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Murder of Marx
by Giriraj Kiradoo Bookmark and Share
 

Based on what Mohit Aggarwal told to Giriraj Kiradoo

1

He was unusually sad. Unusual was the way in which he was sad as to find him sad was not unusual at all. In those days, he was one of those artists who believe an artist, a modern artist has to have an eternally gloomy face. Sadness was his persona, his modernist mask, the ultimate signifier of his modernity and he as an artist and as a person was always the perfect signified. Being truly modern is no fun, he often reminded others and oftener to himself. His very 'private' concept of modernism told him that art should not resemble life, but life should resemble art. He was always his self-image. He was what he painted and the characters he painted were fictional because they resembled him and whenever I entered his studio I found so many sad Dheeraj Benjamins lost in themselves but lost so im

1

He was unusually sad. Unusual was the way in which he was sad as to find him sad was not unusual at all. In those days, he was one of those artists who believe an artist, a modern artist has to have an eternally gloomy face. Sadness was his persona, his modernist mask, the ultimate signifier of his modernity and he as an artist and as a person was always the perfect signified. Being truly modern is no fun, he often reminded others and oftener to himself. His very 'private' concept of modernism told him that art should not resemble life, but life should resemble art. He was always his self-image. He was what he painted and the characters he painted were fictional because they resembled him and whenever I entered his studio I found so many sad Dheeraj Benjamins lost in themselves but lost so imposingly that the moment I would enter his studio a terribly profound sadness would seduce and seize me.

But three days prior to the Christmas, on a very regular winter day, it was a different, unknown sadness and it reminded me the day I first saw him.

2

He was doing his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and my cousin introduced us. She was two years his junior at their college in Kota. I didn't take him seriously and thought that he must be making some very real-like landscapes with the fascinating Chambal flowing zigzag across the canvas or some imaginary tigers horrifying a few moghulis. But within a few seconds he was describing his latest 'creation', Fucault’s Pendulum. I was almost shocked and it was the moment I first experienced his terrifying sadness. 'Did your Fucault invented pendulum?’ I tried to blast the grave sadness. I prayed he would laugh at me but he grew more solemn and sadder. 'It's a novel by an Italian and Fucault discovered something more valuable than anybody ever did in Mechanics,' he was explaining in a serious tone and seemed to be very confident of my pitiable ignorance. I knew from that very moment he was incapable to understand any thing so obviously humorous, yes, I knew he could never laugh nor could survive a laughter, and yes, I knew his sadness would terrify and seduce me.

Soon, I had lost all my friends and foes and Dheeraj Benjamin was the only person I desired to see. I longed to be taken over.

3

He wore his brilliant, designer sadness most enviably on the morning his first solo exhibition opened at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur. I had been taken over and I wrote his brochure. I remember walking up to Anshu in her pink pullover, sitting forlorn on the grass outside. She asked in a dry tone, 'Did you see us?'

'Did his awful sadness seduce you?' I tried to combat the dryness of her tone.
'He and sadness! Awful sadness! Bhole Bhaiya, he's the funniest person I ever knew.' Anshu broke into a laughter that steered the grass and I realized his sadness was terrible only because it was laughable. Anshu took me inside and pointed her finger towards Dheeraj Benjamin who was explaining his The Phenomenology of Eroticism to a young art student who was to become his wife a year later. She was christened Shabnam Shergill that very moment when Anshu, with her finger still pointed at him, broke into a louder laughter.

The laughter hit the iron shield of sadness and boomeranged. Anshu decided to leave her studies, her Bhujia khandan and town, her Kadinsky and said yes to a Calcutta-based Marvari suitor, arranged by her Buaji, only because he dealt in softwares. A year later, when she gave birth to the first of her three daughters, she e-mailed me asking a name for the child and wrote at the bottom of the page:

'Who is/was Kadinsky anyway?'
'Kadinsky was the one I saw with you. Now he is Haider Hussain.'
'Call her Amrita (not Shergill but Pritham).'

