King

Tughlaq in the Library – Part I

Review
“Your Majesty, you’re out”,
“Am I?”
[Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay]

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Witnessing the sun rays dancing leisurely, peeking from this-that window, for days and days, it sat in dust amongst others, quaintly steady despite of its love for an extravaganza. Tughlaq – a play by Girish Karnad – captured in a petite white book, first published in 1972, sold at a humble (that now appears to be too little, too funny) price, steadily awaits the reader on the shelf in the library for that one chance.

But why so steady? Are you dead? Were you immured then?

Like a bright star in the darkness, it spreads its light when the reader opens the book first, without any promise – it may guide you, lead you astray or try nothing or try everything that you have cooked up in your head.

But be assured that it will stay with you, always, once you meet Tughlaq; a play in thirteen scenes, thirteen tricks, thirteen faiths, many murders and one Sultan.

Time’s moving, time has changed, many ruled and died, no more Sultans, no more sultanates, what’s in it for you? Has the power game changed too?

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What struck me absolutely about Tughlaq’s history was that it was contemporary. The fact that here was the most idealistic, the most intelligent king ever to come on the throne of Delhi… and one of the greatest failures also. And within a span of twenty years this tremendously capable man had gone to pieces. This seemed to be both due to his idealism as well as the shortcomings within him, such as his impatience, his cruelty, his feeling that he had the only correct answer. And I felt in the early sixties India had also come very far in the same direction – the twenty-year period seemed to me very much a striking parallel.

Introduction, Girish Karnad

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Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq (1290 – 1351) reigned the Delhi Sultanate (from 1325 to 1351) like no other; a visionary famous (less) for his political experiments, innovative ideas, (more for) tyrannical grandiose love for his public, the sultanate and history – he was the public’s beloved mad king.

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Painting depicting the court of Muhammad bin Tughluq. Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad.19th century
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

…I have something to give, something to teach, which may open the eyes of history, but I have to do it within this life. I’ve got to make them listen to me before I lose even that!

Sultan Muhammad, The Fort at Daulatabad, Scene 8

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Who is the Sultan addressing here, if not us?

Ahead of his time, this king spoke directly to his future listeners, galloping towards his ideals, desires and dreams, forgetting behind the world he was tied to, and while he fell several times on this journey, the world tied to him suffered more.

Shifting the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (Maharashtra), he pined to make history in a jiffy, combine past-present-future hurriedly, uplift every life, even the one that was not his own.

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Guard 1: Was it hard, coming from Delhi to here?

Guard 2: I survived. But my family was more fortunate. They all died on the way.

Guard 1 (sympathetically): I am sorry. The arrangements must have been very bad.

Guard 2: Oh no. The merciful Sultan had made perfect arrangements. But do you know, you can love a city like a woman? My old father had lived in Delhi all his life. He died of a broken heart. Then my son Ismail. He was six years old – would have been ten now! The fine dust that hung in the air, fine as silk, it covered him like a silken shroud. After him, his mother.

The Fort at Daulatabad, Scene 8

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You begin with just one image – the mysterious cover design (by Vasudev), a chess-piece-like king wanting to seize it all – which challenges you, but not so much as the dramatic scenes in the play as they convert your imagination into a projector. You visualise as you read, only to find that the king is not where you placed him; he deceives you again.

Sultan’s sins grow faster than his glory and power; and we get a first-hand experience for the playwright makes us sit in the front row.

We witness it all – the king’s game, we take part in it, but what part do we play? Unknowingly, knowingly?

“Both Tughlaq and his enemies initially appear to be idealists; yet, in the pursuit of the ideal, they perpetrate its opposite. The whole play is structured on these opposites: the ideal and the real; the divine aspiration and the deft intrigue. Tughlaq is what he is in spite of his self-knowledge and an intense desire for divine grace.”

Introduction, U. R. Anantha Murthy

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Tughlaq, first published in 1964 in Kannada, received immense success on stage and amongst readers; it was translated into English by Karnad; capturing that era so well, he frees his work from limitations – time changes, but human emotions don’t.

Time, something the Sultan tried to play with, passing sleepless nights as if to overpower it, facing defeats, yet not accepting the fact that his public was not on his side, but Time’s.

For now, let us keep sitting in the front row, the classic play is about to begin –

“Announcer: Attention! Attention! The Warrior in the Path of God, the Defender of the Word of the Prophet, the Friend of the Khalif, the Just, His Merciful Majesty, Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq.”

Scene One, A.D. 1327

Also, read Tughlaq in the Library – Part II.


