A Civil War? Never!
Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh

The killings of 76 CRPF jawans have shaken us out of our stupor. We lived in the belief that all was well with the nation and could indulge in happy daydreaming. Everything seems to have gone wrong in Dantewada; the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh and his administrators have much to answer for. Thousands of villagers were receiving lethal weapons, being drilled like soldiers and yet the district police was caught napping. Surely, it must have known what was going on. Then why did it allow unlicensed arms to go unchecked? A vast tract of forestland had been converted into a minefield and yet no warning was issued to the CRPF that its personnel were walking into a death trap!

I have little doubt that if the Central Government wants to crush the Maoist rebellion, it could do it within a few days by deploying its Army and the Air Force. But that would be very unwise and only bring us peace for a few years. The malaise has gone much deeper because we have allowed exploiters to deprive the tribals, who rely on forests to provide their livelihood. We must not let confrontation with their armed gangs to escalate into a mini civil war. After we have deprived them of their guns, we must talk to their leaders, restore their forestlands and bring them into the mainstream of Indian life. The word adivasi has to be made an anachronism.


CRPF personnel pay a tribute to the jawans who lost their lives in the recent attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh Photo: AFP

Ever since Jyotsna Varma moved to Manila to take up her job with Asian Bank, she has been besotted by the writings of Haruki Murakami. She told me about him when she was in Delhi for a couple of days. On her way back, she picked up a collection of his short stories and sent these to me. I was fascinated but felt that they had very little story content in the conventional sense, but still managed to hold the readers’ attention. Last month, Jyotsna was back in Delhi for the release of her father Ram Varma’s Before He was God: Ramayana Reconsidered Recreated. She was still bubbling with praise for Murakami. And once again, on her way back she sent me a copy of Murakami’s first novel Norwegian Wood (Vintage) published in 1984. The title did not seem to make any sense. I was halfway through the novel before I discovered it was the name of a Beatles’ song. Murakami started his working life, setting up a Jazz Club in Tokyo, which also sold cassettes of classical and modern western music. The enormous success of Norwegian Wood pitchforked him into the world of literature as a first-novel celebrity. Then, for reasons I can only guess, he fled Japan and stayed abroad for eight years before returning home: Jap fundoos could not stomach his portrayal of Japanese youth.

As it happened, I spent a few months in Japan and visited many places Murakami writes about: Kyoto (where he was born in 1949), Tokyo, Nara, Kobe, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I spent all my time with students. I found them very proper, over-polite and straight-laced. Murakami’s students are hard drinkers taking beer, whisky and sake by the gallon. They watch porn movies and have girlfriends, eager to lose their virginity. Murakami describes their sexploits in minute detail and a lot of relish; omitting no form of sex relationship, sex in different postures, lesbian, onanist. Compared to the novel, our Kama Sutra reads like a child’s primer. I confess I was totally engrossed by it. At the end, I was not sure if the week I had spent reading it, had been worthwhile. I came to the conclusion that it had been an enjoyable waste of time.

Bank robbery

An armed, hooded man bursts into the Bank of Ireland and forces the tellers to load a sack full of cash. On his way out, along with the loot, a brave Irish customer grabs his hood and pulls it off revealing the robber’s face. The robber shoots the guy without hesitation. He then looks around the bank to see if anyone else has seen him. One of the tellers is looking straight at him and the robber shoots him also. Everyone by now is very scared and looking down the door. “Did anyone else see my face?” calls the robber. There are a few moments of silence, then one elderly Irish gentlemen tentatively raises his hand and says: “I think my wife may have caught a glimpse.”

Funny Ads?

In a hospital waiting room: Smoking helps you lose weight, one lung at a time!

Seen on a bulletin board: Success is relative. The more the success, the more the relatives.

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.

My grandfather is eighty and still doesn’t need glasses. He drinks straight out of the bottle.

You know your kids have grown up when: Your daughter begins to put on lipstick, or your son starts to wipe it off.

Sign in a bar: Those of you who are drinking to forget please pay in advance.

Sign in a driving school: If your wife wants to learn to drive, don’t stand in her way.

(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, New Delhi)