Dear Mr Marley, Apologies for disturbing your great jam in the sky and many thanks in advance for taking time and reading my message. I am on holiday in Kerala with my wife and would not have interrupted my life or yours if the urgency of the matter at hand had not constricted me to take this extreme measure. Mr Marley, you are the face of the war on drugs in Kerala. Yes, you got that right Mr Marley, the Kerala police has resurrected you — dead, retired, resting in peace, etc — like teenagers resurrect a halfway decent joint from dead roaches — and are calling you the great corrupter of souls, the pied piper minus the first half, the Walter White in God’s own country. They are calling you, yes sir, you, the brand ambassador of marijuana and are raiding shops that even dare sell T-shirts with your picture on it. Earlier this week the police pulled down a clothing shop called ‘ganja’ because it was using your image to propagate a culture that is against the Indian culture. According to a news report quoting the Kerala police, “…even the mere sight of these narcotic substances and associated idols in the printed form can propagate a morbid fascination with cannabis and other recreational drugs.” Can you please issue a press release making clear your stand on the matter?
Like you, I am aware that when it comes to getting high it doesn’t get higher than Mount Kailash, but I cannot do much in the matter. It gets into the terrain of religion and religion isn’t a safe topic to talk about unless one has saffron underwear, which I do not own. Neither do the Kerala police perhaps. So they cast you, Mr Marley, instead, as the devil, the Mugambo in Kerala police’s version of Mr India. The devil isn’t just an idea anymore: it has a face. It looks like you, Mr Marley.
Today as I was walking along Kovalam beach thinking about you, I let my mind wander and was curious to know how you spend your days now that you are dead? Do you sit around all day smoking pot, aka, ganja, marijuana, Kerala gold, Manali cream or do you jam all day long? Do you cry when the West Indies lose? Do you speak to dead writers and read the books they never wrote? Have you hung out with Proust? Do you know how DF Wallace really wanted The Pale King to end? Do you ever ask John Lennon if he was really assassinated or did he will his own death by black magic? Have you met Nelson Mandela? I entertained such thoughts and walked, occasionally glancing at the beach, occasionally looking at the shops that no longer sold T-shirts with your face on them until I saw young boys, younger by five or six years than the teenagers the police is out to protect from you, a certified dead man, in the arms of predatory middle aged men, frolicking in the frothy sand, making a spectacle of their innocence and the paying power of their adult friends, a one-act performance where middle-aged men, normally gruff and bustling about their business, adopt the gait of a sensuous dancer to celebrate the fulfilment of their innermost desires. At that moment I decided I had to write to you. Why don’t you appear in the dreams of the police officers and create ripples in their psychic pools so that they wake up and smell the filter coffee and get down to actually doing something about protecting our children instead of trying to obliterate the visions of an iconoclastic, peaceful and equal future that the young are so apt to entertain when they first confront the absolute madness that passes for reality?