4

Anshu Akhmatova was sitting on my writing table with her legs spread wide. He was stroking hard and I, standing at window, watched how my little apartment was turned into a big bedroom, how my ever-so-innocent-faced cousin Anshumita Aggarwal dubbed Anshu Akhmatova by her genius Kadinsky had the courage to use me for her erotic adventure and more surprisingly how playful Anshu could get with him. I was facing Anshu and could see his body rather awkwardly adjusting as Anshu whispered something or other. Watching from behind, his body seemed prosaic but I wanted to see his face. I rushed to the opposite windows and as his face, more prosaic than his body, appeared closer with a stroke; I stumbled and with a disturbing noise fell to the ground.

With a funeral face he was making love to my dear, innocent cousin. 'Its only a cat,' he said with an unbearably elegiac firmness and stroked even harder. He had seen me.

5

In the Paris of August 1844, a twenty six year old German revolutionary, after being forced to leave journalism, met a factory owner from Manchester. By the end of the autumn they had co-authored a book which challenged Hegel and his intellectual sons; the German himself was one of them and so the book was not just patricide, it was also a self-murder. The passionate German bisected his father; half of him he buried and the other half became his own reincarnated self. Four years later the two friends took part in revolutions in Germany and France. You know them. They were Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. If you don't know them, come and see MaRkS aNd AnGeLs: A cHiLd'S rEvOlUtIoNs series in Shri Ratan Prasad Aggarwal's private collection. Ratan Tauji is Anshu's father and he was sold this masterpiece in Rs. fifty thousand. Dheeraj Haider Hussain, as a child, heard the names of great Marx and Engels long before he saw them written on their wonderful books. As a child Marx was Marks and Engels was Angels for him. So in this masterpiece which 'deals with the infant stage of the great dialectical materialism', the poor Bruno Bauer and Co. is a bunch of malnutritioned children knocked out by the two bullies and a bleeding, bisected Hegel resembles a martyred knight. Ratan Tauji had never bought a modern painting and because he paid fifty thousand he started believing that a modern art is a really valuable thing and is there any other Bhujia Exporter who can boast of having such an art?

Dheeraj Benjamin deserted Anshu Akhmatova and married a Shabnam Usta but MaRkS aNd AnGeLs: A cHiLd'S rEvOlUtIoNs is hung proudly in Ratan Tauji's bedroom.

6

I had forgiven him and Anshu for everything but dragging Anna Akhmatova's dear, holy name in their mundane affair though it was the time I was calling my girlfriend Manisha Tsvetayeva and it was not a sublime affair either.

7

I confess I could never understand modern painting. For me it existed in theory, in those borrowed histories I read so passionately and painstakingly during my college days when I was expected to become an economist or at least a lecturer in Economics and I read Marx only as an 'important' question they always asked in those 'set' papers. Even then, Marx confused and seduced and his name still- under a Postsoviet sky- had the authority to certify anybody as modern and progressive. Marx made me Marxist. Not by his confusing books but by his sad, bearded face reproduced so unaesthetically (I doubt the publisher hated Formalism) in our course books. In those days I often compared the mystic attributes of Tagore's face with the scientific sadness on his immortal face. But Dheeraj Benjamin was a self-trained modernist and it was a beautiful irony that I wrote his brochures without ever understanding what he painted and without ever confronting him. Later when I secretly became a post-modern and had found the same sadness inscribed on faces like Derrida's and Lacan's, Dheeraj Benjamin was rediscovering Dadaism and Cubism. Away from him, he was laughable but when staring at me he was still my master and his face still had that authoritative sadness. Away from him I was playful but before him, my General Secretary, a charmed comrade waiting for next orders.

And then, in the heydays of my secret postmodernism, he came with a gifted bottle of vodka and scorned, 'You are living in a present which has already become a past. Your Derrida lied to all and now he is confessing it. I always warned you Marx is the only future.' He handed me a speech but before reading it I knew I had lost both, my Marx and my Derrida. Dheeraj is stronger than both of them.

At his ambitious first in Bombay, I rewrote, reconstructed Dheeraj Benjamin and yes, I found he was always a very devoted Marxist and I nothing but a dispensable pawn, not even that, but only a shit, a poor, colonized hindi kavi born to a Bhujia manufacturer and prone to all forms of sadness. I confess I could never understand Marxist paintings as well and I was there in Bombay only to see his art studio and its caretaker Shabnam Usta whose father dealt in Jaipuri handicrafts.

