Sunday, 17 March 2013

SAARC Literary Festival at Agra, India on 10-12 March 2013

K. V. Dominic's Paper Presented at SAARC Literary Festival at Grand Hotel, Agra on 11 March 2013

Kerala: God’s Own Country Turning to Devil’s own Hell
Dr. K. V. Dominic
Kerala, the State I belong to lies at the southern end of India. A small State with 15000 square miles, just 1.18% of India’s landmass, but thickly populated with 3.4 crores, it is tourists’ paradise popularly known as “God’s own country.” Her feet are stroked by the gentle waves and ripples of the Arabian Sea and her upper body is protected by the Western Ghats from the extreme heat of the sun. This protection of the State by the sea and the mountains blesses her with a humid wet climate.  Kerala gets an average annual rainfall of 3107 mm--some 7,030 crore m3 of water. This is in comparison to the all-India average of 1,197 mm. As a result of two seasonal monsoons Kerala averages some 120–140 rainy days per year. Kerala’s average maximum daily temperature is around 36.7 °C; the minimum is 19.8 °C. There are forty four rivers and fifteen major lakes in the State. 26.6% of the geographic area of Kerala is forests and there are six national parks and fourteen wild sanctuaries.
          The statistics of the State detailed here proclaim the fact that there are very few places in the world which are so attractive by pleasant equable climate and topography. Even when I feel content and fortunate to be born, brought up and settled in this State I am equally grieved by the devilish attitudes, character and conduct of my countrymen. The literacy rate of Kerala is 93.9%, the highest in the country, to the national rate of 74.04. When education makes one cultured and civilized, the fellow beings of my State go backward to the barbarians’ stage. They are crazy after materialism, and divinity in them has lost to such an extent that they give no importance to principles, values, family and social relations, coexistence with human beings and other beings. Instead they are trying their maximum to exploit their fellow beings, other beings and the planet itself. If it goes like this, the total destruction is not far away. It is the duty of the religious leaders, political leaders and the intelligentsia to inject the lost values to the masses and thus preserve this planet and the inhabitants from the imminent devastation. Instead, majority of these leaders become mafias and inject communal and corruptive venom to the minds of the masses. Corruption has become the hallmark of these leaders and influenced by them the masses also deviate from the right track to the evil track. And who will save this society? My answer is: writers, particularly poets who are like prophets.    
Let me go back to my childhood in 1960s. Literally my State was God’s own land at that time. The south-west monsoon starts punctually in the first week of June itself and continues for three months of incessant rains followed by north-east monsoon in the afternoon for another three months with periodic intervals. From January to June we have summer season. As urbanization and its adverse impact on the ecology and environment had been very slow one could see greenery all over the State with paddy fields, coconut farms, rubber, tea and cardamom estates and thick reserve forests. Rice still remains the steeple food of the people. But where are the paddy fields? One can find very seldom except in two or three districts. People of Kerala now depend on other neighbouring States for food grains, vegetables, milk, meat, and several other groceries. Majority of children in Kerala now have not seen the plant which yields rice. Vast green paddy fields have now been filled and converted to plantation crops, shopping complexes, or remaining arid and uncultivated. People have become so lazy that they don’t want to sweat outside, exposed to sunlight. They are after white collared jobs and till they get one they will wander idle. As a result the real man power or working force in Kerala is not the Keralites but North Indian labourers who are employed in domestic to agricultural and industrial sector. Ten percent of people in Kerala now are labourers from the other States.
          In my childhood there were rains for six months and as a result all the forty four rivers were live and vibrant with rushing water round the year. There have been cases of floods during monsoons. But now in summer almost all rivers are dry with little flow of water. Greedy land mafia appropriate government forests with the help of politicians and corrupt bureaucrats and deforest thousands of acres. Similarly, sand mafia mine sands of the rivers, digging them to die. Due to massive deforestation landslides have become a common calamity now whenever heavy downpour occurs. The upper class in the State clamours for express highways, bullet trains and more airports ignoring the poor masses who will be losing their houses and small agricultural lands causing further damages to environment and ecology. This imbalanced development will widen the gaps between the poor and the rich and tumble the equable pleasant climate of the State. Since regular monsoons are there, the cheapest power source of Kerala is hydroelectric projects. As power consumption has now multiplied in the State, the governments are trying to construct more and more dams and thus immerse forests and their lives under water. Recently there have been several reports about wild elephants and tigers encroaching villages, destroying crops and even killing goats and human beings. What will they do if their habitats are destroyed by man? Man is the most selfish being on earth and he believes that the planet is created for him exclusively. I have written a long poem of twenty one sections, entitled “Write My Son, Write” delineating human beings atrocities to Nature and other beings and even to the Creator Himself. It is published in my poetry collection Write Son, Write. In it God is asking the poet to write and propagate God’s message. Let me quote a few lines from it related to our topic.
Write, my son,
Birds and animals play
their assonant keys.
Man alone strikes
discordant notes.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Your species
can’t live alone.
Cattle, sheep,
goats, donkeys,
dogs, cats,
swine, fowl,
I created
for your company;
neither can they
exist without you.
You speak to them
in strange tongue,
and they reply
in divine speech;
you scourge and
even kill them.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Your species
is the latest
of my creations;
evolved after
millions of years
of progressive march.
or regression?
Was my plan
wise or folly?
Doesn’t it distress
and boomerang?
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
I risked a test
in man’s brain.
Filled some cells
with seeds
of  knowledge.
Alas! Vainglorious
he thinks
the master
of all wisdom;
tries to conquer
the universe:
landed on the moon,
sent satellite
to the Mars;
he takes it
greatest feat!
The Moon and Mars
just two drops
in the ocean of
celestial objects.
Poor creature
knows not
his handicap;
limitations of
his reason.

