Thinking Konkani 360 Degrees

The future of Romi script cannot be outside Konkani. Every script of Konkani has a future in the Konkani world. Although there has been a consistent effort to declare the death of Konkani in the Romi script in our days by several Konkani lovers of the nagri position, Romi Konkani has refused to die much like it did when the Portuguese colonizers tried to suppress it. It is the speakers, writers, readers and lovers of Romi Konkani that have kept it alive down the lane of time that runs through a period of many centuries. Therefore, the glorious past of the Romi Konkani and the powerful resilience of its people have to be considered along with the several challenges it has to face in our days to envision a future of Romi Konkani today. While setting our feet on this noble task, maybe we can begin with the celebration of its refusal to die at the hands of the colonized as well as those of our very own who seem to mimic the colonizers in form while subscribing to nagri alone for Konkani in matter and form. One can trace a powerful integrating past in the movement of Romi Konkani down its rich history and can assist us to respond to the de-konkanizing of the plural Konkanis (derecognizing the others of nagri Konkani inflicted by the nagri movement in recent days) that we have to face in the living present and the coming future.

Although the nagraization of Konkani is more recent and cannot be compared to long life span of Roman Konkani, its champions has the power of the state apparatus in our days which they have tried to employ to suppress Romi Konkani in several ways. This attempts to crucify Romi Konkani are painful and have hurt all lovers of Konkani in the Romi script but it failed to dampen their spirit and we can see how the lovers of Romi script have emerged with an intense resolve and determination to keep the flag of Romi Konkani flying high. The recent claims of some people in Goa that nagri script had a modi ancestry in Goa is again confusing. In fact, this tall speech at least proves two important things: firstly, it has been established that with coming of nagri script under the British colonizers, the modi script in Maharashtra was destroyed. Secondly, nagri is different in matter and form but is related in part of modi script, hence may be difficult to sustain that Modi is ancient form of nagri. It can at the most open us to the plural forms (another kind) of nagri scripts which may not be acceptable to its die hard supporters. Romi followers may not have difficulty to accept Modi script which was invented in the 17th century as a script of Konkani if there are documents in Konkani in Goa in that medium. If these documents only exist in Marathi how it can be the ancient script of Konkani? Besides, late Dr. Olivino Gomes has already taught that there is a kandvi script that is used to write the records of gavkarias in Goa. All these scripts may qualify to be the scripts of Konkani although they are no longer in use. This openness to Modi and kandvi scripts is in keeping with inclusive spirit of romi followers.

The embrace of Konkani in its totality across geographical, political, anthropological and religious boundaries has both ennobled and enriched the Konkani movement and has to a large extent become a great weapon of resistance against the homogenization and monoculturing of our mother Konkani that we are still challenged to address today. This is why the future of Romi Konkani cannot be envisioned outside this ennobling and integrating Konkani movement that keeps the Konkanis in their plurality into its embrace. This embrace is 360 degree wide and there is no Konkani outside this embrace. Therefore, the challenge is to take these strengths of the Romi Konkani movement into its future. This will require us to continue to hold into our arms what may be thought as thinking Konkani 360 degree. Thinking Konkani 360 degrees holds into its arms Konkani in its totality and plurality while working for the progress of Konkani in the Romi script. It is only through this embrace with other Konkanis that any Konkani can progress. Indeed, it is in this 360 degree embrace of the romi Konkani that nagri Konkani in Goa has its future too.

To continue to hold the banner of romi Konkani into a golden future, its ardent followers will have to carry on their creative response that resists the de-konkanizing of Konkani in its plural forms which they have wonderfully done in the past in union with Konkani lovers of all persuasions. In order to stay steadfast on this dynamic journey, we have to wakefully respond to the something that might be called the parallax view of the hardened nagri followers and face the consequent ‘object petit a’ that is arising constantly in the struggle to progress along side of other Konkanis that romi Konkani has to undergo without committing philosophical suicide. It is a challenge to stand for Romi Konkani without giving up on its others (other forms of Konkani). When, we speak of other konkanis. It is spoken mainly in an psychoanalytical sense as the other of romi/ nagri/ etc., within the Konkani spectrum.

The notion of the parallax view and ‘object petit a’ are found in the work of contemporary thinker Slavoj Zizek who profoundly uses psychoanalysis to study reality . The parallax view is the apparent displacement of an object caused by change in the observational position that provides a new line of sight. To this Zizek adds that it is not that the observed difference is simply a subjective difference which means that the same object exists out there but the change viewed from a new position is also a view of a change in the object. Now coming to Konkani, we can see that the hardened view of the nagri alone Konkani followers may also be seen as a parallax view. It is not just a subjective view of their own, but it also changes the ontological status of Konkani (nagri Konkani) and its relation to other konkanis and their legitimate scripts. Its toxicity becomes a death blow to the others of nagri Konkani. Hence, the way the romi Konkani has kept its others (the others of roman Konkani) in its embrace is an antidote to the vicious politics of self proclaimed nagri Konkani movement.