8

When Upanyas Samrat Munshi Prem Chand presided over the Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh's Sammelan and declared that literature is a torch, I doubt he knew anything about the patricide and self-murder commited in 1844, I doubt he ever read the Das Capital or any of those confusing treatises by Marx and Engels, but he knew one thing: it was essential to be Progressive, from top to toe. And he was right. Mahakavi Nirala and Komalkant Pant were latecomers. They came unreserved and had to sit on the roof of the train to Future. Hindi's literary Marxism is in fact a story determined by these two classic conversions. Did Pant or Nirala know the poor Bruno Bauer and Co.?

9

With Amrita and Vasantpriya (her second daughter with a name suggested by me again), Anshu Pugalia knocked that very apartment of mine. She looked fat, and contended. I thought this place still meant something for her and I will witness her searching for something over the writing table, on the floor and beyond that window. But she was sitting as if she had come there for the first time. In saree, she reminded me of Manisha Tsvetayeva, not of Anshu Akhmatova. Manisha had a body that Anshu now had and Anshu had a saree that Manisha then had. Ignited by this discovery, I went closer to Anshu and started kissing her. She looked shocked but allowed me to do it.

At midnight I received an SMS: u did it as Kadinsky did.

10

I had published two collections of progressive poetry and the evening I was receiving the Muktibodh Samman, Shabnam rang me and insisted I should come to Bombay. After promising her to come, I returned to deliver my speech. I said, 'Muktibodh is my father but I am a poor son.' And I said what I felt and survived superstar Namvar Singh's humor, 'In independent India there has never been harmony between fathers and sons. And the greatest example is of the super father- Bapu- and his sons- the Gandhians.' Back in my Bhujia town, I decided to abort my secret, hideous affair with Derrida and Co., the unholy family.

11

It was an ordinary room with no writing table, but full of books.' You won't survive this', this is how Anshu remarked at my new place. This was the only sentence we exchanged that afternoon. Silence-the shy, rare and almost lost goddess- obliged us. I was weeping when she stepped in and on an iron khat, with tears in my eyes and fear in hers, we made love. Late in the evening she SMSed me: you did it as I did it to Kadinsky.

12

The month, between the day I witnessed Dheeraj Benjamin’s unusual sadness in Bombay and the day I declared publicly that Muktiboth was my father, changed my life, I believe, forever. I read that speech- The Spectres of Marx- Dheeraj had handed me so scornfully, I realized that my attempts at declassing myself were romantic and I was still an unaltered bourgeois, I left the apartment I inherited from my great Dadaji -the pioneer of modern Bhujia industry -and most importantly I felt, as Raghuveer Sahay did, that when there is more art, there is less change. I knew Raghuveer Sahay only echoed Marx: when there is more philosophy, there is less change. To change the world Marx changed the philosophy. To change India, a bourgeois democracy, Raghuveer Sahay changed hindi poetry. To change myself I rediscovered Marx. I managed to find my old course book and that damp, withered face of his looked sadder and I was weeping when Anshu Pugalia knocked.

13

In his preface to Muktibodh's posthumously published first collection of poems, legendary Shamsher never calls him a Marxist though very casually, and only once, he mentions that Muktibodh picked Marxist philosophy out of the Progressivism. But in the same line he declares that Muktiboth transcended all isms and all parties. This declaration was obvious for a man who himself championed this transcendence. But it is striking that, in his valuation of Shamsher, Muktibodh never calls him Marxist either. This coincidence is stranger than it seems, as both call each other humanist. What is the mystery? Who is a humanist? I have always resisted, not because of any learnt problem but because I have always found it abstract, this term- humanism- but when Shamser calls Muktibodh a humanist, it becomes a new word. Who is a humanist? If any proper noun can ever be offered as an answer to this question, it is Shabnam Usta.

