wrestling to destruction

chaitra bose

The wrestlers, the band of dwarfs, the masked singers, the jeep circling the village, the dead telephone and the sensuous Uttara, all join the train of metaphors in Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Uttara. Dasgupta tries to assimilate all these metaphors to outline the picture of present day India swirling in great troubles.

Balaram and Nimai, two railway guards find pleasure in friendly wrestling in their free time, or should I say they attend duty in their free time and engage in wrestling full time. When Balaram marries and brings Uttara to his house, the relation between the two wrestlers takes a new turn. The friendly wrestling turns out to be a serious one. The intensity of jealousy turns them so blind that they never notice the unpleasant happenings around them, they never react towards them.

The sensuous and intelligent Uttara's presence, as Balaram's wife, trigger the feeling of jealousy in Nimai and the friendly relationship between them turns out to be that of hatred. Their reaction to the three goons in the jeep during their friendly days shows that they were sensitive towards the happenings in the society. But during the days of hatred they turn blind towards all that happens around them and completely concentrate in their wrestling filled with hatred. This makes Uttara say "if I didn't had a feminine body..". Uttara accepts the offer of the dwarf railway guard and tries to run away with him to the village of dwarfs after throwing away her ornaments, which acted as chains of femininity that prevented her from pronouncing her own freedom. The goons in the jeep attack and kill them symbolising the death of innocence and virtue by the hands of hatred.

The band of dwarfs in Uttara represents an idealist parallel world where only the size of the hearts does matter but not the size of their body. They even dream about a world where all the people become dwarfs and live happily and peacefully.

Mathew, the boy who lives with the pastor represents a very large population in India, who have lost their cultural identity by converting themselves to an alien culture for material benefits. Mathew's interest in the masked singers shows the deep-rooted longing for one's own culture, which cannot be changed by re-naming oneself or by baptising to a new religion. The interest of the old men in the food served by the pastor rather than the religious speech offered by him in the church makes clear how surface level these conversions are. But when this small mistake by the pastor is countered by a big crime by the goons in the jeep, by charring the pastor to death, things take a different dimension.

When the goons in the jeep complete their mission at the village and move to a different destination, the gang of old men are shown walking through the same road towards their destination, America, their dream land, where they can reach "by taking an electric train and by crossing the sea". This completes the disastrous picture of the contradiction that is India.

¦ Home  ¦ Mail ¦