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Of Monsters and Men and This Journey

Coverage
Of Monsters and Men and This Journey…
[Source – Pixabay]

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A happy piece!
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. – Wikipedia

[Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash]

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For a better experience, listen to the wonderful, magical tracks before reading on –

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Listen to Little Talks here –

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‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore…

Little Talks, Of Monster and Men

And this journey forward that seems uncertain, unforgiving, perilous, and so lonely transforms into a key – a key that unlocks both the Pandora’s box of adversities and the heart’s orchestra.

String, woodwind, brass and percussion music, always on stand-by, ready to win-over the adversities melodiously, has given the heart’s orchestra a good name.

What if the monster charges with an army or is two-headed or many eyed or has tentacles? Hey-hey, hey-ho, the key that unlocks, also locks… it is all up to you and your heart’s orchestra performance.

Psst! Listen, all monsters aren’t evildoers, but they are music lovers for each one has a heart. Good luck!


Listen to King And Lionheart here –

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And as the world comes to an end
I’ll be here to hold your hand
Cause you’re my king and I’m your lionheart

King and Lionheart, Of Monsters and Men

And this journey that seems to have ended with our destruction, our death, and yet alive, we silently stare, scar-faced and overwhelmed, at our sacrifice blooming at the right place, at the right time…

Tired steps befriend the trodden grass… and at last the haunting echoes fail… the Lionheart rises again.


Listen to Dirty Paws here –

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The bees had declared a war
The sky wasn’t big enough for them all
The birds, they got help from below
From dirty paws and the creatures of snow

Dirty Paws, Of Monsters and Men

And in the middle of a war, when you turn around to see and cannot distinguish between the mad faces, you become one with them and fight fiercely until you remember, you too are a creature that breathes.

Breathe, breathe, breathe and continue for that is the call…


Listen to Love Love Love here –

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Oh, ’cause you love, love, love
When you know I can’t love
You love, love, love
When you know I can’t love
You love, love, love
When you know I can’t love you

Love Love Love, Of Monsters and Men

And what hurts the most in this forgotten life of ours… unfulfilled love that can be fulfilled and yet…

When love love love turns you into a piece of Kintsugi pot, smile for now you have been repaired.


Listen to Mountain Sound here –

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Of Monsters and Men is an amazing indie rock band from Iceland. They have a knack for amalgamating folk stories, emotions, joy, pain and the magical into their songs that almost every time matches with the universe’s wavelength.

Listening to their music is like sitting around a bonfire on a bright winter night… and like playing with the breeze in the summers.

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Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

 

And the Warli drama unfolds… thunderous applause… come and watch the puppets dancing, dancing to the tunes of folktales… look at, but beware, the bewitching dance movements will make you happy and take you to the wonderland. And you will dream the original dream. Ohhs and aahs and wows and wahs!
 
Hey puppeteer, where are the strings and where are you hiding? “I am over here”, said the puppeteer and added, “the strings are invisible and so am I, my dear.”
 
But the puppets were ready, the performance had started. Shush! Shush! The tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
“Where is my horse, commander?”, asked the portly King. “Sir, you’re riding it”, gasped the tired commander. The horse neighed and snorted.
 
Meanwhile his subjects went through their daily chores of dancing little more…
 

 

Let us work and dance and dance and work!
 

 

Seeing us dance, look the sun is smiling.
 

 

Look, how the tree dances!

 

 

 And the cattle dances. 
 My horse dances! He is happy (unlike the king’s).

 

 

Peeeepeeee-pepe! Dhumdhum-dhum-dhum! Jhunjhun-jhun-jhun!
 

 

The swing’s swinging.

 

 

Now the joyous peacock’s here.

 

 
It is a wedding and everyone’s dancing!

 

Uu-uu-uuuuuu! Dancing to the beat of life!

 

And the King in his kingdom, tired of the moody horse returns to his palace to attend a meeting.
Uu-uu-uuuuuu! The end!
The end? What type of story is this? It is the tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
Thunderous applause!


 

Read more about the Warli art here.
 
Photo courtesy – Google
 
Happy Earth Day everyone!
 

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You think the King Remembered What He Was Supposed to Remember?


I am the greatest of all great kings. I rule the land and the sea. Bow to me!

You’ll be dust one day, and completely forgotten.

My sons will carry my family name. We are the royals. Cheers to me!

Your sons will be dust too, and never talked about, ever.

My public worships me. I shine in gold and silver, I am the one they write about. Sing to me!

Once dust, you’ll become a name in a chronological list of the dead kings.

