A Kind Reminder to President Weah

first_imgThe attention of the Daily Observer is drawn to reports carried on local and social media of officials of the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) openly carrying arms. According to a Facebook posting by an official of the student organization, the young man, pictured sporting a side arm (pistol) tucked in his belt, is who he called chairman of the defense, security and intelligence committee of LINSU.This newspaper is left asking just when the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) become a military style organization with its officials brazenly carrying arms in reckless disregard for the law. Moreover comments made by Police spokesperson, H. Moses Carter, in response to queries put to him on the issue suggests that either the Police tacitly approves or that it is not up to speed with developments.The posting by a LINSU official on social media justifying the so-called right of a self-styled defense, security and intelligence LINSU official clearly suggests that these individuals are making no pretenses about the fact that they are bearing arms howbeit illegally. Under Part V of the Act creating the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, subtitled: Possession and Use, Section 1:19: Prohibition of Possession of Light Weapons states that (a) “No natural person shall have in his/her possession or under his/her control any light weapon”.It says further, subsection (a) shall not apply to a person employed by the AFL or National Security Agencies acting in the course of his/her employment. Section 1:20 “Prohibition of Possession of Small Arms” (a) “No natural person shall have in his/her possession or under his/her control any small arm other than a shoulder fired single-barreled gun for which a possession license has been issued by the LNP and the Commission in keeping with the Act”. (e) “Private Security agencies or non-state actors not defined under this Act as National Security Agencies shall be prohibited from arming their employees”.In view of what appears as clear violations of these provisions of the 2015 National Firearms and Ammunition Control Act, the LNP, which has a key oversight and control responsibility under the Act, has to act to restrain wayward elements who, by their brazen display of firearms, are sending a clear message to others to arm themselves as well. It can be recalled that Representative Yekeh Kolubah had reported that shots were fired at his home following the violent disruption by armed elements of a children’s party he was hosting.It can also be recalled that shots were reportedly fired when CDC supporters led by Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee violently attacked a political rally being held in New Georgia by Cornelia Krua Togba in last November. And then on March 21, armed thugs led by LINSU President Mohammed Kamara violently disrupted a MOJA anniversary program. And more recently was the disruption of an official requiem service for fallen legislator Adolph Lawrence by CDC supporters.This newspaper notes with deep and troubling concern that the Police whose motto is “To Protect and Serve” is neither protecting the people nor is it serving their interests. Again the Daily Observer must warn that such policing practices now being seen under this current leadership are having a corrosive effect on respect for the rule of law and further undermining public trust and confidence in that institution.According to Human Rights Watch, “the ability of the Police to enforce the law and investigate wrongdoing is severely compromised by lawlessness and abuse that Police officers inflict on ordinary Liberians especially those living on the margins”. While this newspaper remains seized of the fact that the problems faced by the Police are longstanding and due to official virtual neglect of the institution, yet it cannot remain oblivious to what it appears to be a gross lack of leadership at the highest levels.Such lack of leadership lends easily to Police abuse and tends to reinforce the commonly held impression that justice is not for the poor or the powerless according to Human Rights Watch. Thus, for example, when student auxiliaries of the CDC carry arms openly in breach of the law, the Mayor of the city of Monrovia leads a band of vagrants and thugs to attack a political rally, when a children’s party is violently disrupted or an anniversary program is violently interrupted by hired thugs and the Police does nothing, the negative public impression that the Police is biased or partisan becomes etched even deeper into the consciousness of the people.As June 7 approaches, there are concerns that the overt and brazen display of firearms by CDC supporters is sending a message of intimidation to participants of the June 7 demonstration, warning that they will not hesitate to use those illegally acquired firearms to maim and kill. And that will spell disaster replete with unknown consequences for all and sundry including this government.Of course, the Baghdad Bobs will be sure to scream that such genuine concerns about the direction in which the country is headed are nothing but the “animus of angry elites convinced of their rights atop the political and socioeconomic ladders or better still their denial of democracy”.But, lest they forget, and they should be reminded at every turn, that when it mattered most, they jumped ship; Saddam Hussein was left to face his fate alone; so it was with Ghaddafi, Tolbert, Doe and even now, Taylor, spending the rest of his days on earth in solitary confinement.These are all the more reasons why President Weah, in the view of this newspaper, must take charge and lead else he will allow others to take charge and lead him to an untimely and a most unkind fate! This is a kind REMINDER!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Burbank Bus ridership leaps

