Thursday, 17 January 2013

Is Love a Swan or Crow? - Part II

Back in the village, Naran now looks at the place he had grown in. The village is bald and barren. Mango and coconut groves, which once added luster to the beauty of the village, have now yielded ground to high-rise buildings. The village is now wearing a new cap…. cap of modernity and development. The new bus station is a quite a sight of him as it was not there before. People are swarming a wine shop that had sprouted near the village temple. ‘Change seems to be the new mantra of the village, but I feel I don’t belong here,’ he thought.

When he comes close to his house, he sees his mother sitting in the courtyard, chatting animatedly with a woman, and laughing. Naran’s heart tugs at the sight as he thinks how his mother could laugh heartily forgetting the premature death of his elder son. A moment later, Shoba comes out of his house, and his heart misses a beat. It’s with great effort that he restrains his thought of going over to her and taking her in his arms.

Draping herself in a gorgeous Kanjeevaram silk sari with a matching designer blouse, Shoba looks like a bride. As is her wont, she sports her long, dangling hair in plaits and binds its end with tassels. Strands of jasmine flowers fastened to the upper part of the plaits near her nape make the air balmy. But the rupee size Bindi she is sporting in her forehead tells a different story as it unmistakably confirms that she is married. Now, Keshav also comes out of the house, tickles Shoba’s hip. She laughs aloud and then blushes.


“Shoba is more practical and down to earth girl,” Naran hears her mother telling the woman sitting by her side. “When she saw Naran’s shattered body on the railway track, she cried her head off. It took me two years to convince her to marry Keshav. I told her that Naran always thought of her as part of his family and she would be honoring his wish if only she married Keshav. With much reluctance, she married my younger son. She is now happy, has forgotten Naran’s love as a bad dream. God bless the couple.”

Naran’s soul screams. He feels as if he gets a train run over his rented body again. He also feels that he is bleeding in his chest. ‘Betrayal… a great betrayal’ he moans. He fights back an impulsiveness to go and strangulate Shoba. Disappointed and distressed by the bizarre scene he saw in his home, Naran moves away from the place in quick patter without even looking at Shoba or bothering about the tears that wells up in his eyes.

He is now far away from his village and treacherous home. The place he is now standing at seems to be the village forest as he cannot see any human habitats out there. Still not able to stomach the betrayal perpetrated on him by Shoba and his family, he yells, stomps his feet on the ground and calls out King Yama.]

Naran
King Yama! Yamaraj! Do you hear me?
[Before long, Naran sees a ball of fire rolling down from the sky, and King Yama jumps out of it riding a water buffalo.]

King Yama
Why, Naran? Why did you call me?

Naran
Oh, King! My swan has become a crow. I lost my love, my Shoba. She married my brother Keshav. Both of them betrayed me. Who said love is divine?

King Yama
None, but you. Love can never be divine, Naran.  It’s an ugly duck. You dress it up with your blind emotions and imaginations and make it look like a dancing peacock. Oh, you… a poor star-crossed lover! Don’t you know that love has no shape or soul as it’s nothing but your alter ego filled with raw passions? We now have your Shakespeare in our midst. We brought him from his Stratford home centuries back. I often hear the playwright talking about love with a scorn. He says: “Love is not a tender thing. It is too rough, too rude, and too boisterous and it pricks like thorn.”

Naran
Oh, King! Stop preaching me about love. Tell me, why did Shoba abandon me and marry my brother?

King Yama
That’s not her fault, its cruel play of fate. You are dead for three years. Do you still want her to remain hooked to your memories? Women marry men not memories. Don’t you men remarry after the death of your wives?

Naran
Enough, King…. enough of the goddamned love. I now learn that love is falsehood-personified. Take me back to your Kingdom. I don’t want to live here as the earth is littered with betrayers and chameleons.

King Yama
No, Naran. I can’t do that. As I said earlier, an option once selected cannot be reversed.

Naran
[Sobs] Then, what you want me to do?

King Yama
 Be on the earth for sometime and teach people about the futility of love; tell them that love is not be-all and end-all of life.

Naran
Sometime on earth!!! How long, King?

King Yama
Fourteen years.

Naran
 Fourteen years!!! [He faints, and King Yama disappears from the scene]

[Concluded]

P.S. [Benvolio, the kinsman of Romeo’s family in Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet is the invisible hero of this short, amateur play, which reflects his uncharitable and unpalatable remarks against love. While Benevolian remarks against love find space here in this play, I don’t subscribe to his views. To me, love is universal; the mellifluous song of the soul.]

Image courtesy: Google

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Is Love a Swan or Crow? - Part I



Naran
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Where am I? And where is my Shoba? I don’t feel the earth here. The aroma that wafts through this goddamned place is good to smell, but not what I’m accustomed to. I don’t see my Shoba around here. Where are you, Shoba? Oh… this bloody, cavern-like place, it has no sky above. Shoba, don’t get alarmed on my missing. I don’t know where I am? I would soon come and hug you, my love.

