[ I received the news late last night from CounterPunch--one of my favorite columnists--activist, visionary, poet, philosopher, friend of the downtrodden, Andre Vltchek, had slumped into the seat of a taxicab, his wife next to him, while traveling somewhere in Turkey, and never woke up. I truly did not want to believe it--in a worldwide desert terrain of corrupted and degraded "journalism", he, like John Pilger, was a refreshing exception, and relentlessly traveled far and wide, to many of the world's troubled spots, to give voice to the downtrodden, exploited, murdered and butchered. But it turned out to be true (much as we read about the much younger Michael Brooks' passage only a few weeks earlier). His last quote from the article I read (https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/09/25/andre-vltcheks-sudden-death/) seemed to sum up the overarching truth he always wanted to reveal--that he witnessed human suffering in nation after nation, and, most significantly, his belief that this world and civilization itself would never heal "until Western imperialism ceased to exist". There is some speculation that this may well be a political murder. I wrote this tribute poem remembering the one-of-a-kind Andre Vltchek. ]
(For Andre Vltchek- 1962-2020)
Imagining a Different World
Monish R Chatterjee © 2020
had admired your visions, your gentle rebukes
Your poet's touch even in strident reprimands of avarice and plunder
Your scouring the earth's most desperate places to find human stories
Your unbounded compassion towards the neglected and tyrannized.
had admired these at a distance. During
these times of human
Degeneration carried to extremes, worldwide, with often their origins
In the imperial headquarters of the West. To say you were courageous
Brave, outspoken, visionary - these all would be quite inadequate.
a handful of noble, humane spokespeople in times of aimless
Gluttony, you took on a special place in my hierarchy of social
Responsibility. I once wrote about such illustrious predecessors -
Vidal, Zinn, Vonnegut, Terkel - sentinels, I called them. And in that
I did not include any from my own corner of the earth, India.
I mentioned one or more big-hearted, lesser-known ones such as
John Ross, spending his last days among those fighting drug wars
Imposed from Mexico's imperial Northern neighbor. You, Andre
a place somewhere in that hierarchy. You
did not pick up
The gun as a revolutionary, as Che did. You did not stand and deliver
Powerful and persuasive speeches, as did Malcolm or Frederick.
You did not go on exile to build up an army of expatriates to fight
greatest empire of history, upon which the sun supposedly never
Set, as did India's Subhas. But in an age of technological breakthroughs
And instant gratification, you were a warrior on the ancient, evolved
Ground, your heart resonated with creatures without possessions
idyllic campaigns were much like those of an Assange and a Medea
For someone from a slightly older generation, you stood out as a symbol
Of hope - that ideals of humanity and indeed a different world
Are very much alive and well. And I always trusted I would read more.
it hit me like a ton of bricks, scrolling down the CounterPunch
Headlines - Andre Vltchek and "death" on the same line. I would not
Believe it; like the news of Michael Brooks only a few weeks earlier -
Incredulous! Not this poet, this philosopher, this itinerant traveler
for the voiceless. But bad news does
often prove correct
And indeed the good are often gone too soon, while Kissinger
With the blood of innumerable innocents on his hands, lives on.
Back in the 1980s, they made the memorable film titled
My Dinner with Andre. Ever a lover of great conversation, I have
Savored great moments of conversation on film, including many
On the Satyajit Ray masterpieces. Without you to guide the planet
To safety, it will forever remain my wish - my own elusive
Unrealized My Dinner with Andre, the dreamer and idealist.
(Article changed on September 27, 2020 at 04:53)