Monday, May 10, 2010

"Maara dil ma dhadke Gujarat!"

As a writer, one spends a lifetime journeying into the heart of language, trying to minimize if not eliminate the distance between language and thought. 'Language is the skin on my thought'.
From the essay Power Politics – Arundhati Roy
Ok, so this post has to get me the maximum ire from readers. I am ready.  One of my senior colleagues once labeled me as a left wing ‘terrorist’ because I opposed Modi's politics on a public forum. The senior conveniently lives in a country that has most recently witnessed maximum racial attacks, and neither have I seen him coming out in support of his fellow countrymen nor have I heard his opinion on the barbaric attacks. It’s amazing what kind of double lives we live in this modern (complicated) world. Consistency in shallowness. A Shiv Sena opposes Sachin Tendulkar's statement, so he goes to the MNS' Maharashtra Day function and accepts a golden sword. Take that, from your popular icon! Why are popular figures asked to take a stance. And even if asked, why do they have to take one?. Amitabh Bachchan going to Modi and suddenly giving a new "kahaani mei twist" to the whole political scenario. No one denies in participating for the celebrations for a Gujarat Day or Maharashtra Day. But why associate with MNS or BJP?

On the occassion of celebrating 50 years of the state of Gujarat, A R Rahman has composed a song (like an anthem for the state) "Jai Jai garvi gujarat..." Hear the song here.

The song is so brilliant that for a moment my hard lined-hurting Gujarati heart warmed up to the thought of belonging to this wonderful state Gujarat. Music lingers on long enough to heal from within.
The A R Rahman anthem begins with
 "Dhanya hu thai gayo, ahi janm chhe maaro thayo..."

What an amazing way to put forward a simple thought. After all, this is where I was born. This is where I did my part-schooling and my graduation. This is where I found my calling and this is where I belong ultimately. I am sure any NRI Gujarati hearing this song, will feel as emotional as the soccer players feel while the national anthem plays on the ground on the eve of Finals before the huge crowd. The language of the song: both music and the lyrics are so very Gujarati. It reminds me of how I so love talking in my mother tongue, Gujarati. I always talk in Gujarati whenever I come across a fellow Gujarati. The emotions, the tone, the expression, the words get a new high when I speak in my language. I feel my laughter is more free-flowing, when I laugh in Gujarati. Yeah. even laughter has a language. I even love the abuses that are original gujarati style, invented right there.

My favourite line from the song:
"mane phoolon jetlo parseva thhi pyaar..."
(i love the smell of the sweat like the fragrance of a flower)

Brilliant! never has the enterpreuer inside a Gujarati symbolized in such a perfect manner. Blame it on my lack of reading good Gujarati literature. But this simple line is beautiful. Thats what so many friends of mine whose parents migrated from their states to Gujarat tell me: "you know hardik, If we as a community are told to stand on the street and sell potatoes or sell toys, we wont do it, we would rather take a job of a security guard outside the posh building or a peon in a swanky office, coz thats what we seek in life: stability. whereas a Gujarati wont mind stepping on the street and getting burnt in the scorched heat and manage to make an earning out of it. Forget making money, he/she will double it in a few days. A Gujarati is not in this world to survive but thrive, is how he/she will explain you their philosophy. Thats what makes us different. "dhandha maate koi sharam nai rakhwaani". That is one thing I borrow abundantly from my community.

But deep down, as a poetic Gujarati would put: "yaadon ne jo vaagoliye..the murky history comes floating up. And then being into the 'sane' side of things, the thought of Gujarat and Modi brings with it the ghosts of its gruesome communal background and a reminder that the man in power is probably not meant to be there. Yes. I can hear your counter reactions. Oh have you already closed the page or have started hurling abuses. "these bloggers do not know anything, just because Internet has given them space, they think they can write anything. Narendra bhai has worked very hard to bring glory to the state of Gujarat".

Well, when viewed through the myopic glasses of the urban middle class, Gujarat surely is a state that has done wonders for itself. And what better example can history give: Tata Nano the middle class dream went to Gujarat! An NRI sitting seven seas away and romanticizing about his childhood Gujarat and how it has now changed is bound to give credit to Modi and will be up in arms any moment if someone dares oppose him. Now its very interesting to see the dimension that an NRI Gujarati speaks of. Just because they are away and miss their native land, doesn't mean that the land misses them as much. While drinking beer on the other side of the world they surf government websites, read email forwards about the statistics and the % growth and hear 'only' good things about the state and when they do visit once in two years, they drive along the Expressway and think wow, all is well in my motherland.

