Some evenings ago I reluctantly agreed to watch a dance ballet at Kamani auditorium on the life of Meera Bai, agreeing only because I was vaguely familiar with the subject in focus. The ballet was choreographed with an eclectic mix of both contemporary and Rajasthani folk dance forms, the region to which the tale originally belongs. At the beginning of the performance, I found myself grappling with the renditions in a unfamiliar language in the very familiar voice of Shubha Mudgal. However, as is the case with most art forms, when the performance weaved deeper down to its central story, finding meaning in the words seemed unnecessary, redundant even. Because when you are recounting and enacting the tale of one of the most prominent rebels/lovers in mythology (my favorite only after Sati), intensity is the only language to be spoken, emotion the only words to be understood. And even though I have barely read or researched on the Rajput princess, I only attempt to share it how I saw it.
Young Meera on the realization of her love for Krishna informs her mother of how he is the only befitting groom for her. She grows up soaked in the love of a man/God she has never met, married to him in soul, her faith unwavering while pressures of adult life loom in the vicinity. Krishna is her jewels, and also her salvation. Soon enough Meera has to succumb to marriage in the patriarchal society she lives in because love is a whim rarely entertained among royalty. On the night of her wedding, failing to reconcile her reality with her desires, her soul splits into two- one the wife of Krishna (the young Meera) and other the future wife of a Rana. They dance in unison, making promises to stay together through the demands of life, desire and duty co-existing for the lack of another choice. The ballet then progressed to craft out the rest of her life of surrender, rebellion and later total emancipation from the order of society. The indestructible devotion that catalyzed the inception of numerous renditions speaking of loss and longing.
The ballet left me moved at various moments and triggered a thought that I finally had to put down as a post. In many ways I found Meera of her wedding day resembling so many women around me. The young, naive Meera who almost believed to that point that keeping a desire/love/choice for life was simply a matter of unshaken devotion. Little did she know of the burdens of duty, the demands of ‘reality’, that leave no room or time for desires like of young Meera. Don’t all of us women, at the point of succumbing to a life of duty sometimes split ourselves into the one that was and the one that ought to be? Only rarely letting the former surface in our new lives.
I am still mulling over what exactly stirred me that evening, but I would run the risk of an amorphous thought than never pen it down…:)