Husainsaab, aren’t you disgusted?

He does not need enemies even in death; he has friends. A look at the tributes reveals just how everyone is riding on the secular gravy cart with their own agenda.

Isn't there any sense of proportion? Above its masthead, the Times of India has quotes from well-known people about the controversies. What about his art? And then there is the headline:

'Hounded By Hindu Extremists, Our Most Famous Artist Breathes His Last In London, A Qatari National
M F Husain’s Death Stokes Anger And Regret Back Home'

Did he breathe his last because he was hounded? Where is the stoking of anger and regret? This has been expressed earlier, so what is new about it? This is irresponsible.

I am aware that the TOI has to keep its moneyed advertisers happy, and irrespective of what their political/communal views are in private, Husain was their idea of the perfect Indian, although they were happier in the Alps.

And I am quite sick of reading about "India's Picasso". On the one hand, he is called our pride and then they shamelessly hang on to some other crutch to validate him. Can he not just be Husain?

If he wished to be buried in India, I hope this will be granted to him. Many criminals are in our graveyards and crematoria. And that he was not.

I do not know the reasons and I do not care, but this from the same report stood out as the most sensible bit:

BJP condoled his death and said it was not the right time to comment on controversies that surrounded him. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said, “May Allah give him peace,” while MNS chief Raj Thackeray called for Husain to be buried in Maharashtra, the artist’s birthplace.

Compared to this, TOI used a wicked comparison:

Like Husain, he too lived abroad, but at 89, Sayed Haider Raza was back in India, the motherland he left 60 years ago. Regretting Husain’s death in exile, Raza, the last living member of the Progressive Artists’ Group, said, “If I had been in his place where some of my ideas or paintings offended the Hindu community I would have apologized, explained myself and talked it over. I don’t know if that was done…one has to be very careful in these things.”

Raza went of his own accord and there was no controversy. Why are they raking up the apology business now? Don’t you see? They get a Muslim artist to say it. The good guy.

Here are a few quotes that are revealing, and my response to them:

"The only way Cong can atone for not defending Husain is by posthumously awarding him the Bharat Ratna."

- Ramchandra Guha, historian

Of course, this is what governments do. It is puerile to suggest that an award is atonement enough, if any is required at all.

"The stupid controversy was motivated; it was created by bad politicians for publicity and to serve their own interest. One of these days, I’ll name those culprits."

- Anjolie Ela Menon, artist

Is she an investigative reporter? If so, it has taken her a long time to wake up. Is there any use protecting the dead?

"None of our supposed tolerance applied to Husain. We should hang our heads in shame."

- Shyam Benegal, film director

Did Husain need 'tolerance'? Did these people stop doing their work in a place where they want to hang their heads in shame?

"The manner in which Husain died reflects a false people in a great nation."

- Jatin Das, artist

A nation is made up of people.

"Being Muslim was only accidental…And that is exactly why he was so totally taken aback when the attacks on him began. Of all things, for denigrating Hindu gods and goddesses. He lived, breathed, talked about Indian culture all the time, and for him Indian culture was synonymous with Hindu culture. He was as Hindu as any one of us, in spirit if not in faith. His worked was steeped in our culture and mythology."

- Pritish Nandy, writer

Why is it so important to be a ‘Hindu’ when his being a Muslim was “accidental” as it is for all? And on what grounds does Nandy talk about Indian culture being synonymous with Hindu culture? Husain used mythology because he found it interesting, just as Raza uses the ‘shunya’. Indian culture is an amalgamation of various regional cultures and influences of colonisers. Had he chosen to paint miniatures would he be seen as Muslim? Does stained glass painting make an artist a Christian?

As for living and breathing Indian culture, perhaps one might like to check out how much of it our high society does so. Will they need a certificate for their Indiannness?

Leave him be...and if he wanted Mumbai falooda, then there are several Indian restaurants in London where he spent his last days. In his state, he might have been happy enough to get it...or from the several eateries in Southall, both Indian and Pakistani, that serve it. They also make it pink like the Crawford Market one. But then exile would not sound so romantic.

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My other views were expressed here yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. M.F.Husain was buried in Surrey, England. He wanted to rest wherever he was at the time. Is there any need to talk in terms of "Did we reject him or did he reject us?" He was probably just pragmatic or, dare I say, being Muslim, for the ideal is immediate burial. I guess they had to use a closed coffin due to British requirements; Islam expects only a wrapped cloth. Also by way of information, no marble or any other sort of slab id to be used over graves. Many rich Muslims do not bother. Therefore, the tombstones at dargags do not have the remains of the saint.

    This is my Mossie contribution for the day.


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