ON LOVE

‘Love’ is a much-used word and it may mean a lot of things. It is a feeling, an emotion, a special liking for someone or something. It is associated with heterosexual and homosexual relationship. It could be something negative if it becomes self-love. On the other hand, there is elevated love known as ‘prema’ by Hindus or ‘ishq’ by Muslims. It is the unconditional and selfless love of God. For Christians ‘GOD IS LOVE’, a very explicit message found in the New Testament which extols the virtues of love and forgiveness. In a letter to the Corinthians, St Paul wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Today, William Blake’s Garden of Love has become a field covered with tangled thorny thickets watered with selfishness and greed. Love is perceived as a disposable commodity which can be bought and sold. Selfless love has been replaced by self-love and selfish love. Can we stop this downhill fall? Do we have time enough. A report by French scientists published on SEPTEMBER 17, 2019 predict a sharp rise in temperature by the end of this century accompanied by horrendous climatic conditions worldwide. Earth is warming more quickly than thought. By 2100, average temperatures could rise 7.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels if carbon emissions continue unabated, separate models from two leading research centres in France showed.

Science and Pope Francis are warning us that grave danger looms ahead but we prefer to listen to the denial industry funded by the great polluters of this world. Only love which generates care, solidarity and sharing can stop this moral decline but we prefer to listen to promises of increased wealth.

Will we be touched by works of art or by beautiful songs such as this one by Jean Ferrat?

C’EST BEAU LA VIE
Le vent dans tes cheveux blonds, le soleil à l’horizon
Quelques mots d’une chanson, que c’est beau, c’est beau la vie
Un oiseau qui fait la roue sur un arbre déjà roux
Et son cri par dessus tout, que c’est beau, c’est beau la vie.

Tout ce qui tremble et palpite, tout ce qui lutte et se bat
Tout ce que j’ai cru trop vite à jamais perdu pour moi
Pouvoir encore regarder, pouvoir encore écouter
Et surtout pouvoir chanter, que c’est beau, c’est beau la vie.

Le jazz ouvert dans la nuit, sa trompette qui nous suit
Dans une rue de Paris, que c’est beau, c’est beau la vie.
La rouge fleur éclatée d’un néon qui fait trembler
Nos deux ombres étonnées, que c’est beau, c’est beau la vie.

Tout ce que j’ai failli perdre, tout ce qui m’est redonné
Aujourd’hui me monte aux lèvres en cette fin de journée
Pouvoir encore partager ma jeunesse, mes idées
Avec l’amour retrouvé, que c’est beau, c’est beau la vie.
Pouvoir encore te parler, pouvoir encore t’embrasser
Te le dire et le chanter, oui c’est beau, c’est beau la vie.

LAVI ZOLI
Divan dan seve frengan, soley pa rod paravan
Parol enn sante lontan, li zoli, lavi zoli
Enn zwazo lao-lao ranz so nik lor pie koko
So sante pa konn defo, li zoli, lavi zoli.

Tou seki bouze, vibre, tou seki zame kile
Tou seki dan mo krwayans zame pa pou retourne
Tank lizie ankor trouve, e zorey ankor tande
Tank kapav ankor sante, li zoli, lavi zoli.

Kan lamizik Ernest Wiehe pe soufle ler prefere
Dan lari lavil Porlwi, li zoli, lavi zoli
Kan rouz boukiebanane dir nou pa dekouraze
Parski lavi kontinie, li zoli, lavi zoli.

Tou seki mo finn perdi, tou seki mo finn gagne
Zordi ape revini ler soley pe al kouse
Kan kapav ankor done, mo lafors ek mo lide,
Kan lamour pa pe boude, li zoli, zoli lavi.
Kan ankor kapav koze, ankor anvi anbrase
Dir tousa ar melodi, li zoli, zoli lavi.

18.09.19

WHEN WILL WE EVER LEARN?

Human beings believe that the world is theirs for the taking. It is the privilege of intelligence. Consequently, the land, sea, air and space (the whole of creation) is their God-given patrimony for their enjoyment. This is how they read the holy texts. Is there a different way of looking at our so-called rights? Yes, there is.

According to great visionaries, luminaries and intellectuals we have more duties than rights.

According to the old mindset which still determines behaviour, ‘might is right’. The strong tribe has no qualms about subduing and exploiting the weak one. The powerful country has no qualms about invading and pillaging weaker countries. The macho has no qualms about harassing, bullying, raping, molesting and killing weaker people, especially women and children. Intelligent creatures should use their intelligence to behave more intelligently. They should know that all over the universe, intelligent species have clear duties to perform. The first duty is to know ‘oneself’ and find out how it all started. Did the Big Bang start by itself or was it the product of a will? Are we here to enjoy the fruits of creation or should we consider ourselves as stewards of creation? What are the main duties of Earth stewards?

