As a kid I have read several versions of the fairy tale dealing with the two queens of a king: the selfish materialistic queen Suyorani and the humble,caring, non-complaining queen Duorani. The standard fairy tale version narrates the story of how the selfish queen ousts the humble queen from the palace and tries to keep her away, and how finally the worth of the banished Duorani is realised and she is brought back to the palace. Rabindranth Tagore's take on that fairy tale in his book of poetic prose Lipica deals with the story from a slightly different perspective. Tagore's tale is about the unhappiness that Suorani encounters in the palace of comforts. As I sit and read and attempt to translate Tagore's take of the fairy tale, I am drenched by waves of thoughts from different seas of ideas.
|Duorani or Shuorani?|
Fairy tales charm the mind of the young and the old by virtue of telling a tale that has been told forever. We, the listeners, know for sure, that the evil will be defeated by the good by the end of the fairy tale. The allegory of the power of good that prevails over the power of evil has been narrated in various ways across the globe. And all such conventional fairy tales categorise everything in terms of binaries. Each and every character is either good or bad. There is no trait of one in the other. The lines that demarcate each are distinct. The structure of the allegory aims to teach; and the basic requisite of teaching is to demarcate and differentiate. This brings me to the thought-sea that churns questions like : Can everything be identified as either black OR white? If so, then where does the colour grey come from? Where is that space where BOTH black AND white exist? The waves of this sea leave me in the sands of words created by Tagore in Lipica.
The treacherous Suorani who had left no stone unturned to push the existence of Duorani to the brink of the kingdom of the king's heart, weeps with sadness in Tagore's take on the standardised fairy tale of Duorani-Suorani. In Lipica, his book of poetic prose, his version of the fairy tale is titled "Suoranir sadh" (Suorani's desire). Unlike all the desires that Suorani had in the wide-spread fairy tale, the desires that she experiences are non-materialistic. She does not desire fine clothes, precious jewellery or such stuff that can be quantified in terms of money. She desires simplicity of being, she desires the dignified calm of simple living, the joy and the warmth of the hearth. She desires the sorrow of Duorani...
|Duoranir dukkho ami chai ...|
"oi duoranir dukkho ami chai ....or oi ba(n)sher ba(n)shite sur bajlo,kintu amar sonar ba(n)shi kebol boyei beRalem, agle beRalem, bajate parlem na."
I long for the suffering of Duorani .... her reed can create such music, but my golden flute I vainly carried along, guarding it and alas never being able to create music from it.
Image with caption "Duorani or Shuorani?" : Woman's face by Rabindranath Tagore, Ink on paper, n.d.
Image with caption "Duoranir dukkho ami chai..." : Lady with flowers by Rabindranath Tagore, Watercolour on paper, dated 28/9/37.
Images taken from the web.