I wanted to start with a parable on free speech. But at this point, a parable seems idiotic; the idea I want to convey (reiterate) is a simple one. So here it is, as dry as bone:
An attack on free speech should not be viewed as an attack on the Indian intellectual. This is a dangerous line to draw in any democracy; it will invite nonchalance. The right to expression is by no means an extension awarded to a particular sect; it is a possibility available to any and everyone who’s part of this country. It is shouldn’t be dismissed as political issue either, but be seen as an existential one.
A writer, then: an everyday man who chooses to reflect society; he should never be isolated as an intellectual or a thinker.
In his reflections he will test the tolerance of the ruling apex, the elected government. And when he runs into a wall that threatens him, he will report it. It is up to the society then, to investigate and demand an explanation. If it fails to do so, or deems it unimportant, the wall will grow.
With an eye to the news: whether a writer chooses to return his Akademi award or not, (or why he accepted the award in the first place) seems like a deviation to me from the basic fact that he are dissenting the failure of something so fundamental. He is also mourning the loss of a colleague to something demonic.
Everyone who isn’t yet alarmed by something so fierce should rethink their sense of security and their place in society.
Fiction this issue :
This issue is dedicated entirely to fiction, as the last one was to poetry.
We have two Nigerian writers this time, Okafor Emmanuel Tochukwu and Sada Malumfashi.
Okafor Emmanuel in his story ‘Poison’, describes a curious and regular household visitor, and launches a humorous investigation into her intentions. Sada writes about a young boy who is proud of his father in a time that desperately calls for a strong leader.
The other two writers we have this issue are homegrown. B.V. Saranyan, whom we have published twice before, talks about loneliness and finding company among cats in his story ‘The Clowder party’. Sheila Kumar in ‘Ships that Pass’ draws a portrait of two middle-aged women thumping noses on a long holiday by the Aegean Sea.