first_imgBURBANK – Tricia Smith used to slide behind the wheel of her Ford Explorer, tune her radio to her favorite station and settle in for a comfy commute between her Santa Clarita home and her job in Burbank. Until the commute home from hell on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. “It was horrendous – two hours not going anywhere,” said Smith, 37, a housing assistant for Burbank’s Housing Authority. Now the mother of two slides into the seat of a Metrolink train for a 39-minute ride, during which she can talk to friends and read her favorite magazines. Once at the Burbank train station, she hops on a city shuttle bus that zips her to the front door of her office on Glenoaks Boulevard. Nearly 54 percent of the 170 riders who responded to a Burbank Bus survey last month said they had been riding the system for just under a year – more evidence of recent public transit converts. “It’s telling me that people are looking for a more affordable alternative,” said Adrian Aguilar, a marketing coordinator for Burbank Bus. “In Southern California, we’re a car culture, and nobody’s willing to give up that freedom to give up that car. Now, with rising gas prices, it’s been enough. People are willing to make that trade-off.” Andrew Carrasco, Burbank’s transportation services supervisor, said commuters are also lured by Burbank Bus’s $1 rides. The bus is free for those with Metrolink monthly passes, which go for $139.25, and MTA’s monthly EZ Transit Passes, which cost $58, or $29 for senior citizens. “People are getting out of their cars and using public transportation,” Carrasco said. Meanwhile, the Beeline bus system in Glendale saw a 3.5 percent drop in riders – from 753,721 in the first four months of 2005 to 727,547 during the same period this year, statistics show. Jano Baghdanian, Glendale’s traffic and transportation administrator, attributes the drop to yearlong Brand Boulevard construction that altered some bus routes. He also said many of the city’s riders are regular customers who use the Beeline as their sole source of transportation because they don’t own cars. “A large number of our riders are local folks,” Baghdanian said. “So the external factors like inflation and gas prices do not necessarily change their habits.” The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recorded 126.9 million riders on its buses in the first four months of this year, compared with 117.9 million in the first four months of 2005, a nearly 8 percent jump, statistics show. In the same period, light-rail ridership jumped nearly 14 percent, from 24.5 million in the first four months of 2005 to 27.9 million this year. Metrolink is also seeing record numbers. The train service, which covers some 512 miles in Southern California, saw more than 1 million passengers in May as local gas prices hovered around $3.40 a gallon. “I remember being told that the people of Southern California would never switch from their cars,” said Metrolink Chief Executive Officer David Solow. “I dare say our passengers have proven them wrong.” jason.kandel@dailynews.com (818) 546-3306160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2The money she saves in gas – about $160 a month – goes toward her wardrobe. “It allows me to shop more,” Smith said. “I’m much happier. I will never drive my car to work again.” Smith has joined a growing number of commuters ditching their cars for public transit, fueling a jump in bus and train ridership across the Los Angeles region – especially at Burbank Bus, which provides service from local train and regional bus stations to offices and homes in the city. Burbank Bus carried 102,058 riders in the first four months of this year, compared with 72,617 in the same period last year, a 41 percent jump, according to the latest available statistics. Thirteen, 28-seat shuttle buses run along three routes to major points across the city – the Metro Red Line subway station in North Hollywood, the Empire Center and Metrolink stations in downtown Burbank and at the Bob Hope Airport. last_img read more


