I just finished reading the truly “magisterial” work by Guha – India After Gandhi, and in the epilogue he talks about why India still survives as a nation in spite of obituaries being written by the world at large every 10 years or so. There are a few brilliant lines towards the end of the epilogue, and I feel compelled to reproduce them here.
“The writer whose lines open this book, the nineteenth century poet Ghalib, thought that God was indeed on the side of India. All around him were conflict and privation, but doomsday had not yet come. “Why does not the last trumpet sound” asked Ghalib of a sage in the holy city of Benares. “Who holds the reins of the Final Catastrophe?” This was the answer he got:
The hoary old man of lucent ken
Pointed towards Kashi and gently smiled.
‘The Architect’, he said, ‘is fond of this edifice
Because of which there is colour in life; He
Would not like it to perish and fall’.
I just rewatched V for Vendetta, one of my all time favourite movies (hat tip to Alan Moore) [Edit: He apparently hates the movie, so I have been advised not to mention the movie and him in the same breath] and was once again awed by the beauty of the dialogues and screenplay. The more famous ones are reproduced frequently, like V’s introduction in the movie, and his speech to the people on TV. However there are a few beautiful moments in the sequence where V puts Evey through a fake incarceration. The exchanges in the letters of Valerie, excerpts below:
“It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one. An inch. It is small and it is fragile and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must NEVER let them take it from us. I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place. I hope that the worlds turns, and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. Valerie. “
“Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free.”
If you haven’t already, read the novel, then watch the movie.