Archive for May 13th, 2011

Ends and Beginnings

May 13, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (1)


Today, with the Left Front being voted out in West Bengal, after thirty-four years in power, there is much being said about the bloodletting at Singur and Nandigram and how those events spelled the beginning of the end. But the genealogy of those two events goes directly back to the Sundarbans, when thousands of impoverished refugees from Bangladesh were evicted from the island of Morichjhãpi, with great violence: how many lives were lost we will perhaps never know. That was in 1979 and it was not an end but a beginning.

I am reminded of Nilima, in The Hungry Tide, talking about Nirmal: “…ever since his retirement, my husband, having little else to do, has chosen to involve himself in the fate of these settlers, in Morichjhãpi. He does not believe that a government such as the one we have now would act against them. He is an old leftist, you see, and unlike many such, he truly believed in those ideals; many of the men who are now in power were his friends and comrades. My husband is not a practical man; his experience of the world is very limited. He does not understand that when a party comes to power, it must govern, it is subject to certain compulsions. I am afraid that if he learns of what is going to happen he will not be able to cope with the disillusionment, it will be more than he can bear.”

Some of those words have the sound of a warning: “when a party comes to power, it must govern, it is subject to certain compulsions…”




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