Saturday, November 04, 2006

Invisible Man

The first chapter of Invisible Man
A beautiful piece that evoked a lot of emotions in me! I think it was beautifully written highlighting human tendencies. I was particularly fascinated by what the grandfather said on his death bed. The narrator doesn’t talk any further about his grandfather and his life but I think what the grandfather meant by this was when your oppressor is very powerful, then it’s wise to go along with him and win his confidence, get into their good books and do your job of educating the masses clandestinely and no one would ever doubt you for that. He was a spy but no one noticed that as he seemed to be so meek. Resisting violently or openly against people who have much more power is not always a wise decision. This reminds me of the presentation that I attended yesterday on Israeli-Palestinian issue. The speaker said one thing that probably I’ll never forget. She said that for the common Palestinians living in the occupied land, “Existence is Resistance.” When you are living under powerful people, who consider you to be an unwanted element, then asserting your right to exist by doing nothing but continuing staying there is a powerful way to resist their oppression.
This piece filled me with disgust. I am not sure against whom- The white southerners who treated African Americans as animals or the black narrator who went through this entire thing still feeling like a winner. This entire “battle royal” thing did not change his attitude towards the “white southerners”, well not in the first chapter at least, I don’t know about the rest of the book. This was why I was literally filled with anger against him and though he was so badly hurt, he gathered no sympathy from me. As I think further, I realize that people who have been oppressed all through their lives develop immunity to oppression and they stop reacting to it altogether. The narrator is a part of the society that has been historically oppressed in this country. Therefore he accepted that what we in today’s world cannot accept. This is the extent to which I am ready to understand things from his perspective. How can he not have any resentment against people who treated him so badly? He was so openly humiliated and what was the reward? A scholarship in an all black college! I don’t know if this is a real story. I hope it is not. Because I would have a hard time accepting the fact that people of his kind exist in the world. People might not openly go against people who humiliate them and treat them like animals, but they would surely develop strong resentment against them. The complete lack of any such feelings just made me hate his character. In fact the narrator was grateful to those guys for giving him the scholarship!
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the movie “Crash” that had a strong effect on my mind ever since I watched it and changed my thinking quite a bit. I was of course not ready to believe what was said in the movie. It was a movie after all but after talking to a lot of people about it I discovered that it was in fact true. I knew that racism exists but did not realize that things were that bad. But I fail to realize what would make people to react that way. What about the color or race of the person would make them hate him so much. It’s something that I have been trying to understand but have never been able to do so. I wonder what goes on inside their minds. Why would they hate someone who hasn’t done anything bad to them? I can understand why would Kurds hate the Sunnis in Iraq but the hatred we are talking about here is nothing of that sort. I wish I were able to solve this puzzle.
The narrator definitely had no dignity. I hated him more when he thought himself to be superior to people against whom he fought in the ring and why did he think so? Because he got a pat on the back by his oppressors? Because he got a scholarship to go to an all black college? The people who fought in the ring did that to get money. They did that out of necessity and though it’s not mentioned in the piece, I m pretty much sure they had their grudges against those people. But the narrator had no feelings of this sort whatsoever! I would say he was way inferior to those people. He had no self-respect and no respect and no thinking ability.
I think the piece succeeded in doing what in aimed at doing i.e., evoking strong emotions in the readers and forcing them to think.


  1. go ahead with ur thoughts.. as long as u portray present problems with chanakya mindset im happy iwth ur attempts.. btw, keep ur interaction through mails henceforth it makes life easier :D

  2. hehehe...well not everything tht i write can have chanakya mindset...i m neways not a shrude realist like him :D

  3. Thanks for the kind words Isha. A good starting point could be the book "My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir" by Jagmohan. If you don't like to read thick books, you could try visiting some websites like

    By the way, how did you bump into my blog? I haven't written anything in months now.

  4. Hi Isha.

    Some random thoughts (you might want to research these further):

    The history of Kashmir is full of blood since centuries, as if it were a cursed land. Kashmiri Pandits, Brahmins of Kashmiri origin, have had to leave the vale because of Islamic rule more than a few times over the course of centuries. The spread of Islam was brutal (someone once wrote that Dal Lake had turned red by the blood of Pandits) - there's plenty of historical evidence [Rajtarangini by Kalhana, Frozen Turbulence is a good begining as I mentioned earlier]. Here's another one: [Converted Kashmir by Narendra Sehgal]

    Sharada - a script that used to be prevalant a few centuries back - is almost dead. UNESCO figures say there are almost 500 odd people, in toto, who know the script.

    By the way, etymological root of the word Kashmir is Kashyap-mur. Kashyap for Rishi Kashyapa and mur means abode in Kashmiri.

    I don't see any need of getting aggravated. Pakistan is a tool in the hands of USA and China, and everyone knows that. To contain spread of communism (during cold war) via. India-USSR relationship, USA had to "befriend" Pakistan (there are no friendly superpowers, as they say). If you do some rigorous Google search, you'll find unclassified Top Secret documents from the State Department pointing towards the same. [The arms and ammunition that terrorists use are either US or Chinese made]

    You should also keep in mind that Kashmir issue isn't just because Pakistan is abetting terrorism in Kashmir. The biggest fools were our very own Gandhis and Nehrus who let Abdullahs treat them like dirt.

    You might also want to read Dr. Arvind Lavakre's classic articles on Kashmir, Article 370 etc.

  5. i'd like to know more about why Kashmir/militant Islam interests you etc., do drop me an email on vikaskaul at; i've stopped writing on my blog.