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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cultural Resistance in Post-colonial literature

A reading of THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY and RANGA'S MARRIAGE

These two stories prescribed for class XI are the finest examples of post-colonial resistance to westernisation.

THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
Khushwant Singh's story of the grand mother and her grandson is an attempt to showcase the transition period in India, the transition from the rural to the urban. Urbanisation, westernisation and invasion of our culture, language,science/medicine and values were undergoing a change in the British and post-British period in India. The spread of English language was one of the obvious signs of the change. One cannot abruptly conclude that the change/shift/transition was without resistance. The two dominant characters in Khushwant Singh's story represent the two ethos. The village education described in graphic detail in the story is nothing short of a microcosmic picture of the Indian ethos and Indian education system. The education system in India was never a dissociated or fragmented concept. It was always integrated with life and nature. It held that there is no point in education if it is not connected to the life and people around. The story clearly depicts how the dogs in the village (representing animals and life around)were always an integral and inseparable part of life and education. Education was mostly based on religion and spirituality where one was expected to learn greater or simpler(simply greater!)aspects of life. The children at the village school learn hymns from scriptures from the priest in the temple. Grandmother's first cultural shock is about the education her grandson receives in the city school. He is being fed upon Western ideas and language and she is just one of those who felt the deterioration of our values and life style in its intense gravity. She finds life so disintegrated in the city(stands for westernized system)where there are no dogs in the city, her grandson is given a room of his own(the western notion of "privacy" sets in family), they hardly meet each other, he repeats English words and talks about the subjects he learns, goes by bus to school etc. She realizes the gradual marginalisation of her significance in moulding his character and life. But she resists the change and the cultural conversion he and his parents have undergone in many ways: use of the spinning wheel(even today it is a symbol of our lost identity), chanting and telling the beads of the rosary, reading the scriptures and feeding the sparrows. She leads a life of resistance instead of just voicing it. In the end of the story, her resistance grows stronger when the invasion is quite obvious and aggressive on her. She spurns the words and medicines of the doctor(the western medical treatment)and devotes herself to prayer.

Khushwant Singh's grandmother,therefore, ceases to be a person and manifests the voices of resistance against cultural invasion.



RANGA'S MARRRIAGE

Masti Venkatesha Iyengar's story poignantly satirizes colonisation and cultural invasion. The first few paragraphs of the story clearly question the politics of mapping. The narrator describes his village and questions the reason for it not being displayed in any of the maps. He triggers a debate on how places find place in maps. He is proud of his village, culture, language and identity and doesn't want any one to take it for granted or impose their superiority over it. Inspite of all the English education in the city and western notions of marriage, Ranga ultimately ends up marrying a village girl in the Indian way. The narrator plays a practical joke on him using the astrologer and discovers that all the claims of Ranga about his urban and western exposure is thoroughly superficial and hasn't made even an iota of change in his psyche. English has influenced Indians as a language but not as a culture. It fails, as the story suggests,to percolate into our psyche.

Both the stories voice cultural resistance in their own unique ways and that is a clear testimony that we did have polyphonic manifestations of cultural and colonial resistance.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MEHDI HASSAN, THE LEGEND

My passion for music scaled new heights the day i listened to Mehdi Hassan sab. His inimitable and profound voice thrills me beyond measure. The first album i listened to was MEHDI HASSAN, THE LEGEND which my elder brother had gifted me in the year 2002 at New Delhi. Since then, i have been cherishing an irresistible desire to meet this great singer and touch his feet, yes, to pay obeisance to Music itself. His voice flows through veins, lights up the innermost corner of my being and fills me with joy inexplicable. I feel, our knowledge of Ghazals is indefinitely incomplete without listening to Mehdi Hassan. Here's a tribute to him and all ghazal lovers from me: I am posting here the lyrics of two songs from the album MEHDI HASSAN, THE LEGEND. If you find anything wrong with the lyrics, kindly correct me.

1. Main hosh mein tha tho phir uspe mar gaya kaise………
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise.

Kuch uske dil mein lagavat zaroor thi warna….
Wo mera haath….
Wo mera haath dabaakar guzar gaya kaise….
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise…………….(mein hosh)

Zaroor uski tavajjon….
Zaroor uski tavajjon ki rahbari hogi
Nashe mein tha
Nashe mein that to mein apne hi ghar gaya kaise…
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise…………….(mein hosh)

Jise bhulaaye kai saal ho gaye kaamil
Mein aaj uski….
Mein aaj uski gali se guzar gaya kaise……
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise…………….(mein hosh)


2. JAB BHI MAIKHANE SE PEEKAR…
Jab bhi maikhane se peekar hum chale…..
Saat lekar saikadon aalam chale………

Thak gaye phir zindagi ki raah mein……..
Hoke maikhane se thaaza dum chale…………( jab bhi)

Baad muddat ke mile hai aaj wo….
Gardishe-dauran zara magdham chale………..

Jitney gam zalim zamane ne diye…………..
Dafn karke maikhade mein hum chale……..

Peene waalon mauzmon ki kaid kya…………
Aaj to ek daur bemauzam chale…………… (jab bhi)