I am a just king, blessed by the almighty.

You think you’re immortal?

No. I know I’ll die one day.

Like all the others.

Like all the others…

Just remember this.


(In reference to no particular king and each and every king.)


Roger II of Sicily receiving the crown
from Christ, Martorana, Palermo.

My Victory Smile!

‘Your turn’, said Soni.
 
My turn…well Miss my turn started long back when I moved my Pawn two steps forward.
 
I have been calculating that in an attempt to get my Bishop in the twelfth move, you’ll definitely charge at my poor, innocent and a bit careless Pawn sitting on b3 and that is why…holy god, just because of that I took my Rook to the third rank and you…you ruthless being…is this just a game for you? Ah!
 
And now, what are you trying to do? This is not a casual move, advancing your Knight to e4…what should I do? Hey! King, wake up dude…I am fighting this battle for you.
 
And dear Queen, don’t mind but I think you are afraid of the gorgeous Black Queen…she has taken some bold steps…our brave little Pawn, may his soul fight the dead Black Pawns fiercely down there and show them no mercy…no mercy!
 
But we have to focus, dear Queen, if you are jealous of her, knock her down and listen, all the Pawns, don’t leave the field without blood on your swords.
 
Ahm! Respected Bishops and Knights and others (I am angry with the Rooks and hence I am not going to address them directly, it is because of them that more of our people are down)….
 
‘GS! Your turn’, repeated Soni.
 
I simply nodded. See…did anyone notice? I knew it, she is trying to read my mind. Oh! Oh! Relax! Shanti Om!
 
Yes! I think I should take my Knight to 6f…bold!
 
My friend, listen to me, I know it is a bold step but just see, my Bishop and that Pawn will be guarding it, and actually it is not that risky a position.
 
And I have to show her, you know, that look Miss you better back up, I am as brutal as Brutus (I am not getting personal here Mr. Brutus, but now that is what you have earned). Oh! She is yawning now! Clever! Come on, come on dear Knight….
 
‘Hmm…good one GS’, exclaimed Soni.
 
I smiled…a sweet grin; I know my expressions, my left eyebrow rises every time I put up my victory smile.
 
Ha! So, finally she is thinking hard, she looks confused…good for me. I am sure she will bring forth the Queen now or nothing less than the Bishop.
 
I have read a lot about this game Miss…you will be defensive now. Psychology is involved in everything, this game is…what…a Pawn! A Pawn?
 
‘There…GS…’, said Soni meditatively.
 
There is something wrong here. A Pawn! And she didn’t take that long…oh…it’s my Knight she wants. Hmm! Hmm! Hmm!
 
(A long pause) Hmm!
 
‘Come on…GS?’, enquired Soni.
 
Oops! Why, why do I always make my opponents comfortable with the idea that I am confused and that is why it’s taking too long?
 
Wait! Ha-ha! Rook, after all you want to make up for your hasty decisions…good.
 
Rook to d6…yes Miss, I am challenging you now. What about her sly Black Bishop? Na, it will take three moves for the Bishop to get me. Yes!
 
‘Oh!’, said Soni.
 
I have surprised her. She just can’t believe it. Hah!
 
‘Really?’, said Soni.
 
I think she has a habit of  thinking out loud. Poor girl! What will she do now? Her King looks as bewildered as she is right now.
 
Maybe she will fight with her Queen or her Rooks…but the latter ones just stand in every game that I have played with her.
 
She definitely knows that her only Bishop can’t do much…wait…when did her Knight reached f3…and her silly, stupid, puny Pawn reached h3?
 
Where is my rascal Rook! Oh!
 
‘Checkmate!’, said Soni. She smiled her victory smile.
 

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This post is inspired by the games these two mavericks are busy playing all the time.

Mama Don Soni, she always wins no matter what.
[Photo credit – Nirupama Thakur]
Ghumpu Shimpu (GS), Soni’s silly boy, he is always happy [he is singing ‘here comes the sun do-do-do’ in this photo].
[Photo Credit – Eddy]

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Subtracted World

Non nobis solum – not for thyself alone.
[Source – Pixabay]

I am the King and the Queen,

Of my subtracted world,

From my bedroom to where my smartphone takes me,

It’s shinning and laughing with glee.

Walking on the road, I hit a plastic bottle

‘High Score!’ cried my smartphone, when a little

Skinny girl pulled my sweater

Dirty hands open up… there was a letter

Crumpled, old and torn…ah, useless

I thought, but still checked it, to find two words

Remember Addition?


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