The Dalai Lama laughs with him and Mother Teresa teaches him a lesson in empathy. Moraes could make himself at home with Laloo Prasad Yadav, the man who invented the self-fulfilling controversy, and exchange whitely notes with Sunil Gangopadhyaya. He was Indira Gandhi's biographer-painting her in defeat, post Emergency, and in triumph, when she returned to power. He tried to fathom the mind of a mysterious 'super cop'-K.P.S. Gill-and also of Nasalizes, dacoits and ganglords.
This collection is literary journalism at its finest-from an observer who saw people and places with the eye of a poet and wrote about them with the precision of a surgeon.
DOM MORAES (1938-2004), poet, novelist and columnist, is seen as a foundational figure in Indian English Literature. In 1958, at the age of twenty, he won the prestigious Hawthorn den Prize for his first volume of verse, A Beginning, going on to publish more than thirty books of prose and poetry. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for English in 1994. He has won awards for journalism and poetry in England, America, and India. He also wrote a large number of film scripts for BBC and ITV covering various countries such as India, Israel, Cuba, and Africa.
`What was all that about?' Dom queried when I returned to him. He was rather intuitive and he could discern the disquiet on my face. I told him. His eyes fell to the nearly empty glass of lemonade. 'I could really use a drink now.' I reached out and touched his hand. He shook my hand away, irately, as if I was to blame. When he looked up at me his eyes were pained. `I was always odd,' he said, 'and I never seemed to fit. People assumed there was something wrong with me. But when my mother was committed to a mental hospital people seemed to be certain of what was ailing me. Their unease turned to pity, and this was positively worse. I can't blame them though. I often worried if I would turn mad too. It was in my genes, after all. I did the next best thing: I got drunk. That was in my genes too. My father drank heavily.' I ordered us another round of lemonade.
It was only years after Dom died that I came across a brilliant book, The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton, a renowned cell biologist. In this book he distinguishes between the world defined by Neo-Darwinism, which sees life as an unending battle of survival, and the New Biology, which is about a symbiotic journey. According to Lipton the cells in our body control their physiology and behavior. A cell's life is monitored by its physical and energetic environment and not by its genes. Genes are simply molecular blueprints required to construct the cell. 'We are not victims of our genes,' Lipton asserts in his book. 'They don't define us; they remodel themselves in response to life experiences. The character of our life is based upon how we perceive it.'
There's a reason I mention this here; Lipton's discovery or analysis, as it may be, provided me with a blueprint to understand people, to empathize with them and the environment to which they belonged. Not that I succeeded at this. But this was something that Dom already knew and had honed. When he talked to people, or interviewed them, it was with a degree of humility, compassion and with utmost sincerity. Not because he knew anything about genes and cells but essentially because he could perceive and sense much beyond whom these people were or what they said with the same temerity as he could sense who he was and was not. However, I must admit, he possessed deep prejudices about certain matters and particular kinds of people. These preconceptions were so entrenched that quite frequently he became rather irrational. He was stubborn in a spoiled childlike way, and declined to be convinced or calmed.
The Biology of Beliefs not a well-written book in a literary sense but the scientific facts is all there. The book may not have appealed to Dom but the discoveries within could have reassured him, dispelled his fears. The oddities in him, he could have assertively affirmed, were indeed a good thing. Dom often told me, what seemed to me then, odd and yet profound things connected to his own life, the lives of writers and poets, the choices they had, the decisions they made. Maybe they were wrong. Perhaps they were right. Either way, it hadn't mattered to them. This was important. It was the key: the oddness of it all.
In 1967, Arthur Koestler, a writer-philosopher, proposed the word Holon from the Greek word Halos (meaning whole) in his book, Ghost in the Machine. Koestler was a journalist who covered the Spanish Civil War and World War II from the perspective of ordinary people. After the war he turned to writing books in which he explored the inner worlds of experience and imagination.
According to Koestler, in a given natural and social hierarchy, Holon is a part and a whole at the same time-a part-whole. A Holon is a nodal point in a hierarchy. It is influenced by the character and environment of the larger whole it is a part of, and influences the smaller parts it contains. A word, idea, sound, an emotion are linguistic Holon’s-they are simultaneously part of something, at the same time have their own purpose and role; much like the nested Russian Matryoshka dolls contained within each other.
In Dom's own life, in the hierarchy of his relations over time: family, friends, lovers, writers, poets, within the smallest and yet deepest of connections, his mother is the Holon between Dom and his writing. Each endured because of the other. The reason is ever obvious in that anyone who writes about Dom cannot but help write about his mother. As did Dom.
From a heavenly asylum, shriveled Mummy, glare down like a gargoyle at your only son, who now has white hair and can hardly walk. am he who was not I.
In this collection of Dom's People, each person is a part and a whole, both special and strange, who were all swept up, one way or another, across order and chaos, in the social tumult of the country. As Marcel Proust's narrator says, in Remembrance of Things Past, the only true voyage of discovery is 'to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds.' The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked about the danger of a single story. It was about what happens if people and situations are reduced to a single narrative. Each individual life contains a heterogeneous compilation of stories. By reducing people to one, we take away their true and distinct identity. This book beholds innumerable universes through the eyes and words of many diverse persons, their varied stories, uncensored, and without judgement.
There was one aspect that was common in many of the people irrespective of their economic status, education and cultural backgrounds, which was immediately obvious to me, though not so much to Dom. It was the manner in which they related to me. We had interviewed people together and written about them separately in the sections of the book we co-authored, Out of God's Oven. Most of the interviewees assumed I was his assistant who took notes, and helped him in some small way or another. This was not entirely just because he was a famous writer and they were in awe of him, or that
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
Item Code: NAQ532 Author: Sarayu Srivatsa Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2019 Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9789388326650 Language: English Size: 9.00 X 6.00 inch Pages: 144 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.3 Kg