Archive for May, 2007

It Does Not Die

Posted in Autobiography, Historical/Biographical, India / Indian on May 27, 2007 by Ishrath Farhana

This one was recommended to me by an old flame – recently catching up after a decade, almost, and surprising each other with how we have moved on, moved away, had children and settled into domesticity.

The protagonists are two real life scholars and famous figures in their own spheres. Orientalist Mircea Eliade comes to study with Dr. Narendra Sen, he falls in love with his beautiful daughter and poet, Maitreyi. When the family gets wind of their blossoming feelings for each other, they send him away in short shrift. Mircea pines and leaves for his native Romania, where he writes Bengal Nights, immediately popular and bringing to him wealth and fame. For 40 long years, the erotic fantasy, charged with overtones of racial prejudice and a secure sense of imperialism, it was the only version of their story that was available.

Forty years later, Maitreyi comes across this colonial fantasy of the inscrutable India encountered within the prepubescent female, and sets the record straight with a candid examination of her 16 year old self who was overcome with ardor for the young Eliade. With great moral integrity, she talks of their relationship, which lasted a few months. She is incensed with the libelious use of her name in Mircea’s book, and appeals for truth and honesty, and refutes that their love was culminated. As a grandmother of 54, puts the episode in its perspective.

Ginu Kamanni’s detailed and passionate piece A Terrible Hurt is a must read for a finer appreciation of the characters’ milieu and why Maitreyi Devi’s Na Hanyate transcends the label A Romance. Life carries us on, and away. Curcumstances change, take turns, but relationships hold value. What one is together, lives on, it does not die.