Scribbled on the back of a landing, positioned so that you see them walking down the stairs while leaving Suñatã Samantã: Emptiness Equality, are two scraps of text in Hindi and Urdu. Some may try to read Hindi, but it is gibberish, empty of meaning (suñatã). Those who read Urdu, however, realise the Devanagari is backward, meant to be read right to left, like Nastaliq. It’s only by placing the Urdu reflection on an equal footing (samantã) that the words are revealed: the first two lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge, currently one of the touchstone anthems for anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters. We will see, argue the words if we know how to look beyond what’s easy and obvious.
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February 24, 2020