Category Archives: Literature

ओस जैसी ज़िन्दगी…

dew drops

Abhinav SIngh continues to use words to melt us. Another masterpiece.

हरे झुकते पत्तों पे सरसराती सी फिसलन,
घास पे हीरे के जैसे हो रखी,
जैसे कोई नयी नवेली दुल्हन।
अंततः रिसते हुए जाती मिटटी के आगोश,
क्यूँ इतनी छोटी जिन्दगी होती तेरी ओस।
तेरा अस्तित्व तेरा वजूद तब दिखता,
जब बूंदों से होती ये ज़मीन पावन।
बिन बारिश न  है तू, जब  होती,
तो पल  में सिमटता तेरा जीवन।
अंततः रिसते हुए जाती मिटटी के आगोश,
क्यूँ इतनी छोटी जिन्दगी होती तेरी ओस।
जिंदगी चाहे छोटी हो,
पर हंसी हरपल  बनी रहे।
कुछ ओस से ही सिख ले,
कि चमक हरपल सजी रहे।
अंततः तुझे जाना है,
रिसते हुए मिटटी के आगोश।
फिर भी जिन्दगी जीना,
तू सिखला जाती ओस।
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Oh Mr. Darcy!

Jane Austen’s celebrated novel, Pride and Prejudice, completed 200 years in 2013. On this event, Sampurna Majumder pays her homage to the extremely disagreeable but irresistibly handsome Mr. Darcy – the man who’s appeal years could not take away!

Colin-firth-mr-darcy

Last night I was watching the screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Almost every sentence of the book had been adopted. I was relieving every bit of the pages from of the book.

Well, it is a truth universally acknowledged that even 200 years down the line, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy continues to linger in the collective imagination of women across the globe. I first fell in love with this “most disagreeable man” when I was barely 12. And then once again while in high school and I still continue to fall for him every time I read (or re-read) the novel or watch the screen adaptations.

But what is it about this disagreeable man that turns him into the most desirable one by the end of the novel? A lot has changed since Austen’s novel was published. We find Elizabeth Bennett challenging every social more about society and marriage and standing by what she believed in – marrying out of love. Today’s women are socially and economically independent. But Mr. Darcy’s appeal has not waned away.

So what is it about this conceited ‘gentleman’ that still women yearn for? Well, let’s ponder over it a little:

mr-darcyAccording to some, he is the archetypal alpha male, emotionally unavailable and emerges as the good responsible guy at the end. It is probably his mysterious and intriguing nature that women find appealing. There’s something very fascinating in a man who stays aloof and chooses to confide only in the woman he admires and makes her feel privileged. Yes he is blunt, but at the same time he is fiercely protective about people he cares for.

Darcy embodies the perfect example of a ‘diamond in the rough’. At first impression he comes out as conceited and arrogant who is only mellowed down by the goodness of Elizabeth Bennett and also his younger sister.

Most importantly he does not try to be the knight in shining armour to win Elizabeth’s love. He is secretly involved in Elizabeth’s life and considers her as his equal; and he doesn’t pretend. He is matured enough to realise his pride and when he does, we find him going back to Elizabeth and asking her hand in marriage for the second time (since Elizabeth rejects the first proposal).

The irresistible Mr. Darcy has stood the test of time and the various adaptations have proved it time and again. Be it Mr. Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones Diary or Mr. Big in Sex and the City, Darcy’s various avatars continue to enthral us.

Tagore, the Painter

Most of us knows about Tagore, the poet, the novelist, the song writer. But did you know that this Nobel Laureate was also a painter! Sampurna Majumder acquaints us with Tagore, the painter. 

tagore-s-painting-of-queer-animal-on-two-limbs

We all are aware of the great literary figure Rabindranath Tagore. Yes, he was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and his composed verse ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was adopted as the country’s national anthem.

Though known to the world as renowned poet, versatility was his middle name. He was a poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher, social reformer, musician and also an artist. Egged by an insatiable urge for creativity, Tagore took up the brush when he was around 65. In his own words, “Now in the evening of my life, my mind is filled with forms and colours.” He often perceived this passion as an affair in the evening of his life.

Tagore delved into this passion in 1926 and such a prolific painter he turned out to be, that within four years he held nine painting exhibition across Europe, and also in Boston and New York.

tagore's paintingWhat sets him apart as a painter is the sheer forms within vast canvases of formlessness. His paintings transcend all known canons of art and some of his early compositions comprise doodles of thoughts. Some of these tend to resemble birds, faces and sometimes monsters.