first_imgDONEGAL’S interest in the beach volleyball at the Olympics ended last night!British duo Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney unexpectedly crashed out of tournament.Shauna, whose dad Enda is from Donegal Town, went down her partner 2-0 in their lucky loser play-off against Austria at Horse Guards Parade as Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger closed out a comprehensive win. The first set lasted 20 minutes as Mullin and Dampney battled hard to reward the home fans with a spirited display but they were unable to mount a credible challenge in the second as they were manoeuvred around the court by their opponents.The duo had earlier gone through as lucky losers despite slipping to defeat against Russia in their final Pool F clash.Mullin and Dampney won their opening match against Canada but were heavily beaten by Italy in their second preliminary phase clash, meaning they needed victory against Russia to be sure of securing a place in the knockout stage.Their opponents also needed a result to ensure their progress and proved too strong, winning 25-23 21-13 at Horse Guards Parade. Russian duo Evgeniya Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova edged a tight first set, with the latter growing in confidence as the match went on.Mullin stole points with some smart cross-shots and spikes, but the Russians finally took the set when Mullin fired into her own net.The British pair took umbrage with some strict refereeing decisions, with Russia finding a different gear in the second set.Ukolova took control at the net on her way to 25 points, with the eastern European pair easing to a 21-13 victory to secure their place in the round of 16.“We just want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us,” said Mullin as she addressed the crowd after Austrian defeat. “We’re very proud of you guys for being behind us all the time. Thank you, we love you. It’s been an incredible week for us. We brought our game home to Britain and it’s been just amazing for us, thanks to everyone.”Taking over the microphone, Dampney said: “Every time we stepped on court it’s given me goose pimples. We’ve loved every second and that’s down to you guys and our family and friends. It’s been amazing.”Shauna is due to visit her relatives again in Donegal in October.Town mayor Tom Conachan said: “We will roll the town band out for her. She has given the town a great interest in the Olympics in a very exciting sport.” DONEGAL DISAPPOINTMENT AS SHAUNA LOSES IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL was last modified: August 3rd, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:DONEGAL DISAPPOINTMENT AS SHAUNA LOSES IN BEACH VOLLEYBALLlast_img read more

‘Manchester United players are not fit to wear the shirt’, blasts Ian Holloway

first_imgMourinho was rumoured to be close to the sack ahead of the game, and while the Portuguese has insisted he is backed by club bosses, he is surely not sitting comfortably.But former Queens Park Rangers manager Holloway insists Mourinho cannot be blamed for United’s dreadful form on the pitch, insisting the players need to take more responsibility.“I think those players should look at themselves,” he said during his co-commentary role on talkSPORT 2.“Too many of them aren’t performing, too many of them don’t deserve to wear the Manchester United badge on their chest.“You cannot say that the first 70 minutes [against Newcastle] was down to the manager.“I can understand what he’s been talking about over the last few weeks, he’s making it totally clear that some of the attitudes in that dressing room shouldn’t really be there. 4 Mourinho is still under-pressure in the Old Trafford hotseat Ian Holloway has blasted Manchester United’s players for ‘not giving their all’, saying some are not fit to wear the shirt following their performance against Newcastle on Saturday.United staged a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Old Trafford, thanks to goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and stoppage-time winner by Alexis Sanchez.But the manner of their first-half performance, which has been branded one of the worst halves of football Old Trafford has seen for some years, means the result has not masked the problems at the club or alleviated that much pressure on manager Jose Mourinho. Sanchez’s late goal handed United their first win in five games – but there is still not something right at the club “At the start of every day as a football manager you want your team to come in ready to work, and bare minimum is you give everything, and they don’t.“They’re going out there and they’re not giving their all.”Mourinho was fuming on the touchline during a shocking first 45 minutes from United.Newcastle, who are still winless this season, seemed under no pressure at all in any areas of the pitch and Old Trafford was stunned to silence when they opened up an easy 2-0 lead.The Red Devils boss was on his knees at one point, pummelling the turf with his hand as he pleaded for his players to give more on the pitch. 4 One of the targets of his fury was Martial, with the manager instructing him to work harder in his defensive duties as Newcastle kept piling on the pressure.The French forward, with the rest of the United team, responded after the break and found the net as part of the comeback.But Holloway was not impressed by the 22-year-old’s attitudeHe added: “How can Anthony Martial not run back?“You’ve got two things to do – you go forward on a Kawasaki 1500 and you come back on a faster bike, you don’t come back on a scooter, son!“He stood still and argued with him! I don’t understand, who is he to do that?!“You are not bigger than Manchester United, mate. Nobody is bigger than Manchester United.”Listen back to Ian Holloway on talkSPORT 2 above! 4 4 Mourinho was raging at his side throughout the first half last_img read more


