Monday, March 27, 2006

Love is like baldness [cont.d]

and other insights from and thoughts on The Adventures of Hir and Ranjha by Waris Shah (transl. Usborne)

this continues from the first installment of Love is like baldness

Chapters 15 and 16: Hir's father decides it's time she gets married. He is tempted to give her to Ranjha - what better way than marriage to kill this romance? But a good muslim father must take into account many things. And so Hir is married off to the Kheras instead, because they are a. of much higher caste than the lowly Ranjhas, and b. the only fools