14

I often imagine Muktibodh as a Private Detective; not a spy but a private detective.In his diary he often speaks of poets playing a certain role, wearing a mask, making a well disguised appearance in their writing. So its no surprise for Muktiboth when a person with a bourgeois lifestyle wears a progressive countenance in his or her poetry. Muktibodh detected me as such a player, a bourgeois bohemian. Had I not read him, I would have remained my determined, obvious persona. He stripped me off my mask but while doing it he obliged me to see his own. In his poetry, he wore the mask of a Private Detective. But who hired him? His consciousness? His striving for his Param Abhivyakti Durnivar? No. Marx, his spectre, hired him. Muktibodh was not a reviewer of modern civilization but a hired private detective. He did not imagine this modern civilization as a universe but as a diverse – tooti hui bikhari hui –rhythm, system formed of fragmented units, the classes. His Andhere Mein, the magnum opus of a PD, is a marchpast of these classes further fragmented into types and individuals. I know I am one of those walking in darkness. Muktibodh had seen me. I fear he had no torch in his hands, he himself was walking along me in the darkness, hiding his face, his ID card and his camera. The only thing alit was the beedi in his mouth.

15

It has been a long time since Shabnam painted anything. She seems to have forgotten her days at Jaipur School of Arts just as most of us forget our BAs and BScs. Her regular, almost punctual calls always kept me in touch with her little family. They named their son Gautam. Once she sent me a portrait of a two year old Gautam. That is the only thing she has painted since her marriage. In his portrait, Gautam smiles at onlookers and that's the only thing he has inherited from his mother otherwise he is a replica of his father. He has no traces of that fabulous sadness that seduced his mother and me. When I first saw him in real, a year later, he was a replica of his portrait. 'Tumhara hi naam Gautam hai na?’ I asked him with my eyes fixed at his mother. He didn't reply. After a few seconds Shabnam said in a frozen voice, 'He can not speak nor can he listen.' I looked, for the first time, at the boy. He was smiling as he did in his portrait.

16

We were victims of proper nouns, of great, authoritative names. Dheeraj, Anshu, her daughters, Shabnam, Gautam, Manisha and me, we all had names but had a greater namelessness. We wore great names like Kadinskys and Shergills as our namelessness wore us. We didn't parody them. We only wore their names. Anshu never read Anna Akhmatova, Manisha never knew Tsevetayeva. Amrita, Vasantpriya, Kishori (Anshu's third daughter) and Gautam could never have the slighest idea of what their names echoed. In fact Dheeraj, Shabnam and I were the only conscious players. When Shabnam received me at the Dadar railway station she called me Muktibodh. She would never know what it is to be a Muktibodh but she uttered this name with a deliberately visible disgust. No, it was not because she had any grudge for Marxism or Muktibodh. It was a deepsettled feeling for all hindi kavis and lekhaks. She thought they were all sentimental and unbearably ignorant and that there was nothing original in hindi since Kabir and Meera.

While driving back home, she informed, 'I am leaving Dheeraj.'

17

I couldn't recognize Dheeraj Benjamin.He wore a new look: a clean-shaven head and a long, dark brown cloak. I thought he was entering that necessary spiritual phase of his career, which often characterizes the graph of bourgeois intellectualism. I found it amusing because I had predicted it for him. He then had advised me to read Plekhanov on the religious seekers in Russia, particularly Tolstoy and Gorky. For me it was even a news that except revolution or socialism Gorky had anything to seek. I did obey Dheeraj and did seek Plekhanov.

Now, finally, you are absolutely original. Hindustani painter ka dadhiyal hona bhi ek modernist ritual hai.' As always, he didn't listen to my humor and with that unknown, different sadness I mentioned at the beginning he made the most laughable presentation of his solid seriousness, ' I am a Dalit and I have decided to be one.'

'But you always knew you were a Dalit. It shouldn't be anything new.' I wanted to burst with laughter.

'No. Its a Revelation.' The additional, emphatic sadness he attached to the dramatic word 'Revelation' was ridiculously serious and to avoid any fruitless confrontation I pressed my mobile's ring tones option and excused myself out of the room. His sadness on that day, three days prior to the Christmas, was exceptional and unusual because it had found its proper other, the ridiculousness.

For me it was the moment of independence from an eight year long spell. I went to the other room, packed my belongings and said good bye to Gautam who in reply smiled as he always did. I was to know later that Shabnam had witnessed the whole farce from an overhead window.

18

I am leaving for Calcutta this afternoon. Before Anshu came up with this proposal, I had no idea that Durga Aggarwal, the editor of Party's literature annual and a Rajya Sabha member, was one of Anshu's five jethanis though I did know that the great and only Jankavi of the Bhujia town, Karmeshji, is her father.

