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Ahimsaland and the Increment of Human Excrement

Ahimsaland and the Increment of Human Excrement

Umar Nizar

One fine morning, I was answering the call of nature, like any `Swachch’ citizen of a sacred land, in the designated toilet of a JNU hostel, where I was residing at that time. Imagine my astonishment, on being accosted by a fellow hosteler who, while brushing his teeth,  and foaming at the mouth,was shouting at me for having polluted the precincts with my stand-up micturition. I had to use the `Duchamp’ style bidet, and not the ‘squatting `Indian style’, so went his argument. The purpose of the not so well-meaning hosteller was to assert his power and humiliate me. This could be written off as pettiness on my part. After all maturity means magnanimity. But a pattern was forming, which then kept on repeating. While boarding aircrafts, the staff at the check-in counters would inevitably allot me seats near the loo where I would be privy to elite kids’ mid-flight discussions and woes on the not so insignificant perils of studying abroad.

The situation would have been comic, were it not so coruscating and brutal about social norms and attitudes in a neo-feudal era of post-human conservatism. I tried to make light of these incidents by referring to the sitcom, `’The Big Bang Theory’ where a Semitic character, Howard Wolfowitz’s claim to fame is having designed a space toilet. Later in the series, he is sent to the space station himself, on some kind of scientific errand. Though it was never explicitly stated in the program, I somehow imagined that he was sent on a mission to space to repair the space loo he had designed.  Coming from a milieu were scatology is associated not with comedy, but anthropology, it was only fitting that rumours of  an ex-PM being a follower of urine therapy were in the air. The homeostasis that the casteist man could achieve, via consumption of his own product, must have been terribly relieving if not liberating. The official spiel on autopoiesis goes thus:

‘There is a strong current in contemporary culture advocating ‘ holistic ‘ views as some sort of cure-all… Reductionism implies attention to a lower level while holistic implies attention to higher level. These are intertwined in any satisfactory description: and each entails some loss relative to our cognitive preferences, as well as some gain… there is no whole system without an interconnection of its parts and there is no whole system without an environment.’

~ Francisco Varela (

Again in JNU, that bastion of Brahmanical mediocrity, an ivy league faculty of cinema studies would later quip, after a routine lecture break, that it was too evident that I had returned from the loo, to a classroom full of students. In the big apple where she was a student, people apparently did not piss.  In retaliation, I scrawled `’R.Mutt’ in pastels over the pissoirs in  the School’s loo, though she would in all probability have never seen it.

Arundhati Roy in her Booker winning `’God of Small Things’ uses a scatological ditty, that too in Malayalam, which goes, “’pepperapepperaperakka, enteparambilthoorallay, chettanteparambilthoorikko’, which roughly translates as “gu, guava, guava, don’t crap in my precincts, crap in my bro’s’. The joke was in the vehemence of its prize winning tone. Here was a tyro novelist smuggling the earthiness of Malayalam into cosmopolitan Europe! In the same novel, a young boy would be sexually molested by a predator, while on a solo mission to use the loo without the aid of his mom, which was sort of heartbreaking.

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek uses a characteristic joke to demonstrate how ideology manifests as everyday reality. For Žižek, the gravity-driven immediacy of the Francophone loo is a by-product of French revolutionary thought. The floating mess created in the teutonic WC is but a symptom of Teutonic idealism,  a la Hegel and Schelling (not to forget Kant). The floating-submerging couplet of Armitage Shanks is a proxy for  English utilitarianism. Then things don’t look too rosy for the fabled shad-darsanas, as they don’t look good for Manu either, from a rear side point of view.


Umar Nizarudeen is with the University of Calicut, India. He has a PhD in Bhakti Studies from the Centre for English Studies in JNU, New Delhi. His poems and articles have been published in Vayavya, Muse India, Culture Cafe Journal of the British Library, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Bombay Review, The Madras Courier, FemAsia, Sabrang India, India Gazette London, Ibex Press Year’s Best Selection, and also broadcast by the All India Radio.