I am honoured to be in such a venue with great writers and also honoured to be in a place which is known in the name of great writer like Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer. I am happier to speak on a dais along with few people branded as anti-nationals like me. When I speak in Kerala, I get trolled more. Whenever I am in Kerala, I don’t need any script. Nothing has changed. A few months back, when I returned after a speech in Kerala, they cursed me, ‘Don’t come back, go back to Kerala. I loved the curse because they are sending me back to heaven. This time, when I was in the flight, a young man sitting nearby asked me on my trip to attend the literature festival, “What do you get to raise your voice?”. I said I get liberated.
Art forms, performing arts and literature has a power to transform people. When there is blood on the road and when there is fear lurking on the corners, the literature has told me not to talk about sunrises and sunsets of the beautiful earth, but only on dissent, rising dissent as the way to protest. This is happening at a time when there are different narratives happening in the country. If you ask a question you will not get an answer, but a question back. If you ask them, what about the jobs they promised to youths of the country, they will ask, are you Congress? If you ask them, what about the support price for farm produces and on the grievances of the farmer, they will ask, are you a Communist?
What I like to warn them is, don’t try to throw stone at me or this younger generation. We will build houses of it. Don’t try to shower fire and burn our grounds, we will make them the light of our houses. Don’t try to chase away, frighten us away—we will reach the goal we wanted to reach a little faster. There is a widespread attempt to deviate attention from the reality. If we stand up together, they will be threatened. Let us resist with our songs, with our films, with our literature, theatre, polity. Every single citizen of this country has the right to speak, power to question, power to celebrate our fundamental rights. We take oath to be fearless citizens.