Whenever a great returns to soil or is on the verge of retirement, the big question arises - WHO NEXT? Be it after Gandhi's and Nehru's death or during this twilight time of Sachin Tendulkar's career. It is always difficult to fill the shoes of the greats. India's Picasso, M F Hussain too 'retired' from India recently. But the question "Who will fill MFH's shoes?" did not arise. Why? Well... he walks bare foot! His claims are that he wants to feel 'Mother Earth' which is why he stays away from footwear.
This reminded me that 'Mother Earth' is represented in various forms. Some see Goddesses as Mother Earth, some see Mother India as Mother Earth. Motherland is often referred to as 'Janani' (One who gives birth). When Laxmana eulogized Lanka, Ram said "Api Swarnamayi Lanka Na May Laxmana Roachathi, Janani Janma Bhoomischa Swaragadapi Gariyasi" (Lanka might look like heaven, Laxman, but Mother and Motherland are more sacred than Heaven") This is true not only to the followers of one group or inmates of one country but to each and every soul on this very 'Mother Earth'.
It is not that Hussain cannot exercise his rightful 'Freedom of Expression'. But it is the haughtiness of using his vague 'Freedom of Eccentricism' to hurt the feelings of a group of Indians that irks me the most. On questioning, he reportedly replied that he draws nude paintings of those whom he hates. One (or rather, I) could still forgive him for the blasphemous image of the Hindu Goddesses but not 'Mother India' for sure. He being a follower of a different faith, I don't expect him to have any love or respect towards the beliefs of other religion, but certainly, I expect him to show respect towards India, one of the few countries in this world which can boast of endless religion and faith and still lives in harmony, treating all as equal (barring a few bizarre incidents). Moreover, it is also the duty of every Indian to uphold and maintain the secular fabric of this country rather than give scope to tear it apart. This is where Hussain has erred, and this is where I see him not being apologetic about!
What put me to AWE (rather than WOW) was a few people putting forth the Khajuraho carvings as a justification of Hussain's blasphemy. Nowhere in Khajuraho would one find Hindu Gods being depicted nude. Moreover, it just depicts common human beings in the act of sex which is common human tendency to indulge in (responsibly and legally I mean). Khajuraho paintings haven't hurt the religious sentiments of any group so far, atleast none have claimed so. So it is a spineless point to justify Hussain's paintings using Khajuraho carvings. No human being mates in open like depicted in Khajuraho, do they? The reason for all such turmoil prevailing in our country is too much emphasis on RIGHTS. For every mean act of ours, we refer the Constitution and take refuge under copious sections and laws. It's a tad too late but we rightfully need to have some sessions on DUTIES. Duty to preserve peace of the society, Duty to uphold the unity of the country, Duty not to hurt the beliefs and religious sentiments of fellow citizens etc.
Hussain is now India's past. With him accepting Qatari citizenship and India not permitting an individual to hold two citizenship simultaneously, he has naturally lost his Indian Citizenship. He claims to have not lost his Indianness though. Whether he is still the same M F Hussain to Indians matter more than what he speaks for himself. We Indians have a rich tradition of respecting the aged and the old. He is 95 and we wish him a peaceful life ahead. One only hopes he doesn't 'express' much in Qatar, for we all know how 'liberal' are the Gulf countries.
Oh My Dear Holy Mother Forgive Hussain!