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The Demon in 15 Dresses (Prose Poem)

– Rajiv Mudgal

In troubled times such as ours, I have often asked (myself) this question, that is as to from whence comes this violence, this hate, this beast in 15 dresses and every-time I have asked this question, a demon would quietly slip inside the beat of my heart and whisper softly in his familiar and facsimile sardonic voice: “Piety” “Love” “Truth”. But how am I a mortal to believe in a voice so strange, so sweet and so vulgar! No… I am not buying into him, nevertheless it keeps whispering “To anchor, to hold on, In piety everything can be radicalised, but behold and beware of the Demon in 15 dresses, for she is the piety that parades as democracy.”

But I know or at least, I have glimpsed him in my other worldly deliriums… -yes I know, and I am sure as to what and who this demon in fifteen dresses is and it certainly is not democracy, for can democracy ever be radicalised. “Sure” the demon kept tormenting me, “Sure; if it knows itself, if it knows with full certainty as to who she is” and then it whispered again and this time in a slow and deliberate echo that kept filling the hollow contours of my heart. “Sure…If it knows itself as ‘the’ saving power, it will then my friend know its other: -that is its immediate enemies, its friends and foes, and then out of its own immaculate piety will be born a demon whose will and power remains to this day unheard and unseen in the three worlds. Beware, behold, Aladdin could control his jinns, but modern man knows of no sure way to keep his in check, nor does he know his way out of this labyrinth that he himself has created; and has fashioned it in the name of human values and ultimate good.”

Its been time, and time never ends for me, nor does this thought which returns to haunt my dreams but nowadays it even visits my ever diminishing wakeful hours and I wonder whether I a mortal ever could in this mute and voiceless hour hold on to my own without falling into the subtle traps that entice us, evoke us, call us to their task as-If we are its children. Can I especially in the face of such colossal tragedy that has befallen me endure in the shining and the showing (of truth and divinity) or will I see him, glimpse him, he that rides on the mark that separates ‘us‘ from ‘them‘.

In an hour such as this, In times such as these, where am I to go looking for my answers, and In what am I to put my sacred trust.

Today…can I even frame such questions – realistically. And to see again and feel again am I to become that bald man in dhoti with rounded eyeglasses! -and why is his call of Satyagraha so frightful, so terrible, especially in the face of the impending storms that entrust us to their perceptual violence.

Having abandoned him (the bald man in dhoti with rounded eyeglasses) what other ways, what other paths are open for me and where will they lead us -ultimately?

Where is the way, what are the paths; and is there a ‘piety’ beyond what holds “us” from “them” and beyond it a shining region outside of the futures opened-up by liberal and capital driven democratic frameworks, complete with their immaculate ordeal of right[s] and justice!

Or maybe the Demon is right after all and there might be some truth in his vulgar and vague hauntings; -that there were and are (ultimately) only two paths, one of resignation and the other of a counter strike (so harsh and persistent) and whose reign ends only with the total and complete destruction of our enemy.

Today,
My options have vanished, my alternative have dissolved and there only lingers the cunning of my voice. and still; about my speech, my tongue, my touch, who knows him that saturates them more then me. I who is but a mere mortal.
and still…!
“The Demon in 15 Dresses”, who is he after all?

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