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Last Updated Tuesday September 19 2017 09:48 AM IST

The living and the dead

Gopikrishnan Kottoor
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The living and the dead Actor Thikkurussy Sukumaran Nair's house

We, as a people, are perhaps an indifferent lot. Indifferent to our surroundings, to co-existing beings around us, indifferent to our neighbors and friends, with a don’t care attitude for the next one among us. True, there are exceptions. But why is that getting rare?

Are we not indifferent to the plastic wastes piling up in the streets in the monsoon rains? Those plastic packets lying on either side of our roads really breed the dreaded dengue. Are we not blissfully oblivious to that health hazard that we ourselves irresponsibly create? It isn’t just enough to keep our flower pots or buckets turned upside down as Shailaja teacher wants us to do. The plastic wastes in the streets are real dengue makers. What did the Government really do to get rid of them before the rains? Where are the DDT men, or the fumigating lot that used to be seen by the dozens with their spray machines on their backs that was a common sight until twenty years ago in Trivandrum streets, who kept knocking at our gates to spray the chemical, to prevent mosquito proliferation? I am sure the spraying machines are all rusting in Corporation backyards.

Added to our irresponsibility, we are a set of impatient people too. Our kind of impatience is visibly strong especially when we take our vehicles out into the streets. The car behind you keeps honking, honking for no reason, just because another vehicle is in front of it. It is like a Pavlovian reflex. Impatient to the point of even intimidating a poor driver trying to steer his way around. One has no time to slow down or even let a pedestrian pass. In our cars, our horns have become weapons used to intimidate fellow men. Honk, honk, and stare, as though the guy overtaking you could kill you for running on his ‘private road’. Wherever we are, wherever we go, we as a people do not give away an opportunity to boost our ego and selfishness.

Read: Inflation, my little one

How more callously indifferent or impatient are we? We reach our nadir in the ways, we show that we care not a bit for our departed souls. Recently I happened to visit the Portuguese graveyard in Thangaserry, Kollam. The Archaeology Department hasn’t visited the cemetery site in fifty years, say the tomb dwellers who have encroached upon the cemetery tombs and made them their homes, breaking almost every tomb there, and using their massive stones. Very interesting, how the local slum folk there, over the years, made their dwellings upon the dead bodies of the Portuguese men. Now there are almost no tombstones around. And… coming to think of it… The grave site should have been preserved as an Indian historical and heritage site, under the Protected Monuments Act.

portuguese-tomb Portuguese tomb used a washing stone in Thangaserry, Kollam

Then again, the indifference we show our departed souls, those who have left lasting contributions to our culture, cinema, literature… how are we as a people treating such souls? With the greatest neglect. Nothing else. We talk in praise of our poets, our story tellers, our history makers, enjoy all their work, but what are we really doing to honor them, or to keep their memory alive for posterity? Nothing. Long years back I happened to visit the poet Kunjan Nambiar’s house…. A ramshackle house it lay… No historical depiction there about his unusual life as the father of Ottamthullal, or as King Mathanda Varma’s court poet, or his premature death bitten by a rabid dog. No one in our Culture Department seemed to bother. That was twenty years back. And to think of the utter dilapidation of Eraniel Palace of the Travancore kings…We as a people are quick to protect stone forms in the shapes of snakes or Ganapathis and to build temples and mint money on them… But how do we treat our brethren who left us the wealth of their creativity or intellect?

Today, somewhere in a Cherayinkil mosque, the shining star of the Malayalam black and white movie era, Prem Nazir’s tomb lies in sheer obscurity and abandon. His fine home is locked and is a feast for termites. Can't the government make the house a Nazir museum with collections of his films, voice recordings, and personal artifacts? Closer home, I happened to see the great Thikkurussy Sukumaran Nair’s house in Jawahar Nagar, in a most dilapidated and neglected condition. What are we as a people who claim to be an enlightened lot doing, watching such edifices that should be preserved for posterity, falling to dust before our very watching eyes? Our tourism, film, and culture Departments should be ashamed of their existence if they cannot find ways or means to protect what should rightly be preserved for generations to come. One is led to think of how in European or Western cultures, both the government and the people join together to uphold, preserve and protect as sacred in time, homes, parks, places, and even tombs where their artists, writers, sculptors or scientists lived, worked, or died…. Such that even today, in Europe you can gaze at the room where Dante lived and wrote his masterpiece. In Stratford-upon- Avon, England, the place is preserved in a way that almost makes you feel and sense Shakespeare and his village town come alive all around you.

