Tag Archives: memory

Thirty Years On (from November, 1984): Jaspreet Singh

Kafila normally never publishes poems. But sometimes, we make an exception. Because poetry give voice to memory in ways that prose can’t always. And because we must never forget November, 1984.

Guest Post by Jaspreet Singh


One hears that the grass has grown again

and old domes have been plated

with gold. Children of ashened fathers

have acquired autos and crystals, and Lutyens’

stones have bloomed

Continue reading Thirty Years On (from November, 1984): Jaspreet Singh

On The Real Tragedy of Secular Modernity: Anand Vivek Taneja

This is a guest post by ANAND VIVEK TANEJA


In the discussion around Aarti Sethi’s essay on Remembering Maqsood Pardesi some very important questions arose. As these questions are directly relevant to my work, but also to the larger concerns of the Kafila community, I decided to dwell on them at some length. As these reflections were written in response to the comments of one particular person, I address him directly in what follows below.

Dear Imtiaz,

In your comments on Aarti’s essay, you say the following things about my work:

The tragedy of secular moderns of India is their fascination with Islam… And it appears secular modern Hindus are too busy analyzing jinns of Delhi, which is really sad!

… what do I do with the knowledge of emerging liberal ideologues working for the empire writing enchanting texts about chattan baba or the jinns?


I think that your opening statement is profound. But to understand its true depth, we need to revisit the terms “secular”, and “modern”, as well as our understandings of “Hinduism” and “Islam.” As an entry point into these questions, I will address your (rhetorical) question about what one should, and can do with “enchanting” texts about jinns. Continue reading On The Real Tragedy of Secular Modernity: Anand Vivek Taneja

The Modi Mandate – A Belated Response to S Varadarajan: Pradip Datta


Siddharth Varadarajan’s article raises some very important dilemmas before Modi which is really a rehearsal of the development versus welfare debate now bound to be exacerbated with the runaway capitalism that Modi promises to unleash.

But it raises another important question. Can we simply forget the past and get on with the future? Can we join the futurist chorus of Modi and his Thatcherite – Reaganite followers? Can an electoral mandate, even one as powerful as this, remove permanently the memory of 2002?

The immediate analogy comes with the anti Sikh riots followed by the 1984 verdict. 1984 returns every election to haunt the Congress even after they have made a Sikh prime minister for 10 years. Some historical memories are very stubborn and refuse to leave off the haunting of the future. It is not as if there have not been many riots. But only some riots achieve a historically emblematic status that remove them from the realms of simple memory alone. Some events become symbolic rallying points and they invite an excess of documentation, of witness testimonies, of cultural representations, all of which memorialize and fix them in chronology as a rupture in time that can never quite be bridged by the stitchings or blurrings of popular oral memory alone. In such events the archive becomes memory. Continue reading The Modi Mandate – A Belated Response to S Varadarajan: Pradip Datta

In Memory of The Unknown Citizen

We may never know her name. But not every memory needs a name or a pile of stone. Her memorial need not claim space on a city street, or square, or on the river-front. Let the well-known Leader and the Unknown Soldier have their real estate, but for the Unknown Citizen, let us not fire gun salutes, fly flags at half-mast or build portals and pedestals. And let us not for even a moment imagine that instituting police measures against the people the Prime Minister calls ‘foot-loose migrants’ will mean anything remotely resembling justice.

We can think about what the contours of enduring justice can be without being hangmen. Only safe cities, safe towns and safe villages, and freedom for all men and women will mean justice. Justice does not come from the gallows. It springs from a freedom from fear, and the gallows only perpetuate fear. Hangmen will turn the bullies who rape into the cowards who will automatically murder so that there may not be a trace of their rape. It will make fathers who rape their daughters into fathers who rape and murder their daughters. Capital punishment will lead to less, not more convictions for rape and heinous sexual violence. That can never lead us to justice. Continue reading In Memory of The Unknown Citizen

Untitled: Najeeb Mubarki

Guest post by NAJEEB MUBARKI

I could have met Sebald.
I went to Britain in September 2001,
And he died in December.
East Anglia wasn’t all that far way
From London, nothing, really,
Is all that far away in Britain.
I could have met him, if I had known him
What I would have wanted to say, I think Continue reading Untitled: Najeeb Mubarki

Spaces of Forgetting

[Part of a Series. Introduction: For Movement]

Lisbon, June 2009

From the outside, it looks like a lovely building. Broad and imposing, with a certain faded but still palpable elegance. Like all buildings are at some point in their lives in all cities, it is surrounded by construction gates. The sign says that it is to become, like more and more buildings in more and more cities, luxury condominiums. I think of a friend’s words at a conference a few days before. In the contemporary, he said, inequality is made through making the city. The Portuguese word for “building” is edificio, from the Latin aedis, or dwelling, which itself comes from the Sanskrit inddhh – to burn. Aedis and facere [to make] together make aedificium, to build a dwelling around a hearth, around fire. The word is close to aedes, or temple. It also skirts around aedificare and hence the English “edify” – to improve spiritually. A lot is built in building a building. Continue reading Spaces of Forgetting

Equality of dead Souls

There is a terrifying equality of the dead in Mumbai last week. The provisional list of 169 dead carried in various papers has people from every faith (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish), and from all over the world, bourgeois and proletarian. It’s a chilling archive of dead souls, many without a name.


1. Hemant Karkare (Police)
2. Ashokrao Kamthe (Police)
3. Tukaram Ombale (Police) Continue reading Equality of dead Souls