(19)

Twenty minutes before the Jodhpur-Howrah left the Delhi Junction; I was staring at two photographs in an English daily. One showed Dheeraj with a clean-shaven head, in a long brown choga and the other reproduced his Murder of Marx from an ongoing group show in the capital. As I have already confessed, I could never understand whatever he painted and I did not understand this one either. And anyway it was too abstract for me. I concentrated on Dheeraj's picture. A stern political sadness. I waited to see if it could resume its spell. I really gave it one, final opportunity to overwhelm me. But when it didn't, I spread my poori-sabjee over it and broke into a laughter louder than that of Anshu Akhmatova.  

posingly that the moment I would enter his studio a terribly profound sadness would seduce and seize me.

But three days prior to the Christmas, on a very regular winter day, it was a different, unknown sadness and it reminded me the day I first saw him.

2

He was doing his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and my cousin introduced us. She was two years his junior at their college in Kota. I didn't take him seriously and thought that he must be making some very real-like landscapes with the fascinating Chambal flowing zigzag across the canvas or some imaginary tigers horrifying a few moghulis. But within a few seconds he was describing his latest 'creation', Fucault’s Pendulum. I was almost shocked and it was the moment I first experienced his terrifying sadness. 'Did your Fucault invented pendulum?’ I tried to blast the grave sadness. I prayed he would laugh at me but he grew more solemn and sadder. 'It's a novel by an Italian and Fucault discovered something more valuable than anybody ever did in Mechanics,' he was explaining in a serious tone and seemed to be very confident of my pitiable ignorance. I knew from that very moment he was incapable to understand any thing so obviously humorous, yes, I knew he could never laugh nor could survive a laughter, and yes, I knew his sadness would terrify and seduce me.

Soon, I had lost all my friends and foes and Dheeraj Benjamin was the only person I desired to see. I longed to be taken over.

3

He wore his brilliant, designer sadness most enviably on the morning his first solo exhibition opened at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur. I had been taken over and I wrote his brochure. I remember walking up to Anshu in her pink pullover, sitting forlorn on the grass outside. She asked in a dry tone, 'Did you see us?'

'Did his awful sadness seduce you?' I tried to combat the dryness of her tone.
'He and sadness! Awful sadness! Bhole Bhaiya, he's the funniest person I ever knew.' Anshu broke into a laughter that steered the grass and I realized his sadness was terrible only because it was laughable. Anshu took me inside and pointed her finger towards Dheeraj Benjamin who was explaining his The Phenomenology of Eroticism to a young art student who was to become his wife a year later. She was christened Shabnam Shergill that very moment when Anshu, with her finger still pointed at him, broke into a louder laughter.

The laughter hit the iron shield of sadness and boomeranged. Anshu decided to leave her studies, her Bhujia khandan and town, her Kadinsky and said yes to a Calcutta-based Marvari suitor, arranged by her Buaji, only because he dealt in softwares. A year later, when she gave birth to the first of her three daughters, she e-mailed me asking a name for the child and wrote at the bottom of the page:

'Who is/was Kadinsky anyway?'
'Kadinsky was the one I saw with you. Now he is Haider Hussain.'
'Call her Amrita (not Shergill but Pritham).'

4

Anshu Akhmatova was sitting on my writing table with her legs spread wide. He was stroking hard and I, standing at window, watched how my little apartment was turned into a big bedroom, how my ever-so-innocent-faced cousin Anshumita Aggarwal dubbed Anshu Akhmatova by her genius Kadinsky had the courage to use me for her erotic adventure and more surprisingly how playful Anshu could get with him. I was facing Anshu and could see his body rather awkwardly adjusting as Anshu whispered something or other. Watching from behind, his body seemed prosaic but I wanted to see his face. I rushed to the opposite windows and as his face, more prosaic than his body, appeared closer with a stroke; I stumbled and with a disturbing noise fell to the ground.

With a funeral face he was making love to my dear, innocent cousin. 'Its only a cat,' he said with an unbearably elegiac firmness and stroked even harder. He had seen me.