In his subsequent compositions, human figures usually vertically positioned can be spotted. The main focus happened to be human faces upholding various facial expressions such as anger, disgust, laughter and so on. In his series titled ‘Heads’ female figures appear more often.

Pen-and-ink constituted many of his works. Some of best paintings are but doodles in pen-and-ink exhibiting his mastery over pen and ink.

Tagores-ArtTagore later shifted focus to landscape and colours became an important constituent of them. Silhouetted trees placed against the bright sky and absence of human figures became some of the major highlights of landscape paintings. Reddish, yellowish and brownish hues are prominent and the absence of human figures adds an element of mysteriousness to the paintings. He never made preparatory sketches; the images simply flowed through on canvas or paper.

The total oeuvre of 3000 paintings, composed between 1926 and 1940 trace the extraordinary talent of the genius Rabindranath Tagore.

Review of The Maid Servant’s Story

Arranged MarriageThe Maid Servant’s Story is a part of a compilation of short stories called Arranged Marriage, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of The Mistress of Spices. This story is a typical example of meta-narrative. The maternal aunt exemplifies her disapproval of the colour orange for the bridal outfit of her niece by relating an unfortunate tale about a family which hires a maid servant who supposedly wrought devastation on the family.

The title, in my opinion, should imply the content of the short story. But the title of this story is misleading in a way that it seems to suggest a story narrated by the maid servant rather than a story about the maid servant. Moreover, it is unclear till the end as to why and how a maid servant could impact so tremendously on the mistress so as to bring about the drastic change in the latter’s personality.

There are four women characters and one male character in the story, each of whom are given equal importance so much so that it becomes difficult to decide as to who is the main protagonist – the indifferent and morose mother, the sophisticated, America-returned Manisha, the intrusive but concerned observer, Deepa mashi (aunty) or the dark, sensual, intelligent maid servant.

Another conspicuous fact about the story is that the narrator and niece, Manisha, is unable to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruniconvey the crux of the story with clarity. The wife’s recognition of the infidelity of the husband which might have led her to develop a cold attitude, the companionship between the wife and the maid servant and their sudden separation, the niece’s realisation of her family background and the consequent detachment of her mother from her – any of these issues can be said to be the core aspect of the story.

On the whole, the story was very verbose, vague and unnecessarily melodramatic in certain places. However, the other short stories in the same book are not as unclear as this one. Keep a lookout for the review of The Palace of Illusions, a phenomenal rendition of the Mahabharata, from Draupadi’s point of view.

Battle of the Sexes in The Story of an Hour

The Story of an HourTrue to the title, The Story of an Hour is a story of one hour in the life of the protagonist, Louise Mallard, who is ‘happily married’. When she hears about the death of her husband her immediate reaction is remorse. However, a while later, she feels ecstatic on being free! Mrs. Mallard cries with abandon instead of being paralysed with shock at the misfortune. While she withdraws to her personal space to reflect on her future life, a realization dawns on her which makes her cry out “free, free….Free! Body and soul free!” Ironically, she dies on seeing her husband alive and unhurt by the train accident.

The simple words of Mrs. Mallard allude to her subjugated status. The experience of ecstasy at being liberated from what seems to be an agreeable marriage is the crux of the story. Mrs. Mallard’s situation is not an isolated incident of repression in the lives of the so-called ‘happily married’ couples. The significant sentences which convey the rigid patriarchal domination and Mrs. Mallard’s subsequent relief at her husband’s demise were, “There would be no powerful will bending hers in a blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime….”

The subtlety with which Chopin delineates the mindscape of a woman trapped in a despotic Kate Chopinmarriage and her realization of her zest for freedom is commendable. Mrs. Mallard’s first name being revealed only towards the end of the story is significant since it shows the subsumption of the wife’s identity in her husband’s. Ironically, the protagonist experiences tragedy and liberty at the same time. But the real irony and paradox lies in the doctor’s comment of “a joy that kills” at the death of Mrs. Mallard.

A hardcore feminist, Chopin’s intention behind writing the story seems to be to emphasize the damaging results of the battle between the sexes. The subtle expressions, metaphors and paradoxes combined with the economy of words add to the impact of the story.