This Above all
Sikhs and kirpans
Khushwant Singh Khushwant Singh

A school in Quebec (Canada) has banned Sikh students from entering classes carrying kirpans. Sikh organisations have protested that the kirpan is a religious symbol and no one has the right to ban it. Although a Sikh, I find myself in the opposite camp.

When Guru Gobind Singh made wearing kirpans obligatory, he had good reasons to do so. At that time, Sikhs were fighting Mughal tyranny and it was necessary to be armed all the time. Since then conditions have changed.

Sikhs going abroad are not allowed to carry kirpans on board
Sikhs going abroad are not allowed to carry kirpans on board

Most Sikhs realised this and wore a one-inch emblem attached to their combs and hidden under folds of their turbans. So far in India only one Sikh, elected member of the Lok Sabha, made an issue of it and refused to enter the House unless allowed to keep his full-sized kirpan with him.

When that was refused, he refused to do his duty as an elected member. No one took him seriously; he was severely tortured by the police and lost his balance of mind. Other Sikh MPs, including Jathedar G.S. Tohra, president of the Sikh apex body, the SGPC, for over 13 years, made no fuss over it.

Sikhs going abroad are not allowed to carry kirpans on board. All going abroad readily comply. So what justification is there to make it an issue? Just an excuse to get free publicity.

Utpal Dutt

Utpal Dutt died in August 1993 at the age of 64. He made a name for himself as actor, director and composer in the film world. Not many people knew that he also wrote poetry. It was after his death that his close friends translated his poems from Bengali to English first in 1996. The original Bengali version of Din Badaler Kobita is now available in English, translated by Shankar Sen as Poetry of Changing Times published by Samit Sarkar. I have picked up two verses. The first is entitled Song of Kolkata-1 :

How many more abuses shall you fling at my sweetheart?

How long more shall you go on calling her a tainted tart?

Her clothes are tattered, coated with dust;

She is said to have traded her body as an object of lust;

Yet I adore her face torn by sadness;

She’s my night’s solace, my day’s happiness;

She wipes off my sweat;

With her calloused hands, ever alert;

Kolkata is the name of my beloved sweetheart.

The following lines are from Song of Kolkata-3:

You have compared (my) Kolkata to a nightmare;

And called her a terrible city of processions;

Yes, Kolkata was always the ruler’s nightmare;

Her processions strike despots with cold apprehensions;

Kolkata pays no heed to any momentary spell of dejection;

She has eyes for the yellow streak of the coming day all along; Waits for the dawn with her chest filled with burning repulsion; The last warning bell for the oppressors start ringing ding dong.

Theory of relativity

Einstein, the renowned scientist, propounded the Theory of Relativity in 1915. But this theory was not easily comprehensible. Even now it is not. Einstein, in a lecture, explained this theory like this: "When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. This is relativity."

Arthur Henry Bullen (1857-1920), British editor, poet and founder of Shakespeare Head Press, explained this theory more appropriately like this:

There was a young lady named Bright;

Who travelled much faster than light;

She started one day;

In the relative way;

And returned on the previous night. T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), American-British poet, wrote the following lines about old age: Thou have neither youth nor age;

But as it were, an after dinner sleep;

Dreaming on both.

(Courtesy: Ram Niwas Malik, Gurgaon)

Drink directly

Banta: Even at the age of 96, my grandfather never used glasses.

Santa: I know. Some people drink directly from the bottle.

(Contributed by JP Singh Kaka, Bhopal)