Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Marquez, Gurgaon and Tirunelveli

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the name flaunted about by serious literature types - the high priest of novels. Precisely for the same reason, I was afraid to start any book of his. Last week overcame my fear and started with One Hundred Years of Solitude. Surprisingly, it was a cohesive narrative and a good story - not as difficult as I thought it would be. This one novel thought me many techniques, how to vary the pace of the novel, how to mix reality with the unreal. The end of the book was really violent, something tears inside you when you read about the destruction of the clan of Buendia and the town of Mocando. I am still grappling with the ideas of the book, that I am not yet ready to write about it.

Midway through the novel, he writes about the strike of the plantation labor. After many failed attempts to sort out their issues with the management, they resort to strike. The police force cold bloodedly spread the news that the management team is arriving by train to sort the issues out. The workers assemble and wait for hours for the non arriving train. Suddenly the police announce that the crowd has formed without permission, and give them five minutes to disperse or they will be shot. A protester says "I think they might really shoot all of us". They are shot, all three thousand four hundred and eight of them, and the bodies taken in the train to be dumped into the sea. The entire scene is cleared up, and the sole survivor Jose Arcadio Segundo is not believed by anybody when he says that all were shot.

Similar to what happened in Gurgaon yesterday, except here they were only lathi charged and that it was caught on camera. There is no point in blaming the police, the first reports say that the small police force was attacked by the employees and the police came back with stronger force and retaliated. The real blame is with allowing the problem to fester for so long. Hidden in the news reports is the statement, that the Honda workers protested because somebody in the management hit a worker. Those who spoke in support of him were suspended / dismissed. And that led to the strike. So much brutality because of a slap.

Something similar happened in Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu im 1999. Estate workers were on strike and during the procession they were alleged to have molested a police women. The police started chasing the protesters, literally made them jump into the Tamirabharani river, 19 people dead. In such situations, who is to blame - the protesters or the police. I think it should be those who let the problem to fester and blow up.


Ramnath said...

you should also try his memoir 'living to tell the tale'. i have the book - in case you want.

Somu said...

The root of the problem is never addressed. And so there is more focus on getting the crowd disperse that it eventually leads to protests and lathi charges.

Anyways, no one is to be blamed. People are protesting for what they have been rightfully denied and the police is retaliating to protect themselves.

Chenthil said...

Ramnath, would love to get the book. Will call you about it

Somu, true.