The Ugly Kashmiri

The Ugly Kashmiri

A Venomous Literary Manipulation

Name of the Book: The Ugly Kashmiri Cameos in exile

Author : Arvind Gigoo

Publisher:  Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd

Pages: 186

Price: Rs 250/-

By Prof. H.L. Misri

Jonathan Swift once remarked:  “Cant and vision are to the ear and eye the same as tickling is to the touch”. It is a meaningful collocation. Happiness is a perpetual possession of being well - deceived. Delusion is stronger than things as they appear in the glass of nature. Credulity is better than curiosity and superficial acceptance of the surface of things better than “pretended philosophy which enters into the depth of things”. Swift informs us ironically that we should be content will what we can know by sight and touch only and ignore reason. Here is what may be called the possession of being well-deceived of being a fool among knaves. That is precisely an example of topsy­turvydom or the technique of inversion. Is Gigoo somewhere near this description in his The Ugly Kashmiri (Cameos in exile)!?

Again Swift’s misanthropy, a product of deep personal frustration, made him declare : "I have ever hated all nations, professions and communities, and all my love is towards individuals ....... I hate ‘the English, the Scotch,  the French and the rest”. Gigoo has not left any group or section of any community untouched making use of his scathing sardonic-satirical - scornful sarcasm of an order that cannot be described as sympathetic. His cynicism is of a quality and profundity that speaks volumes..........

Gigoo’s uncharitable remark   “a liberal man proves irrational and dangerous, and...........a goon performs a heroic act” negates the abiding belief that Gigoo has survived as a liberal in spite of the turmoil that he talks of repeatedly. Everybody does not travel from the realm of reason to that of unreason as the author would have us believe.

One can appreciate the technique of inversion as a tool of satire adopted by Gigoo but the abstractions make the statements more of epigrams than of a commentary on the socio-political panorama on the one hand and the moral and ethical basis on the other.

Have a look at Conversion III (Cameo 14) "Conversion is the mother of repentance." "Renaissance (Cameo 16) is ‘reviving dead rituals’. "Sale of house and land and everything in Kashmir" (Cameo 23) is the result of the belief ‘Kashmir is my dear Motherland’.

Ration Card (s) (Cameo 26) is rather hyperbolic in connotation, as it puts across the idea that the entire question of exodus and the rest is to be analysed in the context of crumbs thrown at the displaced. Dreadfully - deadly an exaggeration!

One has yet to come across a secularist who or a secular government which has not offered everything possible for the betterment of Kashmiri Pandits. Why be venomously satirical about the role of the secularist. Gigoo himself belongs to the clan.

New Gods (Cameo 47) is designed to make fun of Kashmiri Pandits’ psyche, creating new gods in their desperation. Nothing unusual about it. Every mythology has a god for every object and phenomenon beyond the control of man. Why shouldn’t the Pandit think of new gods who came to his rescue when the IndianState failed to provide any protection to him.

The Sympathizer (Cameo 50) highlights the greed for property displayed by the haves among the Muslim Community - with the entire spectrum of the Muslims.  -The Loss (Cameo 66) cuts both ways. Who is the actual loser? An answer to the question is the question of questions. How one wishes Gigoo could have answered it!

The Catch (Cameo 79) is a sad commentary on the role of the avaricious among the saviours. Is it universal? Not in the least.

Jammu (Cameo 81) is unnecessarily described as ‘the large Old Age Home'. So was the vale of Kashmir right from early sixties.

The Kill (Cameo 95) is a classic example of the technique of inversion as an instrument of sarcasm.

The Golden Handshake (Cameo 96) of 1947 is not a myth. Let us recall the sacrifices of the martyrs who nurtured it with their blood but the fanatic fringe proved more manipulative for a while.

Wife (A play) (Cameo 113) displays cynicism of the highest order presented as a conceit to facilitate the assimilation of hyperbole. Is the picture so murky?

The Day (Cameo 138) associated with Sri Bhat and his day, may sound quite innocent but its bitterness is fathomless.

Holy Places (Cameo 144) is again a repetition of mockery aimed at the mushroom growth of shrines modelled after the ones that the adherents lost. Why grudge the helplessness of the Faithful?

My Culture (Cameo 164) has the undertones of bitterness directed against those who sought concessions (genuinely so) after the displacement. Why make fun of a human endeavour?

Four Million (A Short Story) (Cameo 177) may be re-read as Bakshi’s Formula. Nothing of any trace of originality in it. “See you in Panun Kashmir”(Cameo 179) is a deliberate attempt to malign the K.P organizations that stand for the slogan. It may be a dream, but everyone has a right to have dreams in a social order based on democratic values. That is the beauty of our motherland, the land inhabited by people belonging to different regions, speaking different languages and expressing their opinion in a free atmosphere. Kashmir is in turmoil; the Kashmiri are in a bad shape. Let us not make the situation the butt of our ridicule.

The Ugly Kashmiri shows a highbrow intellectualism that smacks of: "I am; I know; I understand yet I am not; I know not and I do not understand-" That is precisely caricaturing the world at large. Swift was a master but he cannot be the guide in a context where human suffering is involved. Let us be humorously cynical and cynically humorous but let us adopt the sympathetic rather than the venomous form of this handy literary manipulation.

*The author is an eminent Professor of English, presently based in Jammu.

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