Copyright: Manabu Ikeda
Existence, 2004, pen, acrylic ink on paper, mounted on board 145×205cm
Impressions
The Beginning Of Imagination
This speck of dirt, too, will be sucked into the widening gyre of time that keeps turning and turning...
COMMENTS PRINT

In the history of earth which is close to five billion years, in which the lineage of humans spans just five million years, what you claim as your history basically begins with the history of caste and the history of inequality in this part of the world, and this is but a few thousand years, in effect a speck in the gyre of time, and your version of the history of this speck is just one speck among many billion such, a speck that will be blown away by a change in the direction of the breeze, a speck that is not even aware of the gyre it is part of, the gyre that has no beginning nor end, a gyre that knows that all its futures are but a repetition of all its pasts, a repetition of tragedies and farces, and you are a sad speck that does not know any of this, a speck unaware of its own inconsequentiality, a speck that thinks it is the world, a speck that thinks the world of itself, a speck that has no sense of the larger universe it is part of, for your history begins with the idea of a temple for a fabled god at a certain place, a god who waged wars on the autochthonous people of this land, helped deface a woman, beheaded a man who sought knowledge, a god who defeated a valiant king by hiding behind a tree, who scorched his beloved born of the earth in the fire of doubt,

 
 
Your script of animus will be so easy to decipher unlike the signs left behind in Harappa,or the Brahmi of Tamilakam
 
 
your history begins and ends with the idea of a temple for such a hollow god, your history that claims to be sanatan, timeless, is bound by a paltry three, okay four, thousand years; you are an unending nightmare in the apnoea of time’s sleep, you are a moment when time holds its breath, and you mistake this to be a moment when time has ceased to breathe, but by the time time releases its breath, you will be hurled into the black hole of timelessness, a hole of infinite density where light itself becomes trapped and all objects become invisible, for, after all, as Berger suggests, what we come to believe as time is a field magnetised by eternity, and your speck is a temporality with defeat written all over it, you are your defeat, please do not think of yourself as a victor, your victory is your defeat; you likely think of this as an event, a historic event, but in the sweep of a few billion years, what you represent is a moment that will fade even before we begin to articulate the moment, for what you really seek to write on the wall of time amounts to a scratch, a desecration, for these are walls that carry traces of life led more than a million years ago by the people of a place we today call Bhimbetka, with scenes in ochre and white done some thirty thousand years ago by our forebears who began lining the dots, a time when we ate the animal we prayed to, wore it as cloth and also painted it; do rewrite all the history textbooks you want to rewrite, raise the ugliest statue for your Iron Man, but these will in no way pose a challenge to the place a few pot-shreds from Mesopotamia and Arikamedu will have in history, your script of animus will be so easy to decipher unlike the signs left behind in Harappa,or the Brahmi of Tamilakam; as for what you and your admirers call development, nothing you have done can match what the people of Mohenjo-Daro did to deal with their piss and shit, because you believe that some humans are meant to carry the shit of other humans, you think it’s a divine calling; to realise how small you and your history are, all you need to do is just see yourself in the backdrop of Qomolungma and the Himalayas, and these, let me tell you, are the youngest of mountain ranges in the world, they were here long before your violent gods, before caste, before the first ever jacarandas bloomed in Kumaon, these Himalayas have emerged on this earth only as recently as sixty million years ago, and so much has happened before them and after them, and they are all so indifferent to you, as are the poppies that bloom in a range of reds this May in Satholi; it will soon become evident that you are the beginning of the best imagination people born in this crevice of time are, or will soon be, capable of; your absolute lack of imagination will stir the best in us, the best poetry, the finest art, the boldest theatre, the longest sentences, the most powerful songs,
 
 
Nothing you have done can match what the people of Mohenjo-Daro did to deal with their piss and shit, because you believe that some humans are meant to carry the shit of other humans
 
 
the longest taans to please Mallikarjun Mansur, the most haunting cinema, the finest fiction that will crush you, all these will be wrought now; each of us will defeat you by being incomprehensible to you, for to be incomprehensible to you all we need to do is speak the language of love, sing the history of love, and you will not understand a syllable or a note, and when we collect every syllable of love and compassion uttered in human history your hoarse roar of hatred will be drowned out, we will defy you by singing songs that have no beginning nor end, and by writing lines that you will never comprehend, and, thus enraged, when you try to cap these imaginations, try to ban our dreams, try to throw our bodies into jail, our spirits will soar and make love, break every taboo and breed in numbers your census-takers won’t be able to keep pace with; you will cause the spawning of a million Kabirs, a million Mantos, a million Ambedkars, a million Iqbals, Savitribais, Birsas, Meeras, Bhagat Singhs, Valluvars, Ghalibs, Sido and Kanho Murmus, and as One less hope/ becomes one more song we will defeat you with Akhmatova and Pessoa, Iyothee Thass and Jibanananda Das, Nainsukh and Malcolm X, Jangarh Shyam and Gramsci, Namdeo Dhasal and Lal Ded, Buddha and Gaddar, Marx and Lal Singh Dil, ah, yes, Dil, another chaiwallah, a teashop vendor, a Chamar from Samrala, who held the most mischievous smile between his lips that also held chain-smoked joints, Dil, who wrote, Chop off every tongue if you can/ But the words would have still been uttered, a poet who died living the revolution for himself and dreaming of it for others, a man who knew it was the same sun that warmed the Jat households that also kissed the Chamar huts, whereas we have you, a chaiwallah, claiming to be a Modh-Ghanchi from Gujarat, and it appears there are some uses for your caste that the Knickers of Nagpur have, just as the Brahmins of yore had for a Yadava, cowherd,and made him chant ominous verses to justify birth-based inequality as a prerequisite to the balance of universe, and justify the recourse to mass murder over a property dispute between cousins, the charioteer who plotted the killing of a warrior who was fixing his chariot wheel, a god who killed a great archer by hurling a rock at him, and today they need you to have a chat with us over a cup of human blood, and, to cover this barbarity, your friends have stitched you a garment called democracy which is actually a janeu fashioned by the Brahmin tailors of Nagpur.


