Thursday, December 10, 2009

To sing with subtlety in these murderous times

Today, on Human Rights Day 2009, I thought of an editorial I'd written almost exactly 7 years ago in January 2003, as guest editor of the Newsletter of the Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (Iaclals). I'd titled the editorial, "To Sing with Subtlety in these Murderous Times" - translating the title of a classic Esperanto poem by Kálmán Kalocsay (1891-1976): "Subtile kanti en ĉi murdepoko".

I wrote the editorial during the week following the death of Sujit Mukherjee - The gentleman scholar, Ramchandra Guha called him. (And on 16 September this year, we lost my teacher Meenakshi Mukherjee as well.)

In January 2003 we were not only grieving for Sujitda. It was also the period between the Gujarat genocide and the Iraq war. All this and more I mentioned in the editorial, concluding:

"Can Writing Make a Difference? Do these murderous times need songs sung with subtlety? The answer -- from Gujarat, Ghosh, Chomsky and the thousands at the Asian Social Forum -- is a resounding Yes!"

I invite you to read the full editorial.