The economic system which now dominates the planet with its Trump, Xi Jinping, Putin, Netanyahu, Modi, Bolsonaro and other devotees of Mammon spells ruin and desolation for 99% of the world population and opulence and luxury for 1%. In Mauritius, all main political parties are agents of greedy and selfish Mammon and Mauritian big money is tied up with world big money.

God gave us a garden and now it’s turning into a graveyard. This was the message of Pope Francis and not ‘Keep Mauritius clean to attract tourists’ but our political, economic and religious leaders chose to hear the latter.

Instead of singing the praise of power, I prefer to sing with Bob Dylan and think of the new world of solidarity and sharing we have to build for our grandchildren.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

I can also sing it in Mauritian: So repons Pe Santé dan Divan

Komie mil ki nou bizen krazé
Avan ki zot rekonet nou
Komie brizan nou bizen traversé
Pou ki nou kapav repozé
Ki kantité bom nou bizen zeté
Avan ki lapé triyonfé
So repons matlo pe santé dan divan
So repons pe santé dan divan

Komie letan enn montagn dibouté
Avan ki bann vag aval li
Komie letan dimoun bizen soufer
Avan ki bann lasenn kasé
Komie letan nou pou tourn nou lizié
Fer kwar ki nou pa pe trouvé
So repons matlo pe santé dan divan
So repons pe santé dan divan

Komie letan nou bizen get lao
Avan nou dekouver lesiel
Komie zorey ki nou tou nou bizen
Avan nou tann zanfan ploré
Komie disan ki nou bizen versé
Pou ki nou kriye for “Asé!”
So repons matlo pe santé dan divan
So repons pe santé dan divan

16.09.19

I BELIEVE

As a Hindu, I believe in the concept of ‘avtarr’ (avatar) i.e. the Holy Spirit may at times take a human shape to guide humanity as Lord Krishna did in the Mahabharata. In the Old Testament, Moses another ‘avtarr’ guided mankind on the path to freedom. Then the Holy Spirit in the shape of Jesus came to teach us Love and Mercy; some 500 years later another ‘avtarr’ came in the shape of Prophet Muhammad to teach us solidarity and sharing.

I believe, as a non-practising Hindu, that the present time is perhaps the most dangerous humanity has had to face. The planet is in danger of death as a result of our doings. Our very existence is at stake. Very urgent and drastic changes are to be contemplated. Fossil fuels have to be banned and replaced by renewables; forests have to be ‘replanted’; intensive chemical-dependent monoculture has to be replaced by organic agriculture which “is a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs. It is a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pest and diseases” (F.A.O). Animal husbandry must be radically changed; consumerism must be curbed and wastage eliminated. Who will do this?

Most powerful political leaders are in cahoots with the world oligarchs who will use all means, by hook or by crook, to maintain the status quo. Quite a few religious, social and cultural leaders are mere doormats of the rich. The peoples of the world are at a loss. Hence, a general feeling of despair, especially among the youths who have lost their bearings.

In this situation of general morass and chaos, suddenly a clear and powerful voice is heard: that of Pope Francis. In very clear terms blended with full moral authority he, without fear, tells us what is to be done. The system of production and consumption worshipped by the rich and powerful is wrong; it is killing the planet; it generates injustice; it is destroying “Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love”.

Pope Francis is our present day ‘avtarr’, the divine with a human face whose coming was perhaps announced 250 years ago by the great visionary William Blake in the poem, THE DIVINE IMAGE.

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

The Mauritian version also exists:

                     PORTRÉ BONDIE

Pardon, Pitié, Lapé, Lamour
Nou priyé dan traka;
Kan lapriyer finn ekzosé
Nou dir mersi Papa.

Pardon, Pitié, Lapé, Lamour
Limem Mama-Papa;
Pardon, Pitié, Lapé, Lamour
Se So Zanfan, twa, mwa.

Pardon ena leker imen;
Pitié se so vizaz;
Lamour se Bondie vinn imen;
Lapé se lenz dimoun.

Kan dimoun partou kote
Pe priyé dan traka,
Zot priyé Bondie vinn imen:
Lamour, Pardon, Pitié, Lapé.

Bizen kontan Bondie Imen
Ki li payen ou Zwif.
Kan Pardon, Lamour, Pitié la
Bondie ‘si li la.

13.09.19

LITERARY PROSE

Let us look at the opening paragraphs of FRANZ KAFKA’S ‘METAMORPHOSIS’ translated by David Wyllie.

“One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table – Samsa was a travelling salesman – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.”

We note the following:

• The story is told by an omniscient narrator who controls the whole situation and goes straight to the point. There is no dilly-dallying.
• The past tense is used throughout.
• There is a variety of sentences: simple, compound and complex.
• Direct and reported speeches are used.
• The descriptive technique is as precise and succinct as a surgeon’s scalpel. Samsa is lower-middle class (a travelling salesman) and his life is far from being exciting. His room is small, the picture on the wall has been cut from a magazine and the picture frame is gilded – not genuine. The lady in fur seems to symbolize the fame and fortune people dream of to forget a dreary reality – the table covered with samples. Is the fur used to hide poverty?
• The punctuation marks help the reader to negotiate the meaning of the text and are vital for proper understanding.

