Devil in carnate

Sweet and Sour

For many evenings I have been hooked on to watching Discovery Channel of TV devoted to narrating the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi fascism. I have no idea from where they got all the film footage but it seemed authentic and not re-enacted to make the serial Adolf Hitler comes alive with all his oratory and fascist salutes with the raised right hand. His admirers do the same shouting ‘Heil Hitler.’

My first encounter with the Nazis came in 1935 when I was a member of Indian students hockey team to play against German teams in Weisbaden. There were benches kept in the field for spectators of which one was painted yellow. At half time I went and sat on it. I was asked to sit on another bench as the yellow ones were meant for Jews. I refused to do so and got into an unpleasant argument with our German escorts. I was dropped from the team.

Thereafter I made friends with several young German Jews who had fled from their homeland and joined colleges in England. I spent my summer vacations with them in holiday resorts in northern France. And learnt more about what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. It was nauseating. It became worse when Hitler became ruler of the country.

Thousands of Jews were  murdered in gas chambers. As he extended his rule to Poland and France, more were forced to flee for their lives. The Zionist movement received a boost. Those who felt their only chance of survival was to have a country of their own migrated to Israel. They bought desert lands at cheap prices from the Arabs. Within a few years they turned sandy wastes into green forests. When Arabs tried to expel them, they inflicted humiliating defeats on them. It could be said that Hitler was responsible for creating a viable, often aggressive Israel. With generous support of the United States Israel became a thorn inside Muslim nations.

All this is spelt out in graphic detail by the Discovery Channel series. It leaves the viewer in no doubt that Hitler was the greatest murderer in the history of mankind. He killed many more people than Changez Khan, Hulagu and Abdali put together. It is amazing that so many of our right-wing Hindu leaders, read his autobiography Mien Kamph (My Life) for inspiration. Although Hitler took the concept of Aryanism and the emblem Swastika from us, he had nothing but contempt for us Indians as lackeys of the British.

Dent in dagger

For some reason, not logical, the series on Hitler reminded me of a verse by Habib Jalib: Jurm
Qatl kyon ho gaya hum pey ilzaam hai
Qatl jisney kiya hai vahee muddaee
Vakeelon mein ab ye bahas chhir gayee
Ye jo qaatil ko thhoree see zehmat huee
Ye jo khanjar mein halks sa kham aa gayaa
Iska taavaan kissey liya jaayega?
(‘Why did you allow yourself to be killed?
Is the charge for which I am billed.
Now lawyers are arguing amongst themselves:
‘This small trouble that the killer had to take
This little dent that his dagger suffered,
Who should be made to compensate?’)

Views of nature

I have been struck by the different attitudes taken by Indian and English poets on nature. Indians have largely restricted themselves to describing the onset of the summer monsoon. After hot days of May and June and the sandstorms, black clouds appear on the horizon. There is lightning and thunder followed by torrential rains. The wind blows with gale force knocking down trees. People run out to be drenched. Girls go for swings. In the woods peacocks dance with minor variations. This phase is repeated by Indian poets. They have very little to say about the advent of spring when flowers come into bloom besides rejoicing at their sight.

On the other hand English poets go into great detail about floral display in March and April. For them, rain is a penance while the blue skies and sunshine a blessing. Indian native poetry is celebratory; English is descriptive. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong particularly as the example I am going to quate has nothing to do with rain or sunshine or flowers or peacocks but describes vividly the hour of twilight as the world is enveloped in blackness of the night. The lines I refer to are from Thomas Grey’s (1716-1771) ‘Elegy written in country churchyard’. I learnt to recite quite a lot of it by heart. The poem kept haunting me. I also resolved to visit the site where it was composed. And so I did.

Spare tyre

Husband and Wife are like two tyres of a vehicle.
If one punctures, the vehicle can’t move further.
Moral: Always keep a spare tyre.

Chewing gum & begum

What’s the similarity between gum & begum (wife)? Both are sweet at the beginning and become tasteless, shapeless and chipku in the end...

Friend & wife 

You can tell your friend ‘You are my Best Friend’
But do you have courage to tell your wife:
‘You are my Best Wife?’
(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)

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