Copyright: Manabu Ikeda | History's Rise and Fall, 2006, pen, acrylic ink on paper, mounted on board 200×200cm

They say you won a majority with a huge number of votes, they use words like magic with a total lack of imagination that might well make you believe you can write poetry, but let me tell you this to your face, you do not have the vote of any of the rivers that you may well interlink, not even the Narmada and the Ganga, you do not have the vote of the forests, the oaks, deodhars and pines of Kumaon, you do not have the vote of the kurinji flowers that once every twelve summers, for millions of years, have turned a section of the Western Ghats gregariously blue, giving the Nilgiri

 
 
Each of us will defeat you by being incomprehensible to you, for to be incomprehensible to you all we need to do is speak the language of love, sing the history of love, and you will not understand a syllable or a note
 
 
Hills its name, you do not have the mandate of the urbanised langurs of Jodhpur who wear no purple ink on their index fingers but whose tongues are purplish black after gorging on jamuns, you do not have the vote of the sparrows that have learned to survive by enclosing themselves in the Bangalore airport and by feeding off the leftovers in the restaurant, sparrows that have forgotten what a tree looks like, you do not have the vote of thousands of tulsi plants the Brahmins grow in their backyards, terraces and balconies, you do not have the votes of the cows of India nor of its buffaloes, you do not even have the vote of the lions of Gir in Gujarat, and the hilsa, that crazy fish which travels up to eight hundred miles to spawn at the place of its birth in freshwater did not vote for you, you do not have the vote of the hills of Niyamgiri nor of the corals being ripped apart along the monstrous reactors in Koodankulam, you do not have the vote of the thousands of cockroaches that hide in the wet corners of parliament and plan to unleash terror, just as the vote of the millions of acorns it takes to make for the varieties of oaks in the foothills of Himalayas eludes you; the reserves of coal being hollowed out of Jharia’s earth, the mines of uranium that have depleted Jaduguda, the radioactive thorium glistening on the beach-sands of Kerala, none of them even knows of your existence; you do not have the vote of the un-censused population of the harsinghars that makes Delhi’s pollution bearable every winter, you do not have the vote of the dogs or the cats, you do not have the peacocks behind you nor do you have the snakes, you do not have the vote of the olive ridley turtles, bloody infiltrators that sneak into this country through the eastern coast every winter, nor of the Siberian cranes, harbingers of crossborder militancy, and the rhinos of Kaziranga surely resent you for attributing their poaching to some devious communal scheming, and you undoubtedly do not have the vote of the carnivorous red ants of Bastar, and you do not have the vote of the most ancient chinar in Chattergam, planted by some Sufi, nor the vote of the raja mirchis of Kohima, you do not have the vote of the stars, you do not have the vote of the constellations, you do not have the vote of the milky way, you do not have the vote of the waning moon, you do not have the vote of the sun that will rise unfailingly, and, you do not have my vote.


Copyright: Manabu Ikeda. Buddha, 2000, pen, acrylic ink on paper, mounted on board 130.3×162.1cm

So please run your minority government for five years, show us your baddest face, and time which will outlive all time will say it has seen worse; launch a pincer attack, sink one set of claws into Kashmir and wage a low-intensity war with the Pakis for four years, and at the same time, sink another set of claws into Dandakaranya and flush out the Adivasis like rats, the corporates who sponsored you will fund these wars, create crisis after crisis for the Muslims, Dalits, the poor, the Adivasis, criminalise all love, fight internal and external enemies, and in the fifth year launch a few full-scale wars, take us to the edge of a nuclear disaster and starvation, watch the southern tip of the subcontinent melt as a tsunami or a quake does to Koodankulam what it did to Fukushima, then ride back to power sheerly on the strength of the number of people you have caused to disappear, and stretch yourself for another three years, then maybe press the emergency button, by when, like any speck of dirt you will be sucked into the widening gyre that keeps turning and turning.

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