Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lost, Times Apart



With rounded breasts concealed by cloth of bark
Fastened at the shoulder in a fine knot
Her youthful form enfolded like a flower
In it`s pale beauty sheath unfolds not it`s glory




"Wow!. Kalidasa`s a genius!", exclaimed Sanjay. His face was bright with excitement as he motioned towards his roommate and friend Jeevan. Jeevan came over and looked at the book and read a few lines.


"No.. not really worthy of praise", he remarked. Sanjay could not hold back a frown. "You know what.? Kalidasa must have been a pretty normal guy. What is more important is that he must have had some really heavenly looking women around him in those times, and thus the inspiration."

"Jeevan it`s not funny..!. I`m amazed, by these verses", replied Sanjay.


"I`m being pretty serious here. Just think about it. If Kalidasa were in our generation, and if we were to take him to one of these malls and show him all those girls in Tee-shirts and Jeans, do you think he will be writing poetry..? He would mostly have been a software engineer rather writing code in C and C++. Haa haa..!". Jeevan was besides himself with laughter. He always had this strange habit of laughing at his own jokes. Even stranger was the fact that he went and looked at the mirror while laughing.


But Sanjay wasn't listening. He looked rather lost in another world of his own. He kept reading those beautiful words and verses, getting transported to a totally different realm.

Her cheeks grow thin; her breast and shoulders fail;
Her waist is weary and her face is pale:
She fades for love; oh, pitifully sweet!
As vine-leaves wither in the scorching heat.



It was sometime before he remarked, "You know what, Jeevan. I think I am in love with Shakuntala.!"


This time, there was no response from Jeevan, because he was already snoring. Sanjay smiled, looking at his friend and went back to reading the book. He didn't even realize that the book fell from his hand and that he himself had fallen deep in sleep.

All was silent as the night moved on over the town, concealing it with it`s cloak of darkness.


*~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~*


It wasn't night actually, though it was pretty dark. The sun was still reluctant to bid goodbye to earth and kept holding it in it`s shiny embrace. But Raja Meghanatha could not feel the pleasure of twilight. The towering trees in the forest over which different vines hung around enclosing it like a protective sheath, the light rays of twilight were cruelly denied permission from entering the ground beneath them.


Hunting had always been an excellent pastime and the king had a great reputation of being an immense power in bringing peace to the forests and the sages, ridding the dark woods of demons and dangerous beasts. However, today he had gone too far in chasing that beautiful gazelle and in time had gone very far away from his retinue of soldiers and attendants.



His tongue was parched and his body trembled with hunger and fatigue. He smiled at the irony of events that a king so powerful as himself who delivered prosperity to thousands of his subjects was today at the mercy of the all-pervading lord for survival.


Suddenly, he heard the sound of small bells. As he struggled and heaved himself onto the nearest tree, he saw that heavenly woman, who dressed in hermit clothes was tenderly plucking flowers. Her every movement so graceful, accompanied with the bells that tinkled on the girdle that adorned her slender waist. The movement so magical that he almost mistook it for an unearthly vision of the great lord`s cosmic dance. Her slender arms and that vibrant, peaceful face glowing with radiance and piety in that otherwise dark jungle evoked complete awe and fascination in his mind.

Her, very presence and gentle touch seemed to awaken the sleepy reclining plants and the trees around with mystic grace. His eyes were transfixed upon her, his mind forgetting to seek help, his body forgetting all fatigue and pain.


The cups of flowers, she has just plucked
Have not as yet sealed themselves
and these tender shoots, broken off
are still moist with their milky sap.
He could only look on as she walked ahead and soon was lost from his sight. He cursed his tongue, which failed to call out. But then, he himself had failed or rather lost himself to that holy woman. Who could he blame.?

His legs failed him, and with great difficulty, he shed himself of his headgear and bow and arrow and crawled and heaved himself in the direction, where the woman had left that prominent trail of footprints, along his path to salvation.



Upon moving himself in that painful and strange way, for what seemed to him, like generations, he finally reached a clearing. There was a thatched hut, with trees all around, with the fragrance of incense and sandalwood welcoming him. He reached up to the entrance of the hut and peered inside. And, there she sat that same woman, he had seen before. She was in meditation and he was dumbfounded again, by the beautiful picture of peace and auspiciousness, she painted upon the natural canvas of her surroundings.


After some time, he gathered himself to call her for help, but his body failed him again, his vision was blurred and in this dizzying state, he fell down unconscious.

*~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~*

.
He felt the warmth of the morning sun, filtering on to his body, and slowly he opened his eyes. It was 10`o clock in the morning. He looked at his cell phone. There were 8 missed calls, five from his office and three from Jeevan. Jeevan, it seemed had already left. Sanjay slowly sat up and tried to stop feeling drowsy.

