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Martyrs of the Romantic Age

Who is Gauri Lankesh? I didn’t know at all. In fact, I didn’t care to know as the hooligans of the media were already out in hordes throwing pens at their pre-determined targets. These “Not In My Name” kind of JNU certified young boys and girls radiating extreme violence under the hired cameras of the media have long compelled the right thinking people of India to surf for better TV channels. The Congress jumping in the fray made it absolutely clear that she was killed for political gains in the forthcoming elections in Karnataka. So, I chose to turn the newspaper pages for other stories, till one panegyric by an admired columnist, Chidanand Rajghatta, suddenly caught my attention. I went through his write up very seriously. In the whole mechanical and well- practiced drill of maligning some person, party or group on such occasions by professional mourners, this was the only sincere bio-sketch of a personality- an individual in her own right.

That spurred my curiosity to find out her year of birth as Rajghatta had given a good portrait of her excepting the year of birth. My curiosity was aroused as she appeared to be a familiar person. And she turned out to be one:  a baby of the Romantic Age in India, she was born in 1962. That was the period of wide spread virus of poetry, leftist ideas, anger!

In a way, it was the Age of Unskilled India.

The youth of those times wanted so many things at the same time without possessing professional skills of achieving their dreams. In fact, most of them did not even know what exactly they wanted. Except for a small section of them who went for engineering, medical or management studies, others were left to do merely “something”. Short on money but high on revolutionary ideas fed by hollow communism, they opted for poetry as a short cut to name, fame, love, income and escape from the problems of real life. Luckily for them, the traditional Indian joint family system came to their rescue, as most of these unemployed and even unemployable youth stayed at home with their parents getting free food, shelter and clothes.

They formed literary clubs or poetry recitation groups, where they would recite their creations to each other, applauding themselves liberally. The newspaper and magazine industry encouraged them to keep writing but not everyone got published or paid. Though the films like Chaudhavi Ka Chand depicted the success of just one piece so much that the heroine was impressed and won, but mostly it was chiding her for not breaking the wall of silver but a heart filled with love (chaandi ki deewar naa todi, pyar bharaa dil tod diya).

Decades of a New India were lost to such romantic ideas about life. It was a sure recipe for failures in life on many fronts, as life is a reality and rather uninspiring, whereas emotions are romantic and inspiring.

The romantics believed in themselves and claimed all rights to freedom of whatever they wanted to do or not do. Under the influence of modern ideas, they rejected religion, marriage, society, social and economic structures, traditions, customs, taboos, behavior patterns, social norms. They failed to replace any of them by a superior or sturdier architecture.

Meanwhile the world was progressing fast and India too was changing fast.

Unemployment was increasing even as new opportunities were opening- Indian industry needed skilled workers and not poets of the Kavi Sammelan or Mushiara variety (poetic symposia). And skilled work force was in short supply.

It compelled the romantic breed to reset their priorities. It also made the new generation to re-fix their priorities.

Those who could, opted for professional studies and the number of institutions to serve them grew exponentially. Others opted for politics. The still overwhelmed by romanticism thought media provided them the best employment opportunities where they could keep their conscience as they worked and earned.

The decades of the 1960s, 1970s, & 1980s were the romantics’ most successful decades, at least in one respect: love. The popularity of love on the campus prevailed most school, college and university campuses. Human behavior is not uniform anywhere in the world and differs from person to person. There were many who took love seriously and sincerely, but many thought it was a means of pre-marital affair, fun & frolicking. This was less true for girls than boys. Girls dreamt of commitment and boys mostly experimented. When affairs matured to the stage of marriage, most boys brought in their parents (their approval) in the middle or realizing the responsibilities, chickened out to safer or rewarding options like arranged marriages. Such experiences devastated many girls forever. They could never compromise on the loss of their pure emotions and adjust to new situations in life. It split them in the middle, destroying their peace of mind and happiness in life. Though life is a self-healing process, one hardly forgets injuries emotionally sustained.

Yet, it is a womanly right of every romanticized girl to be wooed, caressed, beseeched, pleased and loved, especially when she shows controlled anger, hurt, grouse or complaint (roothanaa, manaanaa). It is easy to kill these emotions but then it kills the real woman in her.

Many romantics grew with such lovely ideas of romance and romanticism, aided by the poets like Keats and Wordsworth. The writers in Indian languages not only followed them but copied them. Those decades produced a valuable quantity of literature in Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati and other Indian languages.

A reference to the prevailing environment in India was necessary to understand a personality like Gauri Lankesh. Born to a poet and dramatist father, she grew among rationalists, poets, leftists and revolutionaries. She developed literary tastes in such a family environment. True to the norms of her Age, she fell in love with someone and the courtship continued for long till it was solemnized in marriage. True again to the Age, her marriage ended up in divorce in about 5 years. One good thing of modernity is the emergence of the modern woman- confident, qualified, self-reliant. She outlived her divorce. But did it break her? Outwardly, no. The inward story only the individual knows.

But, the span of life proves one point clearly: there is no opportunity to make good some losses. One can’t live childhood again, nor those serendipitous moments of romantic unity of emotions, souls and physical entities.

Excess of freedom ruins life forever. Either stabilize traditional marriage or love marriage but don’t go on experimenting. There is a limit to free experiments, gay marriage ideas have reached them already.

Life is not to be wasted on irrational ideas of the rationalists or hollow leftist movements that don’t survive even 5 years or tilting at the windmills or charging at distant enemies for a moment of glory in the media whose business is to increase profits without any considerations of rectitude or fair industry practices.

The best tribute to Gauri would be to save the youth of India from getting trapped by political ideologies, acquire skills, be productive members of the nation and contribute to the GDP appreciably.

The political fraternity-Congress, leftists etc.-would better leave her in peace. The law is there to take care of it all as it has always in every other case. Don’t try to cash her assassination for mean political gains.

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