It is high time, we as a people, woke up to care, and not be indifferent to one another amongst us, or to those that have left us the wealth of their creativity and intellect for our future generations, who make us who we are, and give us our identity in time.

Also read: The milk of kindness, and unkindness too

We, as a people, are perhaps an indifferent lot. Indifferent to our surroundings, to co-existing beings around us, indifferent to our neighbors and friends, with a don’t care attitude for the next one among us. True, there are exceptions. But why is that getting rare?

Are we not indifferent to the plastic wastes piling up in the streets in the monsoon rains? Those plastic packets lying on either side of our roads really breed the dreaded dengue. Are we not blissfully oblivious to that health hazard that we ourselves irresponsibly create? It isn’t just enough to keep our flower pots or buckets turned upside down as Shailaja teacher wants us to do. The plastic wastes in the streets are real dengue makers. What did the Government really do to get rid of them before the rains? Where are the DDT men, or the fumigating lot that used to be seen by the dozens with their spray machines on their backs that was a common sight until twenty years ago in Trivandrum streets, who kept knocking at our gates to spray the chemical, to prevent mosquito proliferation? I am sure the spraying machines are all rusting in Corporation backyards.

Added to our irresponsibility, we are a set of impatient people too. Our kind of impatience is visibly strong especially when we take our vehicles out into the streets. The car behind you keeps honking, honking for no reason, just because another vehicle is in front of it. It is like a Pavlovian reflex. Impatient to the point of even intimidating a poor driver trying to steer his way around. One has no time to slow down or even let a pedestrian pass. In our cars, our horns have become weapons used to intimidate fellow men. Honk, honk, and stare, as though the guy overtaking you could kill you for running on his ‘private road’. Wherever we are, wherever we go, we as a people do not give away an opportunity to boost our ego and selfishness.

How more callously indifferent or impatient are we? We reach our nadir in the ways, we show that we care not a bit for our departed souls. Recently I happened to visit the Portuguese graveyard in Thangaserry, Kollam. The Archaeology Department hasn’t visited the cemetery site in fifty years, say the tomb dwellers who have encroached upon the cemetery tombs and made them their homes, breaking almost every tomb there, and using their massive stones. Very interesting, how the local slum folk there, over the years, made their dwellings upon the dead bodies of the Portuguese men. Now there are almost no tombstones around. And… coming to think of it… The grave site should have been preserved as an Indian historical and heritage site, under the Protected Monuments Act.

Then again, the indifference we show our departed souls, those who have left lasting contributions to our culture, cinema, literature… how are we as a people treating such souls? With the greatest neglect. Nothing else. We talk in praise of our poets, our story tellers, our history makers, enjoy all their work, but what are we really doing to honor them, or to keep their memory alive for posterity? Nothing. Long years back I happened to visit the poet Kunjan Nambiar’s house…. A ramshackle house it lay… No historical depiction there about his unusual life as the father of Ottamthullal, or as King Mathanda Varma’s court poet, or his premature death bitten by a rabid dog. No one in our Culture Department seemed to bother. That was twenty years back. And to think of the utter dilapidation of Eraniel Palace of the Travancore kings…We as a people are quick to protect stone forms in the shapes of snakes or Ganapathis and to build temples and mint money on them… But how do we treat our brethren who left us the wealth of their creativity or intellect?

Today, somewhere in a Cherayinkil mosque, the shining star of the Malayalam black and white movie era, Prem Nazir’s tomb lies in sheer obscurity and abandon. His fine home is locked and is a feast for termites. Can't the government make the house a Nazir museum with collections of his films, voice recordings, and personal artifacts? Closer home, I happened to see the great Thikkurussi Sukumaran Nair’s house in Jawahar Nagar, in a most dilapidated and neglected condition. What are we as a people who claim to be an enlightened lot doing, watching such edifices that should be preserved for posterity, falling to dust before our very watching eyes? Our tourism, film, and culture Departments should be ashamed of their existence if they cannot find ways or means to protect what should rightly be preserved for generations to come. One is led to think of how in European or Western cultures, both the government and the people join together to uphold, preserve and protect as sacred in time, homes, parks, places, and even tombs where their artists, writers, sculptors or scientists lived, worked, or died…. Such that even today, in Europe you can gaze at the room where Dante lived and wrote his masterpiece. In Stratford-upon- Avon, England, the place is preserved in a way that almost makes you feel and sense Shakespeare and his village town come alive all around you.

It is high time, we as a people, wake up to care, and not be indifferent to one another amongst us, or to those that have left us the wealth of their creativity and intellect for our future generations, who make us who we are, and give us our identity in time.

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