Sunday, June 7, 2015

Some thoughts on Renu's Mare Gaye Gulfam

First a brief summary of what happens in the story:

At the beginning of the story Hiraman, an ox-cart driver, picks up a mysterious lady passenger and starts to feel that something unusual is afoot because he hasn't ever had this experience before. We also come to know of his past experiences as the ox-cart driver, specially his two vows - never to transport smuggled goods or bamboo! As the story progresses we come to know that the lady passenger's name is Hirabai and she is the lead dancer of a nautanki company. She is actually headed to a local fair where she will perform in the show for the company. During the journey Hiraman tells her the tragic story of "mahua ghatwarin." The subtext of all this is that Hiraman slowly starts getting infatuated with her which actually results in some amusing and dramatic scenes when she actually reaches the fair and starts performing in the show as his infatuated sense of her image clashes with the reality of her image that other people have of her. Finally in the end, his heart is broken when she leaves by train for the next show. He swears the third vow never to take a dancer as a passenger.

Things I love about the story:

I absolutely love the initial section of the story where Renu brilliantly uses the technique of free indirect style to get inside the consciousness of Hiraman and shows what is going on inside him as he tries to make sense of his own emotional reactions to his passenger. The genius of Renu lies in showing that even though Hiraman is illiterate - he may not know any highfalutin metaphors; he may not know any standard romantic idioms, he may even lack a sense of self-awareness - but his inner life is still complex and interesting. He has his own metaphors, his own symbols (culled from the local folk traditions) with which he makes sense of his experiences and gives a shape to them. This may look different from a conventional love story but the underlying romantic sensibility is the same and it is so because this romantic sensibility is an essential characteristic of human life. An illiterate ox-cart driver working in some godforsaken isolated land can also have a heart which aches! He also has his own means to make sense of (if not express) this heartache. This is the true genius of the story.

1 comment:

  1. The sense of socialism that is seated deep into Renu's roots comes overtly in all his stories. The down-trodden, illiterate cart-puller Hiraman can actually have a life of his own and actually may have some feelings must be an alien idea in the times when this story was written.
    Renu himself came from a well-to-do family in the then Purnea district but the socialism was there in his core and he strived for the cause of it throughout his life. A role model indeed!