Aug 24, 2010
10. Devotion de Deux
At that moment, Amit was sitting on a pile of newspapers spread on the soaking wet stool. On the table, his creations flourished on foolscap paper. At that instant he had started out on his famed autobiography. When asked for a reason, he says that right then his own life had been revealed to him in many splendored hue, like the Shillong mountains on the morrow of rains. That day he discovered the value of his existence, how could he eschew expressing the same? Amit says biographies are written after death because while on one hand a person ceases to live, on the other he becomes intimately alive in the consciousness of men. Amit’s explanation is thus. When he reached Shillong, his past had passed away like a mirage from his essence, while on the other hand he had become emphatically extant, the bright image of light appearing over the darkness of the background. It was imperative to chronicle the tidings of this appearance. Since such resurrection is rare in the lives of men, they spend the period from birth to death in some shadow of the evening, like bats dwelling in a cave.
There was a lighter drizzle, the stormy winds had stalled, the clouds were sparser.
Amit jumped up from his stool and exclaimed, “This is unjust, Aunt.”
“Why son, what have I done?”
“I am absolutely unprepared. What will Lady Lavanya think?”
“It is but necessary to make Lady Lavanya think. What there is to know, known should it be in full. Why this apprehension from Lord Amit?”
“It is enough for the ladyship to peer at the treasures of the Peer. For the peerless paucity to be known, I do have you, my Aunt.”
“Why such discrimination, dear child?”
“For selfish goals. With riches one begets riches, and with wants are obtained blessings. In human civilisation, Lady Lavanyas have risen riches, while the aunts have supplied the blessings.”
“The goddess and the aunt can be realised simultaneously Amit, without having to conceal the wants.”
“That has to be answered in the words of the poet. What I say in prose needs the helping hand of poetry for the sake of clarity. Mathew Arnold says that poetry is the criticism of life. I want to correct it, saying that it is life’s commentary in verse. Let me intimate my visitors beforehand, whatever I read now is not by some poet laureate.
With the fullness of soul
What is to desire
To ask – do not with
Empty hands appear
Stand not at that door
With eyes full of tear
Think about it. Love is what is the fulfilment of the soul. The desire for it is not the destitution of the beggar. When the almighty loves the devotee, He comes to beg at his door in the guise of the mendicant.
Once you bring
The wedding ring
Would you lay bed
For goddess to stay
On the dust filled roads
Along the way?
That is exactly why in recent past I asked the deity to carefully consider before treading inside. There is nothing to spread, so how do I drape her seat? With these wet newspapers? I dread editorial ink these days. The poet says, I call my fellow man when the cup of life spilleth over – not for him to share my thirst.
In the woods of spring
Countless flowers appear
In sweet embrace will
Wrap the one ever dear
When in the darkness
Thousand lamps glow afire
In the lap of the aunts is the first penance of man, the devotion of the monk. This austere setting is exactly for that. I have made up my mind to name it The Materteral Bungalow.”
“My son, the second penance of life is for prosperity, a quest of love with the goddess seated on the left. Even in this cottage, that penance of yours will not be covered beneath the piles of paper. Are you consoling yourself at not having been blessed with the boon you coveted? In your heart I am sure you know you have been blessed.”
Saying this, she stood Lavanya next to Amit and placed their right hands over each other. Taking the golden chain from Lavanya’s neck, she tied their hands together and said, “May everlasting be your union.”
Amit and Lavanya bowed down to touch Yogamaya’s feet for her blessings. She said, “Wait a while, the two of you, let me get some flowers from the garden.”
She drove off to get the flowers. For a long while the two sat in silence beside each other on the cot. At some instant looking at Amit, Lavanya said softly, “Why did you not go today?”
Amit answered, “The reason is so mundane that one needs nerve to speak of it on this auspicious day. Nowhere is it documented in history that the lover postponed his venture to meet the beloved for the want of a raincoat. On the contrary, we find chronicles of his swimming across boundless oceans. But, that is the saga of the heart, and believe me I am swimming there too. Will we ever cross over to that distant shore?
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
Bonya, had you been lying in wait for me today?”
“Yes Mita, I heard your footsteps the whole day long in the pitter patter of the rain. It felt as if you were coming from somewhere impossibly afar. In the end you did come into my life.”
“Bonya, in the midst of my life till now there was a black-hole of not knowing you. That part of my being was the most hideous. Today it is filled to the brim. Light shimmers on its surface, the sky gazes at itself in it – it has become the most fulfilling portion. Hear me talk incessantly, it is the sound of the waves gushing from the fulfilled lagoon of life, how can it be stopped?”
“Mita, what did you do the whole day?”
“In the centre of my soul were you, silent and still. I was trying to tell you something, but where were the words? Rain was cascading from heaven and I kept saying – give me words, give me words.
O, what is this?
Mysterious and uncapturable bliss
That I have known, yet seems to be
Simple as breath and easy as a smile,
And older than the earth.
That’s what I do sitting at home. Make the words of others my own. If I could lend tune to the words, I would compose Vidyapati’s song of rain and usurp it as my own.
Vidyapati kahe, Kaise gongayabi
Hari bine din ratiya.
The one who cannot be lived without, how can I pass my days without her? How can I find the music for these words? I look up and sometimes ask for words and sometimes for tune. With words and tunes sometime the divine does descend, but along the way makes the wrong choice of the person – for no reason blesses someone else with it. For instance your Robi Thakur.”
Lavanya laughed and said, “Even those who love Robi Thakur do not recall him as often as you do.”
“Bonya, am I talking too much today? Monsoon has descended on my loquaciousness. If you read the weather report, you’ll find no limit to the inches of insanity. If I was still in Calcutta, I would drive with you all the way to Moradabad, bursting tires all the way. If you ask me why Moradabad, I have no answer. When the deluge arrives, it gurgles, rushes and laughs time into effervescent bubbles and washes it away.”
At this moment, Yogamaya came in bearing a basket full of sunflowers. She said, “Lavanya dear, you may touch his feet with these flowers.”
It was nothing more than an feminine attempt to manifest the circumstances of the soul into the material world. It is in their flesh and blood to create in the physical world.
Today, at some other moment, Amit whispered into Lavanya’s ears, “Bonya, I want to put a ring on your finger.”
Lavanya asked, “What is the need Mita?”
“You have given me your hand and I cannot fathom how great a gift it is to me. The poets have been singing ballads to the face of the beloved. But in a hand embodies so many gestures of life. The caresses of love, the care of the heart, the warmth of the soul, the indescribable language, all lies in the hand. The ring will embrace your finger like a little word from me. The word is just that, ‘I have’. Why not let this word remain in your hand in the language of gold and jewels.”
Lavanya said, “Alright, so be it.”
“I will send for it from Kolkata. Let me know which stone you prefer.”
“I do not want any precious stone. Just a solitary pearl will do”
“That’s great. I too love pearls.”