To what end do these moths, which do an appearing act at the end of a shower infused with life by street lights and CFLs, bulbs and tubes, live when they are destined to die within a span of few minutes? What is the purpose of their lives, I asked sniggering at the constrained nature of knowledge. And in the same breath of thought, this comes to me: are they (moths) better than the humans who have to live every day on the margins?

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“If I were a Devadasi.”

It is time to get transported into one of the most fascinating milieus and yet another brood of the notorious caste system – the Devadasis. We could have easily been talking about the age of romanticism where women dedicated themselves to deities and temples. As resonates through The Ivory Throne : “their lives committed in service of god, dancing and singing and preserving high culture in great Hindu temples of the land.” To add to the romance, imagine a vivid picture of the great shrine of Mahakala in Ujjain, which resounded with the sound of the ankle bells of dancing girls: The Meghadutam by Kalidasa.

There are times when while looking at a painting one is seduced into a different time and era. I often picture my silhouette in Kolkata of the 30s : a swarm of people moving at the speed of light, sometimes even passing through my silhouette yet the silhouette is held by the spirit of the times as if the latter were a painting. Let us float into the age of romanticism and call my perchance finding of ‘The Ivory Throne, Chronicles of the House of Travancore,’ a book by Manu S. Pillai, serendipity.

I like to look at a book as though it was formed like the universe (with all the conjectures) and grew and nurtured on the world around it. However, a book is incumbent to live up to this perspective.

Grapes of Wrath is such a book. It starts from the dust bowl Oklahoma and moves to California, tracing the trajectory of becoming and unbecoming of migrants, a family seen from close quarters by the author and the graph it scales. While it is the essential storyline of the book, Grapes of Wrath has been able to capture life as it is. I can conclude the book with this imagery: concentric circles, where, in the outermost circle lies nature, in the middle is the Manself (a word coined by the author to denote man and his desires) and within their lap lie the Joads (the family).