My grandfather seldom talked about things. He said he had it better out through writing. But when he did, it was amazing for me. One instance I clearly remember is when he talked to me about ‘writing’. He told me about how people used to get influenced when they read something, how words used to drive people into a state that made them DO something. That was when the pen was really mightier than the sword.
Now I know people who are pretentious of their children, whom they deem to be ‘voracious readers’. All I find in their bookcase is a couple of books by what they call ‘the new-wave’ authors. Books have hence become a pass-time recreation to people. It is even probably because this is the kind of time we have grown into – serious novel-reading, poetry-analysis, intellectual-cinema watching, drama going are all for “serious” youth and it isn’t “very cool”. And then there is the evergreen accusation on the amount of work the syllabus gives us to do that we do not have time (make time) to do all this.
One question is on how much we are exposed to serious writing? Isn’t the quality deteriorating day by day? Will we hail new authors for their words rather than their extraordinary marketting techniques? Will the legacy of authors like RK Narayan, SL Bhyrappa, Amitav Ghosh, Ruskin Bond, Phakeer Mohammed Katpadi, Shashi Tharoor and Sara Abubakar continue who are the scholars of this art of weaving imagination with words and blending it with the right amount of realism? Will we have serious writers as well as appreciative audience?
There has been a lot of talk and news running around us about freedom of expression, or the lack of it today – on how before talking or writing anything, a person is forced to think about his safety and the rhetoric he has to indulge himself into, if he says anything that is disheartening to a section of the society. There have even been protests in various forms, silent and violent regarding these.
And most of this, by twists and turns leads to “religious tolerance”, or again, the lack of it. I feel, that when anything has to be accepted with tolerance, there has to be tolerance in it already. So when we write anything, it should also not be intolerant towards any religion. That is a part of religious intolerance. I feel a protest on any religious belief or system should only be done if it is causing harm to the society. And I do not see anything like that happening in any religion in India, today. Although one does not believe in such practices, he does not need to enforce his disbelief over others. It is time we realize that tolerance in the society, in all respects, can be achieved when, we accept others’ beliefs as theirs, and ours as ours, and strive to live together.
So a writer has a bigger task, than just gaining popularity. He (she) has the power to create a better society, where one can think freely but write and act with responsibility. That is the kind of writers one should yearn to see, and for people who want to, become themselves.
We need to create pure art that is also profound and intriguing, that has both scope for feelings and meaning – that which makes us look into ourselves and our surroundings and capture the confusions and understandings. And then THINK, and ACT in what can possibly be the right way.
Freedom is not simply doing what we like. It is doing what is required. And I am definitely not trying to be Sir Thomas More!