He conquered, he came, but did he see? Being a makhloot form of ‘paraphrase and reverse,’ perverse would best describe the reinvention of a phrase originally attributed to the bane of all Gauls, past and present, and applies to conquerors of a much later age too, who would rather let blood than test the ballot, but have to observe certain niceties to curry favour at the world’s high table.
“Blood before the ballot,” therefore, serves as aptly as that memorable battlefield exchange between the faction and the triumvirate – words before blows. Is that not so, Gentlemen? Honourable Men had come much earlier, and from a figure who played the Roman fool just like his adversaries, but after many triumphs, sanguinary as well as amorous. And only for damaged goods.
But they are already eating out of the New Conqueror’s hands. Markets have that kind of effect on politics, and ideals. In the more local context, commerce had vividly demonstrated its stabilizing effect on common sense gone awry. But this is that rare occasion when local thinking is not deemed to be needing fine-tuning with global perceptions. Those who celebrated perceptions mostly in their variability have long fallen silent, and the day belongs to those who can manufacture silence out of din. Would that they conjured harmony out of discord.
Words before blows, and the visit of a personage who does not need to be makhloot like that that celebrated mukhauta – the one who could take the sting out of his words by precision-timed references to insaniyat. A simple permutation of the spelling, and out pops “insanity.” A look-alike, and as abundant as its counterfeit is rare. At least, that is what the networks don’t say, even if they ‘footage’ it round the clock.
The visit, or rather the visitation, has therefore to be evaluated, as all other have been so far, by its words and blows. To the best of everyone’s knowledge, there were none. No words, and very little, if any, of blows. Some would ascribe this to the acoustic characteristics of cemeteries, and others to what is ordinarily called graffiti but has been granted the elevated status of “writing on the wall,” or if one is partial to intellectualisms, scripted murals. The last, though, has ample time to work itself into native political vocabulary, and carries no risk of being erased by the sands of time. Are the Kashmir Pitman’s signs not fresh even today?