Monday, January 22, 2007


I loved one person
without placing on it any limits.
And this is what I got in return.
Now, what can I expect from the
others around, whom I haven’t loved as much?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Identity and the Clash of Civilizations

The use of this phrase -‘clash of civilization’ - has come into being ever since the US and its allies started this full scale war against the perpetrators of the terrorist strikes against them. This phrase, which has become a cliché since then, emanated from the title of a book written by Samuel E Huntington, in which he describes the present crisis as being a clash between two civilizations – the Muslim world and the West. The author’s Harvard colleague, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, has debunked Huntington’s views on the conflict, and has given reasons as to why he thinks Huntington’s views are flawed. Both the economists have thrown each others’ theories overboard in the books that they have authored.

To have religion as the only singular means to identify a people calls for some serious deliberation, especially when imprudent world leaders have identified people thus. Shashi Tharoor in his book ‘India’ has indicated that the only thing singular about a country like India is its inherent pluralism. This was written in the context of India alone, but can be extended to include the diversities in the world as such. Both Tharoor and Sen have voiced their concerns regarding inciting communal intolerance in India (while Sen witnessed the riots at the time of Indian independence, Tharoor had been witness to the more recent riots in December 1992). Following Huntington’s theory, these cases of communal riots will have to be seen as a clash of the Hindu world and the Muslim world in India.

The diverse identities that the people of a community may hold remain unnoticed. Most of the time these other identities override the religious identity a person holds. For example, farmers belonging to different countries, different religions; have been united against the oppressive nature of the free trade policies that their governments have chosen. Similarly, social activists, breaking all the chains of religion, class etc., voiced their pleasure at Pakistan’s breakaway from the dehumanizing Hudood ordinance. The killing of a journalist in Indonesia or Sri Lanka, or the restrictions imposed on free journalism by certain authoritarian rulers, bring all journalists together, and thus their ‘journalistic’ voice is heard. Many instances like these may be listed, further exemplifying and justifying this claim of pluralism and diversity.

Rather than inciting hostility based on divisions created on religious lines, it would bear fruit, if attempts are made to use these other identities as a means to unite people. Above these common traits that the people of various lands, religions, class etc. may hold, there lies something that brings the whole world together; and that is the yearning for a happy and decent life. And you don’t get this at another’s expense.

Anup Nambiar

* This article has been influenced by ideas presented in the books ‘Identity and Violence” and “The Argumentative Indian” by Amartya Sen, “India – From Midnight to the Millennium” by Shashi Tharoor, an interview of Samuel Huntington published in a Gulf News supplement and various other news paper and magazine articles.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Brighter days

I planned to write on
the prospect of having
brighter days ahead –
something optimistic,
Very unlike the state
in which I found myself.

I had this want, from
when things had gone
slightly awry.

I wanted to get my mind
cleared of the thoughts
that had me fixed thus.

I had to invent this feeling
of happiness and optimism.
My mind did not
yield to this want.

I think I’ll leave this
want, for the moment.

I’ll give time for the
present feeling to sink in.

The walk

I was on the road
I had walked on so many times
during those days.
The walk brought back memories.

I was with darkness
and the stars above.
This time again with you
in my mind.

I wondered how nice
the previous walks on the
same route had been.

I always had something
nice to think of then,
when times had been better.

I wished I could change these
things which I myself had
deemed uncontrollable.

Promise II

I remember the exact words I had used,
when I promised you this.

This promise, turned tenet,
Guided me through time.

I recollect you telling me that
it would be me who forgets this promise.

Now see who has.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I was ready to give up some of my other dreams
As a last gasp impetus to this one dying.
Taught by some wrong decisions from the past
I realize that now there is no point trying.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Your Dream

I woke up at two thirty this morning.
My mind filled with a thousand thoughts of you.
I tossed and turned on the bed,
trying to catch some more sleep –
in vain.

I held onto the pillow beside me.
The pillow had been a being in my life;
That being you had never tried to be.

I reminisced about how you had entered
my world as just ‘someone’,
and had proceeded to become my life,
changing me for good,
without even realizing this.
These changes you brought about,
by your presence alone.

I can still feel your touch,
and smell your raiment,
and remember the feel of your deeply oiled hair.
I knew you would never see
the tears that has my eyes filled today
when I think of all this.

Our story is a joke for the others around.
Something on which people can laugh about.
I don’t see this as something bad;
at least I am being the cause
of some others’ happiness.

How conveniently you have forgotten;
maybe not me, but what we had on our way.
It might be my fault that I never saw
this thing that we shared
with callousness or insincerity.

I had put my thoughts into words
and had written about my feelings.
Somehow all of them managed to
miss the person they were intended for – you.

I imagined speaking to you for a long time; this morning;
something I hadn’t done for so many years.
I spoke about everything I had written now,
just wishing you would see
me telling you these things in a dream.

And maybe then realize.