He defies me,
assumes my position,
haughtily claims
as the noblest
of my creations!
He gives me shape,
and boasts,
embodiment of God!

I breathed in him
celestial values:
happiness, beauty,
peace, love, mercy;
but he fosters
hate and violence;
kills his kith and kin;
shows no mercy
to animals and plants.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Christmas is your
greatest festival;
greeting each other
peace and happiness;
blackest day for
cattle, fowl and fish;
billions butchered
for your pleasure;
you dine and dance,
sing hymns of peace!
Preach gospel of love!
Your happy celebrations:
birthday, marriage,
ordination, jubilee,
feasts and festivals,
doomsday for animals.
Their cries resound
like death knell
and thus you try
dissonance at
my harmony  (Dominic, “Write My Son, Write” 24-29)

Though the lines I have quoted have universal appeal, it is cent percent applicable to my fellow beings in the State. I don’t think that there are any other States in India which show such downright cruelty to animals. My own close neighbour, a doctor by profession has killed my seven cats in three different attempts just for the reason that they defecated in his vast compound. I could only retaliate or avenge my pets’ massacres by writing a poem and publishing it with the title “Massacre of Cats.” Let me quote from it:
Where will
cats defecate?
Where will
all animals defecate?
Is this planet
man’s sole property?
My materialist neighbours
go to church everyday;
read the Bible everyday;
but never read the part
to love other beings
as fellow beings.
Instead they believe,
other beings are
creations for their
service and taste.
God, instill in them
thy creation’s purpose;
the need to love
other creations--
animals, plants
and the planet itself.
Kindly teach them
to learning to live
with the system. (Dominic, “Massacre of Cats” 45-46)
The construction mania in my State uproots innumerable trees which serve as shelter to the pedestrians and passengers waiting for the buses. The selfless service the trees render to human beings and other beings including birds and flies is inexpressible. There was a huge mango tree on the side of road near to the main gate of the college I studied.  Thousands of students and passengers waited under its cool shade for the buses. But unfortunately the municipal authorities uprooted it for constructing concrete waiting shed which emanated unbearable heat. I have composed a poem on it and published in my collection Winged Reason. The title of the poem is “I am Just a Mango Tree.” It is conversational in form mainly between God and the tree. Let me quote a few lines from it:
God, what do I hear? Is it true?
‘True, my daughter, I am helpless.’
Can’t they spare me and
build it somewhere else?
Don’t I do them good as to all?
Don’t I have feelings and pains
though I endure in silence?
Haven’t I the right to live?
God, why is your Man so selfish and cruel?
Did you create him
to disturb this earth’s balance?
This planet would be a paradise
if You kindly withdraw him. (Dominic, “I am Just a Mango Tree” 41)
Let me wind up my paper concluding that modern man’s crazy race after material comforts and luxuries have destroyed forests, wet fields, ponds, lakes and rivers which stored water for the sustenance of human beings and others beings and as a result this God’s own land is facing severe drought in summer which lasts to even eight months. Lack of sufficient rain causes shortage of drinking water in addition to power crisis. Thus this God’s own country is turning into Devils’ own hell now.