And then suddenly out of the blue it struck him.! He had gone up to the hermitage, he had seen her, he had felt intense love for that divine woman, he had felt the pain in his body. He remembered falling down. What had happened..? His head started aching as he tried to see that picture again in his mind, in vain.

And then the phone rung. He picked it up. It was Jeevan!.

“Get up Lazy Goose!. I've been getting royal enquiries from your office for quite some time now.. Get up, go to office and ask that teammate of yours, never to call me again.!”, barked Jeevan. He hung up sometime later.

Sanjay slowly went about getting ready, but the thought of that dream or rather experience never left his mind at ease. He folded his bedspread and arranged the pillows, and then his eyes fell on the book. He opened it and read out a verse.


Now that the moon has set, the pool of moon-lotuses
Delights not my eye –
her beauty is but a memory
The grief of women left alone when loved
ones
Travel far are beyond measure hard to bear

He was suddenly grief stricken. So that was it. He had fallen in love, with that women of his dreams. His one love was trapped in another dimension, where he could not reach, and the pain he now felt in his heart was the pain of separation, the pain of longing and the agony of loneliness.

The phone rung again. It was from his office this time. His teammate Vinay almost shouted in to the phone.
"Sanjay, you've got to be here. This release is crucial and we've got to ship it by tonight. Just be here man.!", he pleaded.

Sanjay still had the book in his hand. He kept leafing through the pages, in search of his love, in search of peace of mind, and then he saw those lines.


Required to perform duties in places
Widely separated, I am in two
minds
Like a river that strikes a hill in mid course
And forced back parts
into streams

He realized his dilemma. He was lost in two places, his soul not deriving peace from both. Putting aside the book, he slumped down on the bed, and then he bent down and cried.

The phone started ringing again. It just kept ringing.


Verses taken from translations of Kalidasa`s AbhijnanaShakuntalam by Chandra Rajan - "The Loom of Time", Arthur Ryder.

Pics - Courtesy, Paintings of Raja Ravi Verma.

33 comments:

iamvisheshur said...

beautiful....i always wanted to read kalidasa...infact i am searching for someone who will teach me sanskrit....
raja ravi varma is a master....he is our DA VINCI if you ask me..

Shankari said...

Whoooo!

Lovely


the verses, the story and above all, the Raja's paintings!

'll keep coming back fr more, fr sure. :)

priya said...

Those paintings are just awesome Unni...

Dawn....सेहर said...

cool! Read Kalidasa in school...still feels so fresh!
nicely put up
Cheers

Marthyan said...

kalidasa in todays world :)

Loved reading it

Keshi said...

Lovely calming pic and relaxing write-up...just what I need right now. TY Srijith!

Keshi.

Rose said...

Well.. Shakuntala was Kalidasa's fantastical imagination.. Coz only imagination can be so incredibly perfect.. I do think Jeevan has a point.. ;D

Beautiful verses.. Great pictures.. and an Excellent post Unni.. I was glued to every word!!!!

:)))

..Me

Deepak said...

A stunning narrative. It brought me to imagine myself in the place of the protagonist, and I think that's what makes a good story.

BTW, I disagree with Jeevan. People are not only inspired by their surroundings, but also by their imaginations.

Deepak said...

@Rose: The character Shakuntala was not Kalidasa's imagination. It was Sage Vyasa's. The story appears first in Mahabharata.

priya said...

Unni: These paintings must be of ravi varma right:)

k said...

"Required to perform duties in places
Widely separated, I am in two
minds
Like a river that strikes a hill in mid course
And forced back parts
into streams"

Am planning to use this as my signature.

Story well narrated interspersed with todays world.

Chitra

Hip Grandma said...

Fantastic post.worth the wait.Is that why you dole out your treasures at such a leisurely pace?

L>T said...

I really enjoyed it all, the verse, the pictures, the story & the music on the side...It all went very well, together.

DJ said...

*He would mostly have been a software engineer rather writing code in C and C++.*

funny and true....lol

Srijith Unni said...

@Vishesh: Raja Ravi Varma is truly a maestro, vishesh, someone who could visualize as well as paint.!

@Shankari: Thanks a lot, Shankari.. Nice to know that you liked it..!

@Priya: Yes Priya, aren`t they. they are painted by the Great King and Artist from Kerala Raja Ravi Verma

@Dawn: Always fresh and evergreen, truly..!

@Marthyan: Thanks a lot, Marthyan.!

@Keshi: Pleasure`s mine.. :)

@Rose: Thanks Rose. Shakuntala was a character in Mahabharatha, as Deepak has pointed out. According to the epic, it is Shakuntala`s son Bharatha who becomes the first Emperor of the Solar Dynasty, which later had kings like Dhasharatha, and Lord Sri Rama.! I`m happy to know that you enjoyed the post.!

