Revolutions that are still unpaid for: On reading 1984 and Kaifi Aazmi, together.

“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

Sept. 19, 2010, sometime near the clock reached 1pm

A reader, reading a text is a unique phenomenon. That is, there is no other equal for this act of reading a particular piece by an individual followed by and preceded by some other text or sensory experience. For example, this morning I finished reading Orwell’s masterpiece ‘1984’. But last evening, while I was coming to the book’s end and while my mind was already abuzz with a lot of ‘doublethink’, I was craving to read some poetry also. While going through a number of volumes in my collection, I picked up the collected works of Kaifi Aazmi titled ‘Sarmaya’. By the time I completed ‘1984’, I also went through more than half the verses of this collection.

In other words, what I meant by my opening statement was that, I’m sure I’m the only person in the world who has read or started reading ‘1984’ after reading the poetry of Faiz and Gulzar; and ended it while reading Kaifi sahab’s poetry. And this is what makes my reading 1984 (or any other text) a truly unique phenomenon.

Same is the case with any reader who picks up a book, following and preceding any experience that only s/he could have had. So any poem, novel, play, essay does not remain what was written by the author. Every reader brings a part of him or her to the table. What was written by the author continuously changes shape, color, texture, and intensity as per that individual reader’s past and future experiences.

Reading Kaifi Aazmi with 1984 was rare even by these unique standards. While on one hand, Orwell denounces any type of oligarchy, whether socialist, nazi, or western-capitalist, Aazmi on the other hand is an avowed socialist. More than half of his book is filled with verses of/about revolution, of failures of the then current political order and of dreams of a common brotherhood.

I, on my part didn’t read much of the revolutionary verses. It is his other work, about the position of man in this hierarchical society, about Hindu-Muslim unity, and a few poems with a touch of romance was what I liked more. Kaifi the poet is disillusioned, but still hopeful of a revolution, of a better, equal world. Though I stopped myself at his disillusioned best.

Orwell, the author gives a warning, a forever timely one, that the world at any moment could slip into the hands of those few who might have more power, more control over humanity than it has ever been attempted before. He is the voice of the ‘negative utopia’, wherein the very revolution that the poet Kaifi dreams of, has dehumanized, debased, degenerated the common men and women it was supposed to raise to a better level.

Reading these two together I realized that they both are talking about the same subject, though one has dreams of a better world ‘before’ his revolution; the other has nightmares of a worsened world ‘after’ that revolution. The sad part is, that the people on whose behalf they dream or the people they want to warn, those people will always remain in the same state of affairs, whichever side the coin falls.

“कोई तो सूद चुकाए, कोई तो जिम्मा ले
उस इन्किलाब का आज तक उधार सा है”

“At least somebody step forward and pay the interest
of the revolution that is still unpaid for”

by the way, you can read this complete gazal at my other blog, here:


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