Zizek speaks of an ‘object petit a ’ as a pure parallax object. It is more intimate. It is not only that its contours change with the shift of the subject; it only exists…its presence can only be discerned… when the landscape is viewed from a certain location. This means the object becomes symbolic and is often fetishized and is deeply enslaving. Perhaps, what Zizek names as ‘object petit a’ may be the one that afflicts the nagri supporters who seem to be unable to widen their embrace to include the others (others of nagri Konkani) of their fetishized entanglement to nagri Konkani. This perspective can be emancipative to the entire world of Konkani and may assist the Romi Konkani movement to remain compassionate to cruelties that they suffer at the hands of nagri followers who exhibit casteist inclinations and have taken almost total control over government apparatus and monopolised Government’s assistance for the progress of Konkani avoi. Thankfully, the Government has not fully surrendered to nagrization of Konkani and has offered some assistance to Dalgado Konkanni academi. Yet a lot needs to be done to overcome the romi phobia that afflicts several nagri enthusiasts.

The 360 degree thinking of Konkani that we wish to undertake in the contest of envisioning a future of romi Konkani exhorts us to critically respond to the pathologies that afflict Konkani mai across the spectrum of its five scripts. Most of all we will have to look at how, the gaze of the Big other, the ego-ideal afflicts us all. The big brother or the ego-ideal is already a pre-given vision which is often glorified and is not free of being contaminated by the standards of the upper caste that owns the phallus in our society. Such a brahminical phallus castrates everything including konkani in its plural forms. If Romi Konkani falls prey to these sanskritic standards, it will get trapped into a chain of mimicry that simply imitates its big other or the big brother in form (and not matter) and therefore will continue to be considered tainted and of low standard as we see today. This is why it is important to stay open to a dynamic and living journey that traces its directive principles not in the imitation of the big brother who serves as ego-ideal but strives to achieve the independence of an ideal ego by becoming an anti-Oedipus who refuses to submit to the brahmanical phallus of our

Any attempt to think Konkani 360 degrees cannot ignore the question of death drive afflicting our konkani movement. Death drive was introduced by Sigmund Freud to help us understand the complexity of desire in us. Desire in us seeks satisfaction through fulfillment of our libido. All our motivation is energized and led to contentment by the pleasure principle. For Freud this drive of our libido was biological while French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan adds a social dimension to it. This means that the pain that we inflict on the other also gives us a sense of enjoyment. There is a sadistic instinct in us. When someone fails, or something is denied to a rival, we enjoy the failure or plight of that person or community. This is the socio-psychological dimension that Lacan tries to embrace when he studies the dynamism and complexity of human desire.

Freud takes this enjoyment to a new level when he points at the existence of what he calls death drive. Death drive operates when we enjoy our own self destruction. The Socratic tradition that became the mainstay of the West looked for all answers in the reason and the intellect. It taught that the faculty of the will is blind and accepts what is proposed as good by the intellect. At least the reason had to mask that which is evil as good for the will to tilt towards it. This position was challenged by the voluntarist tradition of the Fransciscans who taught that will was an independent faculty. In some way, l Freud’s teaching on the death drive derailed this intellectual emphasis of the Socratic tradition. He taught that we can enjoy our self destruction when we chase the death drive or instinct. Maybe an example will make this clear. We all know that those who smoke and indulge in substance abuse or become addicted to alcohol know that it has an ill effect on them and their families. Yet they and we enjoy chasing this death drive in several ways.

Is Konkani movement afflicted by a death drive that seems to be enjoyed by all across the lines of division? Maybe this question requires an honest admission. This suggestion that in some very real way the conflict of nagri and romi is riding a death drive might unsettle several among us. But for the sake of our mother tongue, we will have to walk this painful path. Besides, we may not be able to think Konkani 360 degrees, if we do not scrutinize the death drive that afflicts the Konkani world in Goa. Maybe instead of choosing a win-win option, we enjoy our win when our other loses. It is grounded in the self and the other dynamics. The self thinks that it wins when its other loses. We all are trapped in this win and loss framework. Moving in this direction, we put ourselves in danger of putting the last nail on the coffin of Konkani by a delusion of winning by enjoying the loss of the other Konkani.

Like the other of the self, we have the construction of the other of Konkani. The other Konkani is primarily viewed as the rival. Now the other of the romi Konkani is nagri Konkani and vice versa. Both these others of Konkani can be cloned or mimicked differently. We have continuously produced the others of Konkani across the lines of division that we find in the Konkani world. Thus, for a long time, particularly during the language agitation, Marathi became the mother of romi and nagri Konkani. Now that understanding is growing among the bahujans about the caste contamination in our society, Marathi may no longer function as the mother of romi Konkani for the Catholics in this delusion of winning by seeing that the other loses. Unfortunately, English has now come up as the new other of nagri.