5

In the Paris of August 1844, a twenty six year old German revolutionary, after being forced to leave journalism, met a factory owner from Manchester. By the end of the autumn they had co-authored a book which challenged Hegel and his intellectual sons; the German himself was one of them and so the book was not just patricide, it was also a self-murder. The passionate German bisected his father; half of him he buried and the other half became his own reincarnated self. Four years later the two friends took part in revolutions in Germany and France. You know them. They were Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. If you don't know them, come and see MaRkS aNd AnGeLs: A cHiLd'S rEvOlUtIoNs series in Shri Ratan Prasad Aggarwal's private collection. Ratan Tauji is Anshu's father and he was sold this masterpiece in Rs. fifty thousand. Dheeraj Haider Hussain, as a child, heard the names of great Marx and Engels long before he saw them written on their wonderful books. As a child Marx was Marks and Engels was Angels for him. So in this masterpiece which 'deals with the infant stage of the great dialectical materialism', the poor Bruno Bauer and Co. is a bunch of malnutritioned children knocked out by the two bullies and a bleeding, bisected Hegel resembles a martyred knight. Ratan Tauji had never bought a modern painting and because he paid fifty thousand he started believing that a modern art is a really valuable thing and is there any other Bhujia Exporter who can boast of having such an art?

Dheeraj Benjamin deserted Anshu Akhmatova and married a Shabnam Usta but MaRkS aNd AnGeLs: A cHiLd'S rEvOlUtIoNs is hung proudly in Ratan Tauji's bedroom.

6

I had forgiven him and Anshu for everything but dragging Anna Akhmatova's dear, holy name in their mundane affair though it was the time I was calling my girlfriend Manisha Tsvetayeva and it was not a sublime affair either.

7

I confess I could never understand modern painting. For me it existed in theory, in those borrowed histories I read so passionately and painstakingly during my college days when I was expected to become an economist or at least a lecturer in Economics and I read Marx only as an 'important' question they always asked in those 'set' papers. Even then, Marx confused and seduced and his name still- under a Postsoviet sky- had the authority to certify anybody as modern and progressive. Marx made me Marxist. Not by his confusing books but by his sad, bearded face reproduced so unaesthetically (I doubt the publisher hated Formalism) in our course books. In those days I often compared the mystic attributes of Tagore's face with the scientific sadness on his immortal face. But Dheeraj Benjamin was a self-trained modernist and it was a beautiful irony that I wrote his brochures without ever understanding what he painted and without ever confronting him. Later when I secretly became a post-modern and had found the same sadness inscribed on faces like Derrida's and Lacan's, Dheeraj Benjamin was rediscovering Dadaism and Cubism. Away from him, he was laughable but when staring at me he was still my master and his face still had that authoritative sadness. Away from him I was playful but before him, my General Secretary, a charmed comrade waiting for next orders.

And then, in the heydays of my secret postmodernism, he came with a gifted bottle of vodka and scorned, 'You are living in a present which has already become a past. Your Derrida lied to all and now he is confessing it. I always warned you Marx is the only future.' He handed me a speech but before reading it I knew I had lost both, my Marx and my Derrida. Dheeraj is stronger than both of them.

At his ambitious first in Bombay, I rewrote, reconstructed Dheeraj Benjamin and yes, I found he was always a very devoted Marxist and I nothing but a dispensable pawn, not even that, but only a shit, a poor, colonized hindi kavi born to a Bhujia manufacturer and prone to all forms of sadness. I confess I could never understand Marxist paintings as well and I was there in Bombay only to see his art studio and its caretaker Shabnam Usta whose father dealt in Jaipuri handicrafts.

8

When Upanyas Samrat Munshi Prem Chand presided over the Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh's Sammelan and declared that literature is a torch, I doubt he knew anything about the patricide and self-murder commited in 1844, I doubt he ever read the Das Capital or any of those confusing treatises by Marx and Engels, but he knew one thing: it was essential to be Progressive, from top to toe. And he was right. Mahakavi Nirala and Komalkant Pant were latecomers. They came unreserved and had to sit on the roof of the train to Future. Hindi's literary Marxism is in fact a story determined by these two classic conversions. Did Pant or Nirala know the poor Bruno Bauer and Co.?

