Kuchh Baked Kavitayein

Working in the hotels in the Sales and Marketing department, I had attended lot of corporate, art and social events. Going for these, meeting people, taking their business cards, networking and making contacts is what most of these events were about. We just did it as a part of work which we did not like but could not avoid.
Now after years, a friend Monalisa Mukherji invited me for her book launch, a collection of poems written in Hindi.  I was awe struck with the warmth and genuine feel of the space at the venue "Title Waves". These were not people hired by the publicist to welcome you and shove food down your throat. They were real people just like the Kavita written by Mona. No pretense in the launch anywhere.

The guest list included Imtiaz Ali, Irshad Kamil and Mita Vashisht. Ritika Sahni who is a friend, singer and runs an NGO called Trinayani, introduced everyone and one could never guess who she was talking about. She had warmth and ease with the guests and the people. This was not a twenty something MC with bright clothes and brighter make up and a loud voice. Ritika was all  gracious grand hostess who knows her guests well and  has this subtle charm and control over her drawing room. She was not even the Fab India Khadi type of female lib woman, who looks down at mere mortals.

Irshad Kamil started his speech by  how the British ruled us and damaged our country. And the worst damage they did to us was that they took away our language. The loss of language is a big dent to the social fabric of the nation. This was being said by an Indian not a Hindu or a Muslim. Ever since BJP has come to power, I see all the intellectuals spewing venom at anything Hindu, Hindi or Indian. This whole mindset of criticising India comes from the language English which we all have studied in. We still believe the history which the British told us where they declared themselves as winners. Where they said India was always a fragmented nation full of all social evils and how the British abolished that for us. They refused to appreciate our unity in diversity. The intellectuals are scared that our British run syllabus will be changed. Bachi Karkaria and her journalist brethren actually talked about the rise of the HMTs or the Hindi Medium types in this government.They will never want to believe Veer Savarkar's view point of our Nation. They will never appreciate the introduction of Sanskrit in oath taking or in schools.
Macaulay, who was sent by the then queen of Britain to do research on how they can conquer India, actually said we have to take away their language. "Macaulayism" is the conscious policy of liquidating indigenous culture through the planned substitution of the alien culture of colonising power via the education system. He is instrumental in the introduction of English as medium of instruction in the higher education in India in the early nineteenth century.

Mita Vashisth is a film, theatre and TV actress. She said, some years back when she was learning theatre and voice in London and the teacher told her that the way countries defeat other countries is by snatching their language. If you take away the language from a country, it is very easy to conquer it.  When Hindi was made the national language, there was uproar in south India. People sleep and wake up with their mother tongue. Snatching that is like ripping away the childhood.
Nelson Mandela said he could live the years in prison because he had a happy childhood.

Sagar Sarhadi is a writer who has written films like Kabhi Kabhi and Silsila. I need not say more. He said that one can't read newspapers in today's world with all the depressing news. He said if a man reads the full paper, he will be half dead or 'adhmaraa' as they say in Hindi. In this kind of chaos, to create poetry in Hindi with its bits of studied languages, is so wonderful.

Imtiaz Ali, the director who has made films like 'Highway' and 'Jab we met'. He read the last and the first poem and allowed Mona's words to do the talking and expressing.

Mona's poems are about truth and hope. There is pain and sadness but there is a complete connect with the mother Earth. Mona is multi lingual and  still there is a pride in her Matru bhasha/ Rashtra bhasha or National language. There is no hiding away from the fact that she has grown up on English education. The Indian ethos are intact and very visible in the family. The supportive husband and child, which allows for a woman to be fully self expressed and the partnering was there for all to see. The growth she experiences as India,  Mother India and a daughter of India, is all there in her poems.

I am still wondering how can a book launch be patriotic, apolitical and full of love and warmth? 


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