This complex substitution of the others of Konkani reveals something profound about us. The Battle for Konkani appears to be ultimately fought within two camps. The lines of division are clear. But the battle is also all the time caste driven. It may be fought on romi v/s nagri grounds, romi, nagri v/s Marathi grounds or English v/s Konkani grounds. It is also the caste that casts this war. Konkani seems to be caught in this caste driven war all the time. Maybe we’re enjoying the living death of Konkani in this battle for caste supremacy. Unfortunately, caste continues to castrate us in many ways. It rates us into allocated spaces of the caste assigned hierarchical order and it dis-empowers us from being ourselves. We are castrated because we cannot become ourselves but have to imitate the higher castes. We perhaps enjoy the castration of Konkani. Nagrization of Konkani is castration of Konkani. Konkani cannot flourish in other forms. A part of it has to die so that nagri Konkani can live. We need therapy otherwise this wounding will continue and it wounds not just us but Konkani too. Our mother tongue Konkani will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Therefore, thinking Konkani 360 degrees becomes a clarion call for all sons and daughters of mother Konkani to seek therapy and emancipate Konkani mai by casting out the demon of casteism. Is this possible? Are we ready? Shall we continue enjoying wounding each other and brutalize Konkani?

We have been discussing the political nature of the present. One chief conflict that haunted Goans for a long time is the battle for Konkani. This battle is not something of a distant past but is hovering over our living past. Displacing Konkani in Nagri script through the choice of english by a significant number of people in Goa is re-placing Nagri-konkani for English. The issue is political and profoundly complex. It has humiliation staining it and has become a badge of shame on all sides of the divide. The divide in this case does not have just two sides. A significant number of Goans re-place Konkani in Nagri with Marathi and they along with others do replace it with english. Unfortunately, the basic terms like Konkani, Marathi , english and English do not mean the same thing to all involved in the divide . This can be clearly noticed if one takes pain to trace these terms in actual use and not valorised as separate objective terms having their fixed essential meaning. The parents in Goa are not choosing English that the proponents of the Konkani in Nagri as medium of instruction think that they do. They choose english, the language that promises them a future and economic security for their children. This means there is not just one English there are several English as well as there are also several konkanis. They reside in different discourses that shape the political life in Goa. They flow from certain assumptions about language, truth, power and privilege. Language is central to this politics because it provides the terms in which the truth itself is constituted. Hence, control of language becomes the door to power and privilege. This is why the discursive formations of all sides in the polylogue over Konkani cross every other and are even determined by one another.

The question of Konkani does not offer easy answers. How we answer it deeply defines the self and the other relations in our society. Being subjected to subjects, it shapes the identity of all involved in the conflict over Konkani. We in Goa are interpreted or called into being by how we relate to Konkani. The relation of our identity with Konkani is inescapable. Konkani interpalles us or makes us subjects. But it is difficult to decide who is a good and bad subject because everyone is locked within a mode of thought that one seeks to deny its other. All love Konkani but each one does it differently. The choice of english among the parents is a choice of Konkani in Romi or Marathi . Maybe the Marxist notion like overdetermination might assist us to understand how complexities of pain and humiliation operate as multiple causes to convert the choice of english as a substitute to Konkani that one truly loves. Sigmund Freud’s notion of substitute might also bring insight into the Konkani that is replaced by a choice of english. It seems that the sublime object of us Goans is our mother tongue, Konkani. It also appears that we will have to fight several battles on its turf for the time to come. Konkani in a very significant way will decide the destiny of us Goans.

Unfortunately, the battle for Konkani exhibits a Manichean aesthetics. This aesthetics expresses the centre /margin, self/other, good/ evil binary. Our society is profoundly marked by this Manichean duality. Maybe it is emerging from the purity/pollution worldview of a caste laden society. We seem to be reacting and not responding to each other. We have to move beyond the good and evil type of Manichaeism in the context of Konkani. All Konkanis are good. We cannot allow other konkanis to die so that only one may live. We need to choose our response that is salutary to a society that is divided by the love for their mother tongue. No Konkani is to be de-konkanized by upholding one single form of it. All konkanis can grow together. Those who singularize plural Konkani will end up killing Konkani on the altar of standardization. We have to come to terms with our love for Konkani as well as recognize the love of others too. There are many ways of loving Konkani. No one enjoys the monopoly in this regard. Sooner that we Goans ,our Government and our Konkani institutions realize this truth better it is for our society. Konkani in its plural form is our true strength and not our weakness. It is fullness and not a limitation. Only when we understand this fact will we bring true harmony in our society.

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