first_imgA young mother has alleged how she awoke to find her boyfriend’s friend in her bed touching her intimately.Letterkenny Court.The Co Donegal woman found the man touching her breasts and bum and raising her leg after he slipped into her bed while she and her partner slept. The woman, who cannot be named, appeared by video-link from Australia where she now lives.She was giving evidence to Letterkenny Circuit Court this afternoon where a man has gone on trial charged with sexual assault.The alleged assault, which the man denies, took place at a house in Letterkenny on May 17th, 2010.Before the court is a man in his 30s who has pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault.The court heard that the woman, her partner and the accused had all met at the Golden Grill Nightclub in Letterkenny.They all got a taxi home.The woman revealed how the man was given the spare room in their house and she went to bed with her partner and they had sex.However she awoke some time later to find the man in their bed touching her breasts and bum and trying to lift her leg.“He told me to shush and everything would be okay. I told him to get out but he wouldn’t get out of the bed,” said the woman.The woman then screamed at the man and told him to get out of the room as she woke her boyfriend.Her boyfriend also shouted at the man and he left the room to go back to the spare room.The woman then said she went into another spare room and barricaded herself into the room with a chest of drawers and cried herself to sleep.The next morning the woman told her partner to ask the man to leave the house.He did so and after some time the accused and the woman’s partner left the house to go to the pub.Defence barrister Peter Nolan put it to the woman that because she had had so much to drink on the night that most of her memory was a daze.He put it to her that the incident did not happen at all and did she not find it unusual that her partner left with the accused to go to the pub.The woman said she was angry with her partner for doing this and she had actually broken up with him for a while because of this.She declared “I know exactly what happened when XXXXX came into my bed.“I would never bring this case four years later and then allegedly make something up.“We are a family but I will never forgive (her partner) for walking out the door with XXXX,” she said.The trial before a jury of seven women and five men continues before Judge Keenan Johnson tomorrow.WOMAN ALLEGES SHE ‘WOKE TO FIND PARTNER’S FRIEND TOUCHING HER IN BED’ – COURT was last modified: February 5th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

H-DNL football: Ferndale captures Little 4 title

first_imgLane Branstetter had two rushing touchdowns, Jenner Christiansen and Landon Gomes each threw a touchdown pass to Tristen Martin and Ferndale High captured its first outright Little 4 Conference title since 2012 with a 42-6 win over visiting Hoopa Valley, Saturday afternoon at Coach Carlson Wildcat Field.“Trusting my receivers is a big part of it,” Christiansen said. “We have a special team this year, we do lots of conditioning and its definitely paying off.”Each week during what has been a …last_img read more

Warriors on TV: NBA drops two games from national schedule

first_imgNo longer a marquee attraction, the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors are losing out on the kind of prime-time exposure they’ve enjoyed for years.The NBA has removed two Warriors games from the upcoming national TV schedule and it’s easy to see why. Without superstars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State owns the league’s worst record at 4-18 and aren’t exactly must-see TV material.The Warriors were scheduled to play on ESPN against Utah on Dec. 13 and against Portland on Dec. 18. …last_img read more

Why are So Many Android Owners Male?

