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Farewell to Vidrohi: Pallavi Paul

Guest Post by Pallavi Paul

[ Rama Shankar Yadav ‘Vidrohi’, was a familiar figure for students, especially in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. He was a friend, a companion, a comrade, a mentor. Though rusticated many years ago from JNU, where he had been a student, for his participation in a  protest, he had never left the campus of JNU, and had become, over the years, a beloved feature of campus life. His visceral poetry, often heard at protest gatherings, was passed from person to person by word of mouth. A few days ago, he died while marching with his beloved student friends in a protest against cuts in education in Delhi.  Pallavi Paul, a filmmaker and artists, who made short films featuring Vidrohi, remembers him in this tribute..]

Unknown Citizen Vidrohi
Vidrohi as the ‘Unknown Citizen’ at a Protest to ‘Reclaim the Republic’ on 26 January 2013

Yesterday, as I was looking out a window of an old house in Ballygunge, Kolkata- my phone buzzed. I ignored it.  I was in the middle of telling a friend how happy I was to be away from Delhi for sometime. How the sights and smells of a different city were rejuvenating. The feeling of not having a ‘special connection’ with anyone or anything here felt liberating.

Much later, I opened the message from my friend Uday. ‘Vidrohiji passed away’, he wrote. Just three words.  In our conversations with him, Vidrohiji had often spoken about his death. We had revisited the scenario over and over again. Like a dream or a film – it had a grand setting. He had told us “Now that you are recording me, i know that i will say goodbye in the most glorious way possible. Very few people can say that about their death, while they are still alive.” On another day he had said to us, “As my fame has increased, so have the dangers. Now what i need is guarantee. Your records are guarantee against that largest threat of being killed. I say to my enemies, that if you want to kill me – then shoot me in the eyes. Because i will keep staring back at you till my last breath. Your records will help me stare back at them even after I am gone. “

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