“Mircea Mircea Mircea – i have told my mother that you have only kissed me on my forehead.”

Posted: March 31, 2015 in Bengali, Community, life, Relationships
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“Mircea Mircea Mircea – i have told my mother that you have only kissed me on my forehead.”

Those who read Bengali novels are well known with that famous iconic line from the famous book “Na Hanyate” by Late Maitrayee Debi, later who was honoured with Sahitya Academy, the highest honour for contribution in Indian Literature. No, i am not going to write anything about the great Maitrayee Debi, even except a very few literatures, i don’t even know much about her. Whatever i know about her, is simply ‘Na Hanyate”. First time i read it when i was in class eight. My dad gave me that book and said, “Barely you will understand but try to read it once. If you can read it once, i am sure, in future you will read it time and again” and yes dad, after that it’s been seventeen years, i read the same book, same sets of words more than hundred times and still whenever i feel like writing on something to anything, “Na Hanyate” guides me, teaches me and then again unknowingly forces me to read it one more time.

Actually Na Hanyate was written in the year 1974 in response to another novel La Nuit Bengali. La Nuit Bengali was written by a well-known Romanian Philosopher Mircea Eliade in the year 1933. It was several years before Maitrayee Debi discovered it, read it, broke in to tears and finally thought of writing a reply. She completed writing a whole novel in a very few sittings with mental agony, refurbished love and named it “Na Hanyate”. The neame Na Hanyate means “which cant be destroyed”. Its a sloka from Shri MadBhagwat Gita where Shri Krishna, in reply to Arjuna told

“Na Jayate Mriyate va Kadachin

Nayam Bhutva Bhavita van a Bhuyah

Ajo Nityah sasvato ‘yam purano

Na Hanyate, Hanyamane Sarire”

When Arjuna was confused seeing all his relatives gathered to fight against him except his own brothers, he asked Shri Krishna, “how can i fight and kill those people who are eventually my cousin brothers and sisters, are my uncles and relatives.” He even asked Shri Krishna to excuse him. Shri Krishna, consoled telling him that “whatever happened, happened because of me, whatever is happening, is happening because i have planned this to happen and whatever will happen, will happen according to my script.” He even said more, “when a person dies, he just leave his physical presence but there is another thing known as soul, which cant be born, destroyed or recreated. None can give birth to soul, or kill a soul. People, their existence are eternal and eternal through their souls. Na Hanyate, Hanyamane Sarire.”

After forty years of completely connection less situation, one fine morning the writer found someone came to look for her. Through those visitors, she came to know that her ‘Mircea’ became famous as a philosopher. He even wrote a book titled ‘La Nuit Bengali’- Bengali nights where he has written a lot about sexual nights with a sixteen year Bengali girl, a daughter of eminent social worker and poet, follower of world’s greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore. Maitrayee debi reads the whole book, cried whole night. After almost forty years of that teenage incident, she felt still that flow of love was almost same like before, the only change was that, that forty years made her a lot matured. From that teenage girl, she developed grey hairs in her head and with wrinkles in skin due to aging. She got her daughter in law and then son in law too. After that two year long teenage period of love, which she had to discontinue due to severe social obligations and difference in culture terminated with another set of relationship which constituted of her caring husband and siblings. Whatever sexual relationship Mircea claimed to have with her proved of no use except harming her then present social status where she was an elegant woman who was one of those few lucky people who got the direct blessings of Rabindranath Tagore, who got a good name in poetry among Bengali readers, whose Mangpu Te Rabindranath was acclaimed by all. She still found one connection still alive. Na Hanyate, Hanyamane Sairire. After even forty years of that incident, when she came to know about Mircea, she again stopped thinking of anything else other than him. She tried her best to live happy with her family, relatives but couldn’t forget her teenage love. Just with the name of of Mircea, she felt like everything came alive but there was a catch. She didn’t like whatever description love was depicted by Mircea Eliade. Eliade’s love story was full of sex, though there was a lot love in his version too.

Read the topmost lines, where in every words, it seems like she was trying to hide something from her parents, specifically mother. She wrote, “Mircea Mircea Mircea, i have told my mother that you have only kissed me on my forehead. Lets divide these words using some imaginary punctuation marks and get in to the details of it.

“Mircea Mircea Mircea, I have told my mother that YOU HAVE ONLY kissed me on my forehead”

We may interpret it in a way that she had not any reservation about love and thus love making too but against a rich backdrop of life in an upper-caste Hindu household, Maitrayee Devi powerfully recreates the confusion of an over-educated child simultaneously confronting sex and the differences, not only between European and Indian cultures, but also between her mother’s and father’s view of what was right.

I read the lines in different way too. I read, “Mircea Mircea Mircea, I have told my mother that you have ONLY KISSED on my forehead”. It bears complete different meaning, where Maitrayee Devi is trying to convince her mother that apart from kissing on forehead, no other kind of sexual relationship occurred in between them. Here she behaves like a Bengali lady, bears the eternal insecurity of getting caught by mother. In Bengali society, even in Bengali culture, sexual relationship before marriage is not considered good. That cry is seen in her words, that self defence is prominent in her words, amid a tangle of misunderstandings, between a European man and an Indian girl, between student and teacher, husband and wife, father and daughter, she describes a romance unfolding in the face of cultural differences but finally succumbing to cultural constraints.

My sincere request to all who haven’t read it yet, please read it once and those who read it, please share your experience.

Debraj

31.03.2015

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