In Viking legends, Odin, the Shaman God of Wisdom, was accompanied by two ravens-Thought and Memory.
How appropriate, I think, as I close Aarachar, Meera’s brilliant book. ( HangWoman- K.R.Meera, available in English translation)
As Chetna GriddhaMallick, the first official HangWoman ( yes, except a fiery lady anscestor) walks alongside with the reader, through 552 pages of haunting story space, her thoughts intersperse with her memories seamlessly. Those symbolic Ravens had narrated stories , one after another.There was love , lust, betrayal, horror, history, crime, fury, and others of that hue. Even at the last page, as she smilingly walked away to the ingeniously named workplace, which combined future and consequence together, she remained an enigma. The fact that she had left her love behind, literally gasping for breath, added to the final effect.
When I had reached half way, I had found resonance of many of Chetna’s strengths in Dr.Estes’s Wild Woman explanations. I found more as I finished.
” The tale is probably a fragment of a much larger and ancient death and resurrection story centering around a female God head…it tells us something about the nature of secrets and even perhaps,what is killed off in the psyche when a woman’s life is not properly valued. She represents a Kore-the woman-who-will-not-marry aspect of the female psyche.The part of the woman that wants to keep to herself alone, is mystical and solitary in a good way, and is taken up with the sorting and weaving of ideas, thoughts, and endeavours…
Remember canto hondo, the deep song and hambre del alma, the starved soul? In time, these two forces, through dreams and the woman’s own wild life force, rise to the surface of the psyche and break out the necessary cry, the cry that frees. A woman finds her voice then. She sings out, cries out the secret, and is heard. Her psychic footing will be restored.” ( Chapter-Battle Scars: Membership in the Scar Clan, Women who run with the wolves)
Time for some student to dig into Mythical studies, and do a doctorate on this novel. It is such a satisfying read- intellectually, spiritually and from an arm chair traveller’s perspective. Through centuries past, histories past, women and men and religions past…to certain home truths that never change. Simply wonderful.
I was gifted a Sriramcharit Manas , written by Sri Goswami Tulsidasji by a dear friend. Going through the introduction, I was struck by how certain stories of great men and the women who inspire them, resonate same across regions.
Tulsidasji had got married to a lovely woman and had been besotted with her. Once she went to her home and Tulsidasji followed her quietly. His wife laughed at him, ” The fascination that you have for my mortal body- if only you had but half of that concentration on the Lord, your boat of life would have crossed over safely by now!”
Tulsidasji was struck by her words, and leaving behind his Garhasthya forever, went to Prayag.
We grew up reading Aithihya Mala by Kottarathil Sankunny that narrated many legends and myths of Kerala. In a Folk Story collection from my land , ( Keraliya Nadody Kathakal, Alangode Lilakrishnan) comes a story on ” Taikkattu Yogiyar” – a saint whose past had a similar background. The young man gets addicted to a lovely woman, and one day had to face a river before he could reach her. There was no boat around, and so using a bamboo stick, he crosses on what looks like a boat. It was a floating dead body in reality. By the time he reached the shore, he was drenched and shocked. But he still wanted to reach her side. He sees a rope hanging over the closed walls, within which her house was situated. He crossed over, only the rope was a dead snake entangled over the walls. The woman who heard his heroic tale of reaching her, laughed with slight contempt.
” Shame indeed! You have embraced two dead bodies to reach my living body. Has the Truth disappeared from your vision?”
He saw the truth then and left forever Garhastya , in search of the Ultimate.
So many myths, so many truth seekers, so many guides who show the way.
To spent some time daily, in the company of those great minds, is so necessary in our own journeys.