Works Cited
Dominic, K. V. “I am Just a Mango Tree.” Winged Reason. By Dominic. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2010. 40-41. Print.
---. “Massacre of Cats.” Write Son, Write. By Dominic. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. 44-46. Print.
---. “Write, My Son, Write.” Write Son, Write. By Dominic. New Delhi: Gnosis, 2011. 21-37. Print.

K. V. Dominic's Poems Read at the SAARC Literary Festival at Agra on 10 March 2013

Mullaperiyar Dam

A dam aged hundred and sixteen,
built without cement but surkhi and lime,
blocking innocent frisky Periyar,
immersing millions of plants and trees,
fleeing thousands of animals and birds.
It postures now Janus-faced;
its old age worsened by frequent tremors,
head to foot bleeding in several parts,
makes millions tense and sleepless on one side.
Catastrophic fear culminated to
behavioural problems in children nearby;
daren’t go to school, neither parents dare to send;
anxiety, phobia, depression, insomnia!
If broken, forty millions in five districts affected.
People in unison clamour for new dam:
“Give them water and save our lives.”
Millions on other side object to new dam;
Disbelieve promise of water from other side.
Arid five districts made fertile using the water.
Political mafia beguiles innocent masses
People on both sides lived as one family
Alas! Anti-social forces injected
regional, racial venom in masses;
destroy farms, attack shops and buses.
Multitudes flee to their native villages
leaving whatever they have earned with sweat.
Borders are closed, police patrol,
Inter-state buses and trucks stop run;
fruits, vegetables and eggs are rotten;
thousands of farmers,  labours and merchants
struggle for their daily lives.
Rulers of state and central governments
living in midst of pomp and luxury
heed not to the wails and moans of the masses.
Avarice for power obstructs their duties;
tests the patience of benevolent Nature
and leaves the masses preys to calamities.

God is helpless

The congregation wailed
after their parish priest:
“God, save us
from this extreme heat;
save us from the drought;
Merciful and Almighty God,
grant us rain,
and save our land.”
Suddenly heard
a sound from above:
“I am helpless,
my beloved children.
I did supply
whatever you needed;
The same I gave
to all non-human beings;
I created the earth,
an oasis for men,
animals and plants;
unlike others,
you are selfish to the core;
despite your reason,
you are a nincompoop;
who will axe
the branch he sits?
How will you survive
without plants and trees?
You get rains
since trees are there;
where are the forests
which blocked the clouds?
The sun is the same;
its heat is the same.
Who told you to emit
toxic gas and defile
the sky, pure and clear?
Your wells are dry,
Rivers are dry;
I am not responsible.
You have dug your grave,
And what am I to do?
Petitions come to me
one after another
from plants and animals.
All complain of
your cruelty and torture:
they have no food;
they have no water;
they have no shelter;
and not even air.
They plead me
to call you back;
save their lives,
and thus save the planet.
Kindly tell me, children,
what shall I do.”

No comments:

Post a Comment