Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night: Farewell Comrade Satnam

'Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night……'

Dylan Thomas' father was losing his eyesight when he wrote this poem and we will never quite know the reasons for the specifics of the rage that led to Satnam –Gurmit –to take his own life. He was found dead at his residence in Patiala late on the evening of April 27. Unsung by large sections of the media, friends and associates, admirers and others on social media mourned his loss. He was 64 when he died.
Ranjana Padhi, “ He was a friend to many and his house in Ranjit Nagar a home to us all. An end of a rare friendship going beyond ideology and politics – cos we dare to dream and dare to critique and dream still…Suffice it Gurmit that I put up your book cover here. You would have scoffed at this too and laughed and said…"Kudi…tum log facebook pe kya kya karte ho!" I do not have the nerve right now to put up your foto and see the grinning face with the shining eyes! Inspired always by your commitment, warmth, passion and imagination…will always be. "
Many would know of Satnam –described alternately as a brilliant and courageous mind and a gentle soul –as the author of Jangalnama, the classic travelogue, hailed by critics writing in the English language as India’s answer to ‘Red Star Over China’ a book authored in 1937 by Edgar Snow. The book was written in 12 days in 2004 after a visit to Bastar in 2001. Today with Chhatisgarh the centre of brute state repression, the work becomes relevant, with Satnam’s departure, once again.
As Vishav Bharti who translated this seminal work wrote in the Tribune after Satnam’s death Whose obituary do you want to write?’ he would have laughed at me. ‘G Fellow’, who was admired by the radical Left cadre as a commentator on international politics? Gurmeet Singh — the name that he shed decades ago in Amritsar when he joined the Naxalite movement in the 1970s?

Satnam, who died in Patiala on Wednesday night at the age of 64, lived many lives. Sometimes as an underground Maoist guerrilla, sometimes as a democratic rights activist on fact-finding missions on human rights violations in Kashmir and Gujarat genocide, or as a creative writer, who would write with equal felicity in Punjabi, Hindi and English.

Like many youngsters in 1970s, he also left home with a dream that the world can be made a better place to live. “But he was one of the few who remained steadfast in his belief till their last,” says Prof Bawa Singh, his close friend and former vice-chairman, National Commission for Minorities.

All these decades, besides political activism, Satnam kept on writing short stories and political commentary under different pen names. “He had written around 15 short stories but nobody bothered to preserve them and he himself was busy in activism, so most of these are lost,” reveals Singh. Among those writings only one story, World’s Oldest Profession, on prostitution that appeared in a Hindi magazine has survived.’

The remainder of Dylan Thomas' Poem

'….Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953



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