listen to her. I am still surprised with the fact that, a person who was as obsessed as Gauri with her personal space, would strive so hard to not let any relationships break.
She did not ask anyone about their personal lives. At the same time, she did not speak about her personal life to anyone. She believed that the bits of information one would gather through conversations are enough. Gauri chose to live her life alone because she was not ready to compromise with her freedom; nevertheless, her family was everything for her. She was someone who married a person of her choice and then informed her family about her marriage. Even after the divorce, she remained friends with her ex-husband, and stayed in touch with his family. She treated the relationships she had developed through her involvement in movements in the same way. There was no pretense when she addressed many as her children and her brothers. She was extremely happy about the relationships that the society has failed to recoginse as relationships. Her life would challenge the views our society had about an independent modern woman. She never would change her decisions. She would always jokingly say, “I am democratic as long as my opinions are accepted”. Gauri was someone who could not be changed. She would adamantly and strongly stand by her decisions, even when she has to confront the strongest forces. This was what made me call her ‘Aane baddi Rangavva’ based on the heroine of Lankesh’s novel Mussanje Kathaprasanga (A Story of Dusk).
She was exactly like Rangavva. She was determined to build relations that had to be nurtured just like Rangavva. For her, movements and friendship were interdependent. It was her project to maintain her individuality even when she fought with others in a movement. It is probably this persona of hers that brought her close to the youth. Women, dalits, and other sections of society who have no power pose a question to the establishment through the ways in which they live their lives. Gauri has not only shown us this through her work of seventeen years but also has set a model to fight for their causes.
She was “Gauri madame” for many women with whom she would interact. The very next day after her murder, Poornima, a girl from Taleguppa in Shivamogga, held a placard and marched alone for twenty kilometers to Sagara. This shows the richness of Gauri’s life and the love that people had for her. We do not know who killed her but we can clearly see those who are trying to make spread lies about her life.
First published in the commemorative edition by Gauri Lankesh Patrike
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