[Naran now hears footsteps. Suddenly, a man with a king’s fatigue appears before him from nowhere. Twirling his larger than life mustache, he walks over to Naran, followed by a diminutive figure, which, to Naran’s surprise, wears window blinds for a dress.]

Naran
Are you cine artists? Is any film shooting going around here? [Giggles]. With all your king’s fatigues, you only look like a court jester. [Naran points his finger at the big mustached man and laughs again]

King
Oh, cut that joke, Naran. Don’t you know whom you are talking to? This is my Kingdom and I’m the King here.

Naran
Ha…ha [he laughs again]. A king without people; a kingdom like a cavern.

King
I say stop laughing, Naran. [He growls and twirls his mustache again.]

Naran
 Cool, jester, cool! Tell me, why you kidnapped me from my habitat, from my Shoba whom I’m going to marry soon. You say that you are a king. Don’t you know it is unbecoming of a king to separate lovers?

King
Love! What’s it? I’m sorry I don’t understand the language of earthworms. By the way, do you and your Shoba love each other so deeply… so blindly? Is yours a divine love?

Naran
 Yeah. We love each other head over heels. She has been my neighbor long. And we have grown to together love each other. Even the wind that blows through our village always carries the smell of our love. When Shoba’s father refused to buy our love, you know what Shoba did. The poor girl cut her wrist and tried to kill herself that way. Seeing her daughter in a pool of blood, Shoba’s father agreed to our marriage. We have only a few days for our wedding. But, before that, you wretch, you kidnapped me all of a sudden and stopped my marriage … my fulfillment of love.

King
So, you mean to say that your love is so deep that you would both die if you are separated.

Naran
Yes, of course. For, my Shoba loves every particle of my body and soul. She loves my looks, smiles, the way I speak, and even every strand of my hair. My sudden disappearance from home may rattle her, and she may even commit suicide.

King
Naran, don’t you have a brother. Do you love him as much as you love Shoba?

Naran
Yes, very much. My brother and I are like two bodies, but one soul. We are like the legendary Ram and Lakshman. I love him as much as I love my Shoba. He too, loves me and respects my words. When Shoba’s father spoke ill of me after smelling our love, my brother got snarled and attempted to stab him with a knife. My brother would do anything for me. Both Shoba and my brother are like my eyes. We were a close knitted family and what made you throw bombs at our shelter? Did you kidnap me for a ransom? If so, you won’t get even a clump of cow dung from us. For, we live in a wretched village and all we have is four goats and three cows.

King:
Cut that crap, Naran. We brought you here because your time on earth was over.

Naran:
Time over??? What you mean?

King
 Don’t you know that you are dead already?

Naran
Dead!!! Are you blabbering?

King
No, Naran. I’m telling you the truth. For, I’m the King Yama. He is Chitragupta, my Minister. You are in my Kingdom. As ordained by Lord Brahma, I bring death to those creatures whose life- time on earth is over. So, I’m the executioner of Lord Brahma’s will.

Naran
Oh, god! How could you have killed me when I was in the pink of health and my body was like cast-iron?

King
We pushed you into a railway track close to your house and had a train run over you.

Naran
Oh, King, what you have done to me is unethical and unpardonable. You didn’t uphold ‘Dharma’ in my case. Yuck… you’ve mercilessly killed a promising young boy and widowed a young girl.

[An eerie silence wraps King Yama’s palace as Naran stand speechless, shedding tears.}

Naran
[Still sobbing] When did you kill me?

King
 Three years back.

Naran
Three years… I don’t feel the time here.

King
 That’s because we don’t have a clock here. Time stands still in my abode.

Naran
Three years! That’s a long time for Shoba. She must have been dead by now. She   must be somewhere here.


[Naran becomes dazed, starts sobbing endlessly. He constantly calls out the name of Shoba and his lips turn dry, voice hoarse. King Yama gets greatly moved by the plight of Naran. Reading his master’s mind, Chitragupta whispers something into the King’s ears.]

King
O.K. Naran, your honest and sincere love for Shoba and your brother greatly moves me, and I feel a sort of guilt as if I have done something wrong. So, I decide to show some mercy on you. I will give you two options and you will have to select one. In any circumstances you cannot change the option you have already chosen. Your option is not the Indian Constitution to be amended just like that. Okay.

Naran
Tell me, king, I will obey your will. What I want is my Shoba. I beseech you to take me to my love.

King
The first option is that you could visit your family not in your old self, but in disguise. For you are already dead and your people have cremated your body. Instead, Chitragupta will lend you a body to your soul. After reaching home, if you decide to have your own self, call Chitragupta, and he would rewind the time machine … the time machine of the earth so that everything happened to you would get reversed including your death. The other option we give you is to stay here and work in my palace until you get your placement either in hell or heaven. [Laughs]

Naran
Thank you, King. I would like to go away from this place and join my Shoba.

King
That means you choose the first option. Best of luck, Naran. Chitragupta will help you reach your home safely.

[To be continued]

Image courtesy- Google







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