The four new Keithel complexes (traditional vending markets), one at New Lambulane meant as a tribal market, and three more at the Khwairamband which are actually modern reconstructions of existing old Keithels, might as well have been named as Market No.1, 2 , 3 and 4 etc. That however would have been so unromantic and reductionist. They would have happened at the heights of the modernist era which tried to do away romance calling it silly. Recall what Bertrand Russell had to say in his “ABC of Relativity”. The man with a clinical mind who is credited of possessing the ability to explain and make intelligible even the most complex scientific phenomenon, in this book explains Albert Einstein’s mathematics in the layman’s terms. In describing the attributes of gravity, says only the poet can afford to say rivers flow towards the sea because they are attracted by the sea’s mystery, but a scientist can only see it in terms of the physical laws of nature. In the case of Einstein the manifestation of this gravitational law was geodesics, or the path of least resistance any form of energy takes in seeking to come to equilibrium. This approach was exactly the modernist project of the Communist state of the former USSR took. Recall Belsan School Number One, Belsan SNO, as it was also called, which came under siege by Chechen rebels along with 1100 hostages, of whom more than 300 were killed. The logic behind these names was plain and simple utilitarianism. From this perspective a name is just a matter of providing an identification handle, nothing more.
How boring? This rhetorical question is significant from the postmodern outlook. This concern was also explicitly and humorously stated by 1998 Booker Prize winning British author, Ian McEwan, in his novel “Amsterdam” when he made his protagonist proclaim that life and all its driving logics, is an eternal struggle against boredom. If this is agreed upon then the prospect of giving meaning to life would become an altogether different agenda. Above all else, life’s mission would then be very much about embellishing it would poetry. As a matter of fact, life itself would come to be interpreted in terms of poetic values. Its beauty would also be in its eternal mysteries and not in reducing everything about it to the profane and literal. Its essence would hence be in the ability to distinguish love from lust, marriage from cohabitation, in realising the infinite depth of feeling each and every individual is capable of, or in his capacity to absorb the beauty of the bees in the sun, or the mystery of the flower they sit on. Nikos Kazantzakis’ “Zorba the Greek” means very much the same thing when he exclaims and tries to make a distinction between social disciplining, important as it is, and individual flair. He tells his boss: “When I am at work, I am your man, but when I am singing or dancing in the rain, I am my own master.” In a similar vein, at another point, he exclaims that “A man needs some madness in life, or else he will never be able to break the rope and be free.”
It is life’s essential poetry which gives in enduring meaning. Why for instance is there so much empathy reserved in humanity for the weak and handicapped children, although from the utilitarian standpoint, they would be generally much less productive than their healthy peers. Science and pragmatism are necessary conditions of healthy society and individual life, but they are hardly sufficient conditions. Life’s meaning goes much beyond. So if Bertrand Russell and other scientist of his inclination explain that rivers flow to the sea because of gravity alone, following a path of least resistance, he is not wrong. But the poet who sees even gravity as a mystery, without like the scientist presuming it to be a fundamental, axiomatic and irreducible quality, is not wrong either. Hence if he uses metaphoric language to see the sea possessing a mysterious magnetism which attracts the rivers to flow into it, the metaphor has only enriched the experience of life in its totality. It is only limited and straitjacketed vision that would make anybody not see the infinite expanse of possibilities opened up from this vantage. Our point is, in naming the new Keithels, let the myths, legends, archetypal memories of the place be given their dues. This is what would give the new market places the roots that they need, and the uniqueness of identity that would make them stand apart from all else.