9

With Amrita and Vasantpriya (her second daughter with a name suggested by me again), Anshu Pugalia knocked that very apartment of mine. She looked fat, and contended. I thought this place still meant something for her and I will witness her searching for something over the writing table, on the floor and beyond that window. But she was sitting as if she had come there for the first time. In saree, she reminded me of Manisha Tsvetayeva, not of Anshu Akhmatova. Manisha had a body that Anshu now had and Anshu had a saree that Manisha then had. Ignited by this discovery, I went closer to Anshu and started kissing her. She looked shocked but allowed me to do it.

At midnight I received an SMS: u did it as Kadinsky did.

10

I had published two collections of progressive poetry and the evening I was receiving the Muktibodh Samman, Shabnam rang me and insisted I should come to Bombay. After promising her to come, I returned to deliver my speech. I said, 'Muktibodh is my father but I am a poor son.' And I said what I felt and survived superstar Namvar Singh's humor, 'In independent India there has never been harmony between fathers and sons. And the greatest example is of the super father- Bapu- and his sons- the Gandhians.' Back in my Bhujia town, I decided to abort my secret, hideous affair with Derrida and Co., the unholy family.

11

It was an ordinary room with no writing table, but full of books.' You won't survive this', this is how Anshu remarked at my new place. This was the only sentence we exchanged that afternoon. Silence-the shy, rare and almost lost goddess- obliged us. I was weeping when she stepped in and on an iron khat, with tears in my eyes and fear in hers, we made love. Late in the evening she SMSed me: you did it as I did it to Kadinsky.

12

The month, between the day I witnessed Dheeraj Benjamin’s unusual sadness in Bombay and the day I declared publicly that Muktiboth was my father, changed my life, I believe, forever. I read that speech- The Spectres of Marx- Dheeraj had handed me so scornfully, I realized that my attempts at declassing myself were romantic and I was still an unaltered bourgeois, I left the apartment I inherited from my great Dadaji -the pioneer of modern Bhujia industry -and most importantly I felt, as Raghuveer Sahay did, that when there is more art, there is less change. I knew Raghuveer Sahay only echoed Marx: when there is more philosophy, there is less change. To change the world Marx changed the philosophy. To change India, a bourgeois democracy, Raghuveer Sahay changed hindi poetry. To change myself I rediscovered Marx. I managed to find my old course book and that damp, withered face of his looked sadder and I was weeping when Anshu Pugalia knocked.

13

In his preface to Muktibodh's posthumously published first collection of poems, legendary Shamsher never calls him a Marxist though very casually, and only once, he mentions that Muktibodh picked Marxist philosophy out of the Progressivism. But in the same line he declares that Muktiboth transcended all isms and all parties. This declaration was obvious for a man who himself championed this transcendence. But it is striking that, in his valuation of Shamsher, Muktibodh never calls him Marxist either. This coincidence is stranger than it seems, as both call each other humanist. What is the mystery? Who is a humanist? I have always resisted, not because of any learnt problem but because I have always found it abstract, this term- humanism- but when Shamser calls Muktibodh a humanist, it becomes a new word. Who is a humanist? If any proper noun can ever be offered as an answer to this question, it is Shabnam Usta.

14

I often imagine Muktibodh as a Private Detective; not a spy but a private detective.In his diary he often speaks of poets playing a certain role, wearing a mask, making a well disguised appearance in their writing. So its no surprise for Muktiboth when a person with a bourgeois lifestyle wears a progressive countenance in his or her poetry. Muktibodh detected me as such a player, a bourgeois bohemian. Had I not read him, I would have remained my determined, obvious persona. He stripped me off my mask but while doing it he obliged me to see his own. In his poetry, he wore the mask of a Private Detective. But who hired him? His consciousness? His striving for his Param Abhivyakti Durnivar? No. Marx, his spectre, hired him. Muktibodh was not a reviewer of modern civilization but a hired private detective. He did not imagine this modern civilization as a universe but as a diverse – tooti hui bikhari hui –rhythm, system formed of fragmented units, the classes. His Andhere Mein, the magnum opus of a PD, is a marchpast of these classes further fragmented into types and individuals. I know I am one of those walking in darkness. Muktibodh had seen me. I fear he had no torch in his hands, he himself was walking along me in the darkness, hiding his face, his ID card and his camera. The only thing alit was the beedi in his mouth.