first_imgDroid. Should a phone be pretty? Should it be a tiara-wearing digitally clueless beauty pageant queen? Or should it be fast? Racehorse duct-taped to a Scud missile fast. We say the latter. So we built the phone that does. Does rip through the Web like a circular saw through a ripe banana. Is it a precious porcelain figurine of a phone? In truth? No. It’s not a princess. It’s a robot. A phone that trades hair-do for can-do.So congratulations, marketers. It appears you have successfully attracted the males to your handset. But in ignoring the potential female users, you’re doing smartphone owners a disservice. The Droid, and other Android-based phones too, are powerful, attractive and easy-to-use handsets that should have a broad appeal. It may be time to remind the women of that. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces …and other interesting smartphone statistics. When compared with some of the other smartphones on the market, owners of phones running Google’s Android mobile operating system are predominantly male. This finding comes from analytics firm AdMod’s latest Mobile Metrics Report, which revealed that 73% of Android users are male. Meanwhile, on the iPhone, iPod Touch and Palm platforms, the ratio of male-to-female owners was more even. However, males were still in the majority even on those devices, accounting for 54% to 58% of the users. This was only one of the findings from the firm’s January report, which also examined ages of smartphone owners, propensity to download and pay for mobile applications and interest in purchasing the upcoming Apple iPad. Kids Love the iPod Touch and the Free AppsMost of the statistics AdMob revealed weren’t all that shocking. For example, iPhone owners are more likely to purchase an iPad than owners of other smartphones. And while 16% said they intend to buy Apple’s new slate computer when it arrives in March, only 11% of Palm webOS users and 6% of Android owners said the same. This finding can easily be attributed to the so-called “fanboy” syndrome among Apple hardware owners – that is, the tendency of those who own Apple products to want to buy more Apple products. Sometimes described as fanaticism, it’s really just a testament to the popularity of the brand and its repeat customer business.Another interesting, but still explainable, statistic involves the buying habits of iPod Touch and iPhone owners. Those who own the less-expensive iPod Touch devices tend to download more free applications than those who own an iPhone. And they download a lot of apps, too. On average, iTouch owners download 12 apps per month – that’s 37% more apps than iPhone and Android users. They also spend more time playing with their apps – 100 minutes per day, 25% more time than iPhone or Android users. At first, those figures may have you scratching your head – after all, isn’t the iPod Touch the exact same mobile operating system as the iPhone? And doesn’t its Wi-Fi-only connectivity actually limit the functionality of a lot applications since so many require an Internet connection to work? The answer to both questions is yes. But the reason why the iPod users appear to be more active and engaged is explained in another section of the report. According to the demographics, they’re much younger. 78% of iPod Touch users are under 25 (compared with 25% of iPhone users) and they’re often students, too. These are the very sort of users who have time to play with a ton of apps. They’re also, not surprisingly, the least likely to pay for them. iPod Touch owners download an average of 10.5 free apps per month and only 1.6 paid apps during that same time. iPhone owners, however, download 7.0 free apps per month and 1.8 paid ones. Why are So Many Android Owners Male?The only truly odd statistic to arise from this report is the gender variance among Android owners. With a 78%/22% male-to-female ratio, the question that comes to mind is why are so many owners male? There is a wide range of Android-powered smartphones for people to choose from, including everything from sleek-and-shiny HTC devices to keyboard-ready Droids from Motorola and Verizon. In other words, there’s an Android handset out there for everyone. Our only guess as to why the statistics are skewing male for Android may have something to do with the latest Droid marketing efforts. Commercials for Verizon’s Droid send the message that the phones are the equivalent of having a “robot in your pocket,” and the latest show a robot’s finger quickly typing out searches on the phone’s on-screen keyboard. While arguably, some females are sure to love robots, too (especially those interested in reading about smartphone statistics here!), a campaign that uses robots and reminds you of all the things the Droid does that the iPhone doesn’t, is a not-too-subtle attempt to play to the male ego and that gender’s stereotypical desire for constant one-upmanship among their peers. And that’s not the worst of it, either. Another Droid ad, spotted by CNNMoney blogger Elmer DeWitt in December, targeted the male demographic in the “most testosterone-heavy TV commercial to date,” he noted at the time. The ad copy read: Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Tags:#mobile#NYT#Trends#web Related Posts sarah perez The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Electronic teddy bears the latest target for hackers

