For Gauri - Mamta Sagar
Three years ago, on this day, footsoldiers of a ruthless, anti-thought ideology attempted to silence the voice of a people. Gauri Lankesh wasn’t just a journalist. As the editor of the weekly “Gauri Lankesh Patrike”, and through her work as an activist, Gauri Lankesh became akka (sister) to the oppressed and the underprivileged, lending her voice and her strength to social movements across Karnataka. Rajendra Chenni writes:
“Many of us had not realised how Gauri had become an integral part of the Kannada imagination. She had become a symbol of empathy, succour and support for thousands. When we saw an ocean of young faces, all declaring "I am Gauri" when we gathered at Bengaluru to protest her killing, we understood that the Gubbachchi (little sparrow or little one of a sparrow) had metamorphosed into a tidal force of democracy and dissent.” This voice of dissent, that fought for justice, and ran a weekly missive of freedom, struck terror in the hearts of fascists and Hindutva hyper masculine forces everywhere. Her murder in her own home unleashed a roar of protests and rallies across the country. Shortly after her death, the poem I’m sharing today, composed and rendered as a brooding, sombre anthem of resistance by Vasu Dixit and Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy, captured the anger and fire of the people who rose up as one. The film Namma Gauri directed by Deepu in the thick of venom spewed by trolls who attempted to slander her memory, is an important documentary that captures the essence of the revolutionary life of a friend, leader and colleague in activism. The poem is also featured towards the end of the film.
Today on the 3rd anniversary of her murder, underwritten by the state, there is a call for protests across the country by civil society groups under the banner #ifwedonotrise. Rest in Power, Gauri. Rest in Power, Kalburgi, Pansare, Dhabolkar and other fearless voices. Note. I have shared the poem in its original Kannada as well. Personally, I find the poem more potent in Kannada. Make sure you listen to the video of Vasu and Bindhumalini singing the poem in Kannada