The year 2002 - the very year that took away my state from me. A year if only I could erase from the annals of history. But no it cant be undone so easily. I was 19 then, in my most prime youth. Modi returned back with a thumping victory, even after all that he did. But the world moved on...Neither of us had lost any near or dear ones so who cares, those were 'the lives of others'. ***Estimates say: 2000 citizens systematically killed and 1,50,000 driven out of their homes (should i be afraid to say that most of them happened to be Muslims) 288 people were booked by the police under POTA (now the irony that one feels like laughing - 287 muslims and 1 sikh! ) 240 dargahs and 180 masjids were brought down. Women were gang-raped and parents were massacred in front of their kids. With all due respects to the 57 people that got charred in the Sabarmati Train, but the incident still remains a mystery. Only if I could edit this paragraph out of my write up?

Maybe I would have never felt as worthless if the genocide would have happened in an another era, like my counterparts in Delhi, I haven't heard them ever or seen them as ashamed for the anti-sikh carnage (maybe), coz she/he was hardly born or was a toddler and has only grown up on the stories of 1984, but this 2002 was before our eyes., during our prime youth, during the time minds change and beliefs are formed and maybe thats why it has affected my imagination and how. It has painted a picture of a country that is very very volatile! A country so fragile that you would fret your kids to grow up. Where should I go from here. Maybe earn enough, get out of this rat-race and see my kids growing up in a very small town that is hardly visible on the map. But then the claws of a dreaded animal called globalization will surely catch us. And Internet is its biggest example.

Epilogue: In the 'intellectual' Delhi circuit of post 2002, I was so afraid to speak out that I am from Gujarat. All due to you Mr. Modi and your recent history. The thought that everyone will give me a second look, I was so afraid. Not for that, but for the simple reason that I cannot see my motherland in my dreams as pure as it would have been - FOR THAT I will always blame you. Its only for that one reason I would never ever be able to forgive you.

"manne garv chhe ke hun gujarati chhu, pan haqeekat ni upar paato maari ne besi nai shakun jindagi bhar." (Don't feel like translating!)

Please don't mind the random structure and language of this post. Couldn't proofread given the topic!

*** if anyone has a doubt over the reference and the numbers written here, they are free to contact. will produce the required documents.

P.S: have written this hearing this. One of the most haunting themes I have come across. Can do wonders to writing at night. Needless to say comes from Coen Brothers.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta


Haruko said...

good one hardik ...

I feel as proud of Gujarat and equally ashamed of 2002 as you do but if it helps .. in 2002 two of my cousins married muslims- Nagar girls from Ahemadabad married muslim boys during the height of communal unrest ...

Vish2bnice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vish2bnice said...

A lot of people were disgusted by the vulgar celebrations of Swarnim Gujarat. The state govt. and NaMo enthusiasts wasted a lot of money in lightening up the buildings! People have started to know that the state govt. is a big black hole in the pocket, thanks to NaMo's empire of covert corruption!

Saumil Patel said...

This is a decent post, Hardik.

My only reaction, and this comes from being equally privy to the "intellectual" Delhi (and elsewhere) circuits as well as the hard-core VHPs .. is very simply, difference in perspectives.

You have decided to NOT forgive and forget. Others, especially the local Gujjus, progressive entrepreneurs and industrialists, have decided to do just the opposite.

I am no way supporting or even forgiving what happened in our state, but I feel if Modi had to be elected again and rise back to power to do what he has done for the state, that carnage was something that he had to approve.

We can never understand the kind of pressure, especially religious pressure in a country like India, a person sitting in the seat of Modi has to bear. Again, this isn't a defence against the guy but my perspective.

Lastly, stats published in the Media would be the last thing I would relate to. If you would want to see some pro-Modi stuff, just go to

Also, if the man was so anti-Muslim and violent, you would not see a progressing state, but a few more Godhras. A very simple example is the USA .. which has constantly been shifting attention from Iraq to Afghanistan to god know's what next!

What Modi did was wrong, very wrong but I believe he is doing everything to be remembered as a progressive leader -- and if you were to ask me -- I would give him that chance.

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