This is good prose. It is the kind of prose which journalists master to tell their ‘stories’. Please note that in English ‘story’ also means a news item and the term ‘un/une story’ has entered the French language.

Now study the Mauritian version which is an attempt to develop ‘literary prose’ in our national language.

“Enn gramaten, ler Gregor Samsa so somey, trouble par kosmar terib, ti kase, li ti dekouver ki, lor so lili, li ti finn vinn enn bebet kouma enn kankretorti zean. Li ti alonze lor so ledo-lakok, e ler li ti lev so latet enn tigit li ti kapav get so vant maron ki ti enpe sorti e ki ti akot kouma tol kannle. So dra ti vinn tro tipti pou kouver so gro vant e koumadir li ti pre pou glise, tonbe. So bann lapat meg-meg konpare ar so lekor ti pe bat fol dan ler.

“Ki finn ariv mwa?” li ti panse. Pa ti enn rev sa. So lasam, enn lasam normal, enpe tipti kikfwa, ti pe repoz anpe ant kat miray familie. Lor latab ti ena enn koleksion santiyon latwal – Samsa ti enn revander anbilan – e lao lor miray ti ena enn foto ki li ti koupe dan enn revi e ki li ti met dan enn kad kouler larzan. Foto la ti montre enn madam ki ti ena enn sapo fourir, enn esarp fourir otour so likou. Li ti asiz drwat e li ti pe ris enn fouro fourir otour so lame ek avanbra ki ti leve ver dimoun ki pe get foto la.”

You will certainly note that the past tense marker ‘ti’ is used systematically whereas in speech and oral literature, it is dropped once it has been established that the narrative takes place in the past. You may wonder whether this is necessary. I do think it is necessary but you may not.

Learning to read any language is difficult for we are not genetically programmed to do it but learning to read prose be it journalistic or literary is a very complex matter which demands a lot of painful practice. A prose writing and reading culture in a new language takes a lot of efforts and time to develop.

31.08.19

HAMLET’S SOLILOQUY/MONOLOG HAMLET

Hamlet’s soliloquy reveals the anguish of a young man in the midst of great turmoil and shows the hard road to self-discovery and full realization of one’s duty. From soliloquy to soliloquy we witness the young prince’s spiritual growth up to the point where he finally understands that he will have to die to purge his world:

“Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?” (Act 5, Scene 2)

This is why he is considered as a Christ-like figure. Now compare and contrast the 2 texts (the original and the Mauritian version) and comment on the power of the Mauritian language to say what Shakespeare had to say.

HAMLET: To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. (Act 3 Scene 1)

VERSION MORISIEN

Monolog Hamlet li montre touman enn zenn dimoun ki pe fer fas enn tabisman lamerdman e li dir ki kantite li difisil pou konn nou prop profon e dekouver ki nou bizen fer. Monolog apre monolog nou swiv sa zenn prens la so devlopman spiritiel ziska ki li dekouver ki lamor parfwa neseser pou pirifie lemonn.

“Non Horasio. Siperstision, ezitasion kapon pa pou blok mo lelan. Ena lame Bondie ladan. Si ena pou tonbe aster va tonbe aster. Mo swiv mo desten. Personn pa kone ki lamor ete. Kifer nou per?” (Ak 5 Senn 2)

Ala kifer ena kritik dir ki li resanble Zezikri. Etidie ek konpar sa de tex la (version orizinal ek version Morisien) e dir seki ou panse. Eski lang Morisien ena lafors pou dir seki Shakespeare ti dir.

HAMLET: Viv ou aret viv, samem gran kestion –
Eski li meyer fer fas bann maler,
Manz ar tourman, traka ek tourdisman
Ziska ki zot fonn. Ferm lizie, dormi –
Samem tou; servi somey pou efas
Fristrasion, lapenn, bann mizer anvrak
Ki kraz nou kor – ki pli zoli ki sa?
Enn kout sek tou tengn. Ferm lizie, dormi –
Dormi e kikfwa reve. Ayaya!
Samem douk la. Ler lamor finn pran nou
Ki kalite rev vinn fer nou letour?
Sa papa, ki veritab manzer krann.
Akoz samem nou tini-tini mem
Malgre ki toufann chom nou par lagorz;
Nou manz nou margoz, aksepte soufrans
Kan li telman fasil tengn lalimier.
Kifer nou rente, fer fas kriz lor kriz?
Parski personn pa kone ki ena
Lot kote brizan lavi lor later;
Tansion sap dan karay tom dan dife,
Nou bostait, pil anplas. Laverite
Se ki nou krake. Plis nou reflesi
Plis nou gagn tarrtarri e bann gran plan
Anpandan lor lakord.
(Ak 3 Senn 1)

29.08.19