“Not forever does the bulbul sing
In balmy shades of bowers,
Not forever lasts the spring
Nor ever blossom the flowers.
Not forever reigneth joy,
Sets the sun on days of bliss,
Friendships not forever last,
They know not life, who know not this.”
~ Khushwant Singh.
On March 20, 2014, we lost Khushwant Singh, whose writings have mesmerised generations of literature-lovers all over the world. The sad demise of the legendary writer propels us, yet again, to think of the age-old crusade of literature against mortality. Literature is one of the very few things in life that have been able to successfully challenge mortality’s authority over all things human. It is the valiant weapon that gives each one of us a fair chance to carve our names on the endless canvas of infinity, and redeem ourselves from the hopeless inevitability of getting lost in an all-pervasive nothingness. It gives us hope that even if “the bulbul” does not sing forever, its song remains, which is enough to remember the bulbul by, long after it has stopped singing.
This is perhaps one of the most daunting tasks we wish to achieve when we start writing. As we share what we write with others, we secretly hope to accumulate witnesses to our thoughts, our ideas, our emotions, our memories, and finally our lives, which would otherwise go by, unnoticed, unacknowledged and unappreciated (even by us, at times). Through literature, we seek to gratify our deepest desire of living on forever, of ensuring our presence in our ultimate absence.
In a way, writing is also cathartic. It is our way of purging our negative emotions (including our insecurity of being forgotten) and our fear of the unknown. It offers us the means of revealing our deepest, darkest sides, and the evils of society and its institutions, without the danger of getting chastised or alienated for it (at least, sometimes). It is a sign of our ongoing battle – with Life, Death, Society and our own Self – and possibly the only indication that it can be won.
This month’s issue is an assortment of many such battles, which bravely challenge all the wrongs around us, and celebrate all the rights within. Even when “spring” ends and the sun sets on “days of bliss”, literature will exist, and through it, so will we.