July 03, 2020
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Lit Crit

The Roads Not Taken

Predictably, we have a new, well, poetic offering from the outgoing prime minister. While many would undoubtedly hail it as a profound philosophical piece, perhaps it is easier to look at it as a pop-pscychologist?

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The Roads Not Taken
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The statesman had not issued any statement for a long time. Helpful press accounts suggested that the outgoing Prime Minister had been shell-shocked and was in a state of funk by the electoral verdict. My immediate thought was that we should brace ourselves for a maudlin, mediocre doggerel passed off as a kavita, that would soon of course be pronounced as a profound philosophical statement.

So it was no surprise really to come across the latest poetic offering from the outgoing PM on the front page of the Indian Express today. Somehow,  I have always been assigned the role of a pop-psychologist by the powers that be, and I was asked to quickly annotate it and offer my, well, pathetic comments. 

What follows is just a slightly different transliterated version of the, well, poem in The Indian Express, and its English translations that has been slightly modified by me to reflect the meaning a bit better: 

raah kaun sii jaauun maiN?
chauraahe par luuTtaa chir,
pyaade se piT gayaa wazir,
chaluun aakhirii chaal ki baazi chhoR virakti rachauun maiN?
raah kaun sii jaauun maiN?

sapna janmaa aur mar gayaa,
madhu ritu mein hii baagh jhaR gayaa,
tinke bikhre hue batoruuN yaaN nav srishtii sajauuN maiN?
raah kaun sii jaauun maiN?

do din mile udhaar meiN,
ghaate ke vyaapaar meiN,
kshan-kshan kaa hisaab joRuun yaaN puunjii sesh luuTaauuN maiN?
raah kaun sii jaauun maiN?


What Path Should I Follow?
Honour lost at crossroads,
Queen defeated by pawn:
Do I make my final move, or do I withdraw from battle?
What path should I follow?

A dream was born, and died,
The garden dried up in the season of spring:
Do I gather these scattered leaves, or do I fashion a new universe?
What path should I follow?

Two days, on loan, is all I’ve earned
In a bargain of loss:
Do I take stock of each moment, or do I squander what little remains?
What path should I follow?

Comments

This time I refuse to even offer even my usual hurried (and pathetic) annotations as it would take far too long, apart of course from pointing out that the hubris of the line "pyaade se piT gayaa wazir" does make one wonder some.

And as for path to take? Oh well, perhaps the high road of honesty would be a good beginning? How about admitting that you were weak, Prime Minister, and did not do your raj dharma? Perhaps it would be better to reflect on the roads not taken?

The road you could have taken when you had the opportunity to sack Modi not just post-riots but at least now when the SC verdict on the Best Bakery came out.

The road not taken when you didn't show up till much after in Gujarat instead of parking yourself there and asking for the fires to be doused?

The road not taken when in Goa you asked who lit the fire without first having extinguished it.

The road not taken when you did not have the grace to tell the nation that it was up to the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi to decide whether she wanted to be the PM.

The road not taken when after the electoral defeat, you could have spoken out against the dirty campaign started by your Swarajist followers who would do Joseph Goebbels proud.

If you taken even the last road, Prime Minister, perhaps you wouldn't have had to worry about the road to take now. But your silence in this whole sorry episode--when your followers spammed the press and spread false stories about the President having asked Sonia Gandhi some pointed questions about the Citizenship Act, reproduced in some of the "sympathetic" publications-- has been deafening.

Where is the pop-psychology in all this, you ask? Oh well, I leave it for all of you out there. Please spare me -- I just wanted to do a pathetic political piece, so please do let us have your semiotic observations and pop-psychological motivations that might have prompted (not this piece) this poem.

P.S. Helpful friends more au courant with the ex-PM's oeuvre inform me that actually it is an old poem that was recited by the ex-Pm to the Indian Express journalist. I maintain that his choice of even an old poem is very telling indeed. So I have decided to not let that minor detail change any of my above random musings.

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