Remembering Marquez

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“…because what I was writing demonstrated that the fundamental problem was political and not moral, as people believed”
– Marquez

By Soibam Haripriya

The oeuvre of Marquez should not be left unread, uncommented. One of the most fascinating piece of work however could be said to be his autobiography -Living to tell the tale. The events from his life that inspired him to spin tales around to create novellas and novels are all there. There would be no other work that would inspire one to take up the vocation of writing than his autobiography where the proof that he would take up this ‘overwhelming vocation’ was described as ‘the only force capable of competing with the power of love’. More and more people today seem to live in places which are not their place of birth. The nostalgia evoked by his writing could ring true for many more of us. The feeling of a world changed and the eternal nostalgia of the past is what the living recounts. Places where the world ends and oceans without shore on the other side are part of his childhood that urged the imagination. What then is magic realism is rather realism in itself. This could be the cue to go back to the novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold. What is striking is not that the protagonist Santiago Nasar was killed but the knowledge of the inevitability of his death. This theme urges one to think about this one premonitory word – inevitable. To stretch this work further one can certainly put this statement that it seemed inevitable that Narendra Modi was to win the election; a person who is for many, the symbol of communal hatred and carnage and for many others the face of development and good governance. What is the fundamental problem of this face of development and governance is that both these terms are peddled to us as ideological neutral concepts. What is the fundamental problem of this also is the fact that Gujarat does not top the country in ANY development indicators. Gujarat, in the Human Development Index (HDI) computation of Jean Dreze and Ritika Khera ranks 9th among 20 major states, yet people claim to have voted for him as he would bring about development. The fact of Gujarat being in the 9th rank is also not a position in which he and the BJP had contributed. On the other hand the name Modi is less associated with BJP and more with the RSS whose ideology need not be recounted for anyone here. Ironically Kerala the state which stands first in Human Development Index among the states in India is touted as being based on the Gujarat model. This is the story of a good lobby – media, corporate houses and therefore the inevitability of his victory in spite of (or perhaps one cannot be sure maybe because of) him having incited hatred against minorities and therefore he is projected as the face of an unapologetic Hindutva. This might come as a leap of imagination, looking at post May 16 India and Marquez but clearly the theme is magic realism and realism. The well known activist Mukul Sinha who fought many cases for the victims of Gujarat riots in Modi’s Gujarat and whom many of us in Manipur also knew him as the counsel for the fake encounters in Congress led Manipur passed away a few days before the May 16. He passed away on the 12th of May, 2014. It seems as if he couldn’t bear to see the premonitory claims of the media but then again, magic realism is as much about realism as it is about magic.

While the name Marquez could be almost used interchangeably with magic realism it should be remembered that the magic realism that marked his work are actually pages from his life and that of his parents and grandparents and pages from the collective history of a country marked by conflicts and dictators; a place not very different in its political manifestation than that of ours. The fact is that his work is as much mundane as it is magic and as therefore as much grief in its reality.

 

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