It was as if the sun had broken down on the field, and I wondered whether this was the field Rumi had mentioned. Could it be, trailing along the highway that snaked itself around the waist of a rather murky city, could it be the field where there is no sense of right and wrong? The mustard plants looked like a blurry blanket of leftover fireflies. It looked beautiful. The city was fast approaching on the wheels of the bus. And my mind went back to the yellow. I had seen quite a few variants of yellow. I had seen it in monuments, in the drapes of little puppets, in the sand that made Jaipur. The literature fest was a learning experience. Rhetoric was the main thing that I learnt, along with the art of capturing an audience whose native language might be different from yours, but who owned now a language that had somehow nudged in and become a household tongue, uniting so many.
I learnt a rather hard lesson as well. Literature, or any form of art, wasn’t accessible to all. If you don’t have the means to buy a book, you cannot get it signed by its author. Now, signatures aren’t important, but the validation of realizing that the man to whom you owe your childhood, and your crumbs of imagination, is real, is after all a human being, is important. Imagine seeing J.K. Rowling in front of you and realizing that Harry Potter, although fictional, exists. It exists in her mind and in your heart, and it has shaped you both. But, you cannot reach out to her, owing to commercialisation.
The literature fest had a rather, well, capitalist mentality, in stopping readers from approaching authors.
Oh, so you want to thank your favourite human being on the planet for writing books that re-affirmed your faith in the good of humanity? Buy his book, then we can sell his signature to you, we can sell his time.
Far away from the green crowd, I had to rush into the pink hue that the city promises. And, I was lost. I was lost in archways, in the pillars, in the windows, and the architecture of a city that had been silent throughout its people’s sufferings. It has seen changes, it has seen an Amber built on its hills, and then a Town Hall built alongside the Hawa Mahal. But, it has stood firm, not losing its character, not losing its quirks, not losing its pink post the sunset. It is a colourful city, a montage of the past and the future with high-rises and crumbling forts. It is a historic city, which chronicles how people do not change; their experiences might, but their crux remains the same. It is a city, after all. It does what all cities do – it endures.
The fort of Amber is majestic, and the sun looks like a defiant ball of rage as it tries to melt the granite inlaid in the city steps. It is surreal to think that people ruled there, that the monarchy existed and of the splendour which was at its command. Has anything changed now? Is it democracy what India is nurturing at the moment? And, what of India’s splendor? Is it marked by the number of skyscrapers built in the ruins of an ancient heritage? India’s splendour cannot be like the form of art that is made inaccessible to those who lack the economic agency to own some precious part of it. There is no throne any more, and there should be no single man wielding exclusive power over India’s splendour.
Splendour is in the mustard fields that remind me of a certain movie and a certain man who held the star-soaked sky in his outstretched arms. It is in the yellow of the soil, of the staple that makes every place in this country a household. The splendour is in us too, as we sit in a bus and wait for a city to crash upon us, maybe disliking it for its guts, but still admiring it for the same. There is splendour in this – in being able to recognize and claim what is ours and what we must make accessible, in never stopping the search for that field where the sun breaks on our perceptions of what truly is right or wrong.
Written by Adrija Ghosh
Featured image by Hitashi Arora