first_imgRecorded messages spoken to teddy bears could be the latest target for hackers, according to a report from security researcher Troy Hunt.CloudPets toys, the maker of electronic stuffed animals, left the personal information available for anyone to see. This included details of the child and recorded messages.See Also: Smart cities will soon buzz with drones prone to hacking, conflictsThe data was indexed by Shodan, a search engine that publicizes data from insecure devices. Over 800,000 account details and 2.2 million recorded messages were available.Hackers and data miners used the personal information for ransom, some asking the parents for Bitcoins in exchange for the data. Others may use the account details, which include the password, to hack into more valuable online accounts.Because you can doesn’t mean you shouldCloudPets has taken the personal information offline since the leak, but did not inform its customers that their information had been made available online. This is in breach of state law in California, and CloudPets may face serious charges for failure to inform its users.Spiral Toys, the makers of CloudPets, was unavailable for comment.“This is the perfect example of why just because you can connect a device to the Internet, it doesn’t mean you should,” said Steven Malone, Director of Security Product Management at Mimecast.“Additionally, if you’re going to trust a company with your sensitive data – be it email, files, web traffic or in this case, highly personal content – doing so without checking the security credentials and practices of the cloud provider in question is simply asking for trouble.”It is not the first toy company that has shown poor authentication practices, Cayla dolls in Germany were found to have serious security flaws. Hunt also found the same security flaw in VTech gadgets for kids. Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… David Curry Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#authentication#CloudPets#data#encryption#hacking#ransomware#security#Spiral Toys#toys center_img Related Posts Follow the Puck Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to…last_img read more

Bard Of The Bedroom?