@Deepak: Thanks a lot for the encouragement, Deepak.! It gives me assurance that i too can write stories. Jeevan`s character symbolises the youth of today in a way, Deepak. People who`s ideas are a lot modern, due to the golbalization wave.

@Chitra: Thanks a lot..! BTW, I dont understand how that verse could serve as a signature. Are you yourself in a dilemma, Chitra..?

@Hip Grandma: HG, when you left the comment on the earlier tag post, that i was not writing, I had already published this post by then. I dont know why you didn`t see it. Hip Grandma, I am not able to write more often, but i have not completely shut down my blog..! Thanks for your words of support and encouragement. I shall always treasure them.

@l>t: It`s so nice to know that you enjoyed the experience completely.!

@DJ: I`m not usually humorous enough in my writing. That way it makes me happy to know that I got you laughing..! Thanks a lot.!

Kakshi said...

Beautiful Paintings..
Amazing Verses..
An a simple innocent touching story..
Great going Srijith!

david santos said...

Thanks for you work, is very good and very nice.
have a good weekend.

Ram said...

Beautiful as always Srijith! Missed being in touch with you too.

How are things?

Shruti said...

its simply beautiful..just love the verses being said here..and can imagine th ebeauty of a women...
simply awasome expression....

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

Marutham said...

WOW :D
How did i miss this post? :)
How are you srijith :) ? I hope the work is keeping you tight from the date of this post..
Hope everything is going smooth..
A lovely post with some AMAZING paintings...
Classic!! :)
Enjoyed reading & as always great !:)

Cheers,
Marutham.

alex said...

Sreejith,

You have been taggged.

The story looks enticing. will read it.

alex said...

Sreejith,

Well delivered. I got the mood of it, i believe. :)

One question which came to my mind is- why are only women associated with such poignance and beauty?? [The artists are usually men]

mathew said...

too good..i was waiting to read this at leisure..cleverly interwined the verse to give that prose touch...

mathew said...

@Alex

i had the same misconception...Most of the famous sculpture are of men like "David" by Michael Angelo..so it aint fare to say that only women were associated with beauty and grace..

alex said...

@Mathew,

Thank you. Will read up on that. What about paintings?

shades of twilight said...

That was simply great..!

Marutham said...

Alo ALo.. :) Missing for long time..
COME BACK :)

Marutham said...

Alo ALo.. :) Missing for long time..
COME BACK :)

Srijith Unni said...

@Kakshi: Thanks Kakshi! Happy to know that you enjoyed the experience

@David: Thanks a lot!. :)

@Ram: Hi Ram, Welcome back..! really nice to see youi..!

@Shruthi: Thanks shruthi.. Have a fun time.. :)

@Biby : Welcome in here, biby..! Thanks a lot for your kind words..!

@Marutham: Yes, i am just settling into a new assignment.. Will soon catch up.. Thanks for that pep comment..!

@Alex: Will do the tag, first, once i get some time, alex..! and about beauty.. the reason simply is that the man admires woman more than vice versa and even if she does, very few women out of them are artists..!

@Mathew: thanks mathew..!:)

@Shades of Twilight: Thanks a lot..! Welcome in here..! :)

Prash said...

hey..
how are u ?
i am back once again. I have stopped to abscond ..

i didn't have enough time to read your article. but i liked very much your pictures (ravi varma's pics are really cool).

Anonymous said...

hi Srijith,

How are you? Well, i have been away and in a midst of some important resposibilitites. Maybe, I come back soon, i miss you all.

I have read this post and could not keep my fingers away from typing a comment here.

The post is simple to understand, for a reader who has read you from the very beginning. I remember one of your post, about a school teacher who remained a bachelor to realise some facts of life. Life ia all about the choices one makes.

I find your poetry which praises Nature more optimistic. Nature is pure , true and hence is JOY.Your prose hits some harsh realities.

Talking of jeans and Tshirts, 90% to 95% shakuntalas are comfortable with them and it would be rather difficult to see Kalidasa's shakuntala is these ages.

Again i think the post is as real as those paintings. The style is simple and creative. The converstaion is for real to which either you have been a passive listener or one of the characters. I would vote for Sanjay.

Though the whole post works in an illusion. You have been able to portray it so well. I found it real.

Reality is the pain of separation, the pain of longing and the agony of loneliness. BUt suffering is optional, pain is inevitable!

Good, excellent piece of art from you. Keep writing.

passerby!

Srijith Unni said...

@Prash: Hey Welcome back, Prash.. Nice to see you..! Yeah Ravi Varma pics have always been cool.

@Passerby: Hope you are able to give all attention to your inportant work, so that you come back fresh and ready to go. Thanks for that long comment, really enjoyed reading your analysis. Am I Sanjay..? Hmm.. perhaps. ! :)
Thanks once again.!