Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Confusion about one's TRUE identity can be frustrating at times. Specially if you are forced to defend the identifying factors (irrespective of their proportion) and sometimes make a choice at the cost of the others.

I am referring to my roots. Hailing from Palghat, speaking Tamil at home and staying in Bangalore for 20 years should be an advantage in my opinion. But at certain times, the devil raises his/her head and plants the question, "Where do you belong?" At other times like say, when the membership of the different language sanghas in IIT Delhi is concerned, the question that arises is "Which sangha do I become a member of?" Obviously, becoming a member in all the different sanghas (I am referring to the Kerala Sangham, Tamil Mandram and the Kannada Sangha, which for some strange reason was christened Aravali Kannada Sangha.) was not feasible keeping the wallet factor in mind. (all these sanghas charged approximately Rs. 100-150 per year, a princeley amount for a student). Hence, one had to choose. My reason to join the Tamil Mandram was due to the fact that most of the guys living in my wing were Tamils and i had met all of them and even had a nice jolly friendship with most of them. In contrast, I hardly knew any one who spoke kannada on campus. The kannada sangha hardly promoted its activities (if they had them) and when I did get to know a few Kannada guys, it was too late!! I had already committed my cash.

Thus, it was with a feeling of guilt at having betrayed kannada that i went to the book exhibition at pragati maidan in delhi in january this year. The english section was given my best effort and I ended up purchasing Foucault's Pendulum and The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes. I then decided that i had to purchase a kannada book. if I were to lie, I wanted to purchase a Kannada book because i had interest in kannada literature. On the contrary...the feeling of betrayal was gnawing inside me and plus, I wanted to show off in the hostel. Accordingly I went ahead and purchased a few plays by Girish Karnad.

As Jan went into Feb, Feb into March, then April, May and even June and July, I found that i had covered only Foucault's pendulum...I then put my hand inside my bag and extracted the first book that I found, and it turned out to be "Bimba Mattu Itara Natakagalu" (Bimba and Other Plays) by Girish Karnad and Mahesh Elakuncharvar.

The first play in this collection is Bimba meaning reflection. It is a title that refers to the reflections of the protagonist Manjula Naik a renowned Kannada writer. The play opens in a setting where she is providing an introduction to the serialization of her latest work, which is surprisingly in English and very well written. It is about a beautiful talented woman who is paralysed waist down, is extremely talented and is very nice by nature.

Once the introduction is done and manjula is about to leave the studio, something strange happens and her image appears on screen and then begins the best introspective investigative piece of writing that I have read till now. manjula's image is her conscience which probes her logically and peels her layer by layer, exposing her frailties, her hatred and jealousy for her sister and finally makes her admit something (I will not spoil the thrill) which one would least have expected.

More than anything, I am of course impressed by the language used, but also appalled at the fact that I have missed out so much in the only southern regional language that i am literate in. During course of reading the play, there were a few sentences that i feel will hit you instantly. I am reproducing them below:

1. "Naanu..andare neenu.." {Me....implies its you..} --> this reminds me of a poem called Me kidnaps me or something to that effect authored by Nitin Kashmikandy in NITK.
2. 'aake tonkadinda kelagina bhagadalli nirjeevavagiddalu. paralysed. daihika sambanda sadhyave iralilla" {She was paralysed waist down. There was no chance of her having sex}

3. "Ee sala, nanage ondu maatra anukoola ittu. Aake sattu hogiddalu. Naanu badukidde" {I had only one advantage. She was dead, I was alive}
4. "naanu english lekhaki malini naik. nanna akka, suprasiddha kannada kategarthi manjula naik nanna kadambariyannu odidodane naashavagi hogi naanagi hosa avatara talidalu. She has morphed into me." {I am the english author malini naik. my elder sister, the famous kannada novelist has disintegrated and assumed a new form after reading my novel. She has morphed into me}

And the final punchline, of which I provide only the translation:

...Meaning, I have to continue my life only as Manjula Naik. After all, my passport, bank accounts, property and financial papers are all in that name. But, to tell you the truth, I am malini naik - my brilliant sister, the one who loved and made love to my husband, the one who did not know kannada, the one who authored the English bestseller............
Bimba..somebody please enact this, and invite me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sharath Rao said...

LOL ! Good idea..good for her, bad for me ..

hey she is in bombay..why dont u meet her - 9820016849 is her no.

Anonymous said...

tell CPC ....this soundz like his kinda book ?!!