first_img“My grief fell like drops of honey on the white sheets on my desk. My sorrow floated over the pages of magazines darkly as heavy monsoon clouds do in the sky…” —Kamala Das in My Story.Yes, and I recall playing weatherman. I was just out of college, writing occasional pieces as a freelancer for a small-time youth magazine. Its editor, a rotund, balding and perennially perspiring young man, summoned me to his office one day, thrust a pre-release copy of My Story into my hands with the kind of furtiveness reserved for the transfer of contraband goods, and hissed, “This is the autobiography of Kamala Das. Absolute dynamite! You know Kamala Das?” I told him no, not personally, but I’d read her poems. “Good,” he said. “Get me a review of this book by next Monday.”It was the mid-1970s, the days of political and social upheaval that saw Indira Gandhi’s Emergency and her subsequent downfall, and the rise of Indian feminism. But until then, feminist ideas existed only in the abstract theoretical treatises penned by intellectuals, their discussions restricted to long-faced impersonal seminars or the occasional Times of India editorial. And, for the record, you had the nation’s most famous flower-child Protima Bedi streaking brazenly across a parking lot in downtown Bombay — with a photographer in tow! My Story, however was deeper, and much more primal. The rebellion came through like a bolt of lightning. It spoke in the personal voice of a woman talking straight and with unalloyed frankness about her own private life, recounting her angst as a wife who was sexually exploited but emotionally unfulfilled, laying bare her soul before the world, warts and all.Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, the warts got all the attention. Salivating reviewers and readers alike took a prurient interest in the “hot parts” of the book, which made it an instant bestseller. But even those parts weren’t anywhere like the pornographic stuff devoured by hormonally charged teenagers in school and college. True, they were accounts of extra-marital affairs — even some homoerotic ones —but they all had a deep undertone of sadness and resignation. There was an unmistakable poetry in the book’s prose, a liberating and cathartic abandon hitherto unseen among English-language works by Indian women. Having an affair was one thing, not exactly encouraged, but something akin to a skeleton stuffed guiltily into the family closet of unspoken secrets. Writing about it though, and that too without camouflaging it as fiction, was an absolute taboo. Phew! This female Indian writer had trespassed into forbidden areas.“I am every / Woman who seeks love…” — Summer in Calcutta.“Gift him all, Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts, The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your Endless female hungers…” — The Looking Glass.The image stuck. For an entire generation of Indians who came of age reading the English-language works of their compatriots, Kamala Das was the temptress with a pen, the bard of the bedroom. And the word, spoken not written, had spread so wide that even those who’d never read a single word of her poetry or prose, assumed the worst. You could never mention her name in most middle-class drawing room conversations those days without inviting winks and knowing looks from people who ironically knew nothing about her writing. So much for the mentality — and morality — of much of the Indian middle class.But for those — like this writer — who were privileged to know her as a person and as a friend, Kamala Das was a revelation, as were her evocative short stories — most of them unpublished — her nude paintings, her efforts to convince young people to get politically organized. Unlike other celebrities, she was generous with her time, even for the wannabe campus poets of those days who were more eager than talented. She was even more generous and impulsive with her gifts — in cash and kind, and especially for the needy — a habit which, she told me, nearly pauperized her family and drove her into writing her serialized autobiography from a hospital bed to pay her medical bills. I first met Kamala Das in 1979. I’d taken over as editor of Mirror magazine and, keen to rev up its indifferent circulation, had convinced the otherwise tight-fisted publisher into loosening his purse-strings for big-name writers. Kamala Das then lived in Bombay with her banker husband, and I cajoled a common friend into arranging a meeting. The evening I landed at her apartment happened to be the day of her monthly adda — an open house for all sorts of people to lounge in her spacious living room, sip tea and perform, read out their works, or simply exchange ideas. Every person had to do something — you couldn’t merely sit around as a passive spectator. I was seated next to Raghava Menon, the Delhi-based music critic who was a distant relative of hers and had written a book on K.L. Saigal. Menon sang a Saigal song. My turn was next. She turned her heavy-lidded gaze toward me, smiled like an indulgent mother, and nodded. I belted out a Jagmohan number. Kamala was impressed, not so much by the singing (I’m not sure she was musically inclined), but by the fact that a young man in his mid-20s had chosen a vintage 1940s song.It was the start of a year-long association. I confessed right at the start that I was interested primarily in getting her byline into my magazine, that I wanted to “use” her name as a writer to boost circulation. “Sure, use it,” she agreed. But she had no ready topic to write on. She came up with a solution: “Why don’t we meet as often as possible, and just talk? Maybe something will emerge from it.”A cover-story idea did emerge from our long talks. It was her heart-rending piece called “The Guilt of Abortion.” The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, enacted in the early 1970s to prevent quacks from endangering the health of pregnant women, had become the focus of public debate after an astonishingly sharp rise in “legal” abortions across India. I told Kamala I would rather leave its political and sociological analysis to the more “serious” journals, and focus instead on the personal question of what an abortion meant to a woman. “Just my kind of story,” she said. “I know the guilt of abortion.” I was dumbstruck, and didn’t dare to probe further. Was I playing Bhootnath to her Chhoti Bahu from the cult film Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam?Over time, we drifted apart. Our meetings became less frequent, and briefer. As the magazine’s circulation grew, so did my responsibilities. And I realized I was meeting her more as a friend exchanging notes on life, than as an editor angling for story ideas. Her health too did not allow much socializing. The last time we met was to finalize the winner of Mirror’s poetry contest in 1981. She was a judge, along with Nissim Ezekiel and Dom Moraes, and impressed us with her sharp, insightful evaluations. For someone with minimal formal education, she possessed an extraordinarily refined, albeit intuitive, sense of the writing craft. I told her so. “Oh, it’s nothing,” she responded dismissively. “You read some, you write some, and it comes.”Ultimately, the public perception of Kamala Das as a controversial figure had a lot to do with the inability of analysts to neatly categorize this confusing bundle of contradictions. A woman liberated in spirit, who hated feminists and their brand of freedom, and looked upon her husband as her only real companion. A blue-blood Malayalee Nair who bloomed in the rustic environment of Kerala, but admitted that her best poems were written in the bustling cauldron of Bombay. A woman self-indulgently in love with the concept of love, fascinated by the Radha-Krishna bonding, deeply believing in the power of mantras, yet convinced that all religions had crossed their expiry dates — only to convert to Islam before her death.She was blessed, however, with unconditional love and support from her family. Her husband glowed in her presence, and openly thought she was the world’s best writer. Her sons protected the widowed poet from barbs over her conversion. “She is our mother whether she is a Hindu or Christian or Muslim,” one of them asserted. “We would be with her all the time.”“…Why not leave Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins, Every one of you? Why not let me speak in Any language I like? The language I speak Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses All mine, mine alone.” — An Introduction.Farewell Kamala, and rest in peace. The world will bother you no more. Related Itemslast_img read more