15

It has been a long time since Shabnam painted anything. She seems to have forgotten her days at Jaipur School of Arts just as most of us forget our BAs and BScs. Her regular, almost punctual calls always kept me in touch with her little family. They named their son Gautam. Once she sent me a portrait of a two year old Gautam. That is the only thing she has painted since her marriage. In his portrait, Gautam smiles at onlookers and that's the only thing he has inherited from his mother otherwise he is a replica of his father. He has no traces of that fabulous sadness that seduced his mother and me. When I first saw him in real, a year later, he was a replica of his portrait. 'Tumhara hi naam Gautam hai na?’ I asked him with my eyes fixed at his mother. He didn't reply. After a few seconds Shabnam said in a frozen voice, 'He can not speak nor can he listen.' I looked, for the first time, at the boy. He was smiling as he did in his portrait.

16

We were victims of proper nouns, of great, authoritative names. Dheeraj, Anshu, her daughters, Shabnam, Gautam, Manisha and me, we all had names but had a greater namelessness. We wore great names like Kadinskys and Shergills as our namelessness wore us. We didn't parody them. We only wore their names. Anshu never read Anna Akhmatova, Manisha never knew Tsevetayeva. Amrita, Vasantpriya, Kishori (Anshu's third daughter) and Gautam could never have the slighest idea of what their names echoed. In fact Dheeraj, Shabnam and I were the only conscious players. When Shabnam received me at the Dadar railway station she called me Muktibodh. She would never know what it is to be a Muktibodh but she uttered this name with a deliberately visible disgust. No, it was not because she had any grudge for Marxism or Muktibodh. It was a deepsettled feeling for all hindi kavis and lekhaks. She thought they were all sentimental and unbearably ignorant and that there was nothing original in hindi since Kabir and Meera.

While driving back home, she informed, 'I am leaving Dheeraj.'

17

I couldn't recognize Dheeraj Benjamin.He wore a new look: a clean-shaven head and a long, dark brown cloak. I thought he was entering that necessary spiritual phase of his career, which often characterizes the graph of bourgeois intellectualism. I found it amusing because I had predicted it for him. He then had advised me to read Plekhanov on the religious seekers in Russia, particularly Tolstoy and Gorky. For me it was even a news that except revolution or socialism Gorky had anything to seek. I did obey Dheeraj and did seek Plekhanov.

Now, finally, you are absolutely original. Hindustani painter ka dadhiyal hona bhi ek modernist ritual hai.' As always, he didn't listen to my humor and with that unknown, different sadness I mentioned at the beginning he made the most laughable presentation of his solid seriousness, ' I am a Dalit and I have decided to be one.'

'But you always knew you were a Dalit. It shouldn't be anything new.' I wanted to burst with laughter.

'No. Its a Revelation.' The additional, emphatic sadness he attached to the dramatic word 'Revelation' was ridiculously serious and to avoid any fruitless confrontation I pressed my mobile's ring tones option and excused myself out of the room. His sadness on that day, three days prior to the Christmas, was exceptional and unusual because it had found its proper other, the ridiculousness.

For me it was the moment of independence from an eight year long spell. I went to the other room, packed my belongings and said good bye to Gautam who in reply smiled as he always did. I was to know later that Shabnam had witnessed the whole farce from an overhead window.

18

I am leaving for Calcutta this afternoon. Before Anshu came up with this proposal, I had no idea that Durga Aggarwal, the editor of Party's literature annual and a Rajya Sabha member, was one of Anshu's five jethanis though I did know that the great and only Jankavi of the Bhujia town, Karmeshji, is her father.

(19)

Twenty minutes before the Jodhpur-Howrah left the Delhi Junction; I was staring at two photographs in an English daily. One showed Dheeraj with a clean-shaven head, in a long brown choga and the other reproduced his Murder of Marx from an ongoing group show in the capital. As I have already confessed, I could never understand whatever he painted and I did not understand this one either. And anyway it was too abstract for me. I concentrated on Dheeraj's picture. A stern political sadness. I waited to see if it could resume its spell. I really gave it one, final opportunity to overwhelm me. But when it didn't, I spread my poori-sabjee over it and broke into a laughter louder than that of Anshu Akhmatova. 

6-Mar-2005
More by :  Giriraj Kiradoo
 
Views: 1374
 
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