Window - Jerry Pinto
“Jerry Pinto is an author who tries to think and write and translate in the cacophony of Mumbai”
This bio for a newspaper, written by the poet himself, is a great preamble to today’s poem. Like many other artists from the city, Pinto’s writing has that lingering aroma of the “cacophony of Mumbai”. Think of its noises, smells, spirit of enterprise, its jostling efflorescence and its quiet, claustrophobic lonesome breath. Think of a schizophrenic city that haggles with its own people, that makes them beg for a fistfull of sky, and then surprises them with an uncharacteristic smile, a peck on the cheek, a naughty embrace. The city itself is a window, and its inhabitants peek out from their jigsaw existence, having realigned their lenses, and finding new words for “space”, “perspective”, “insider” and “outsider”. This tug-of-war between acceptance and territoriality is a hallmark of the city, and of our lives. It is what defines our political landscape today, and an integral part of the very conception of historical development of the country.
The window is a perfect metaphor for this. I have shared in the past another poem about a window (by Ismail). It provides a different perspective, and nuances this question with great simplicity.
Pinto’s poem, I read today, in a completely different light. I read into this poem, a state that is giving its people a window; a government that has shut in its people with the violence of its ambition. People jostle for space, protest, resist. But the state is relentless - what it offers is perplexing. It plays with us, gives us a window - of secular-like statements, and small notional victories, but continues to keep us inside, and refuses anything more than a sliver of hope, that enters the room through the blinds. As the collective voice of pain and resistance rises in a crescendo, our leaders sit quiet, and in the wings, the work of the Hindu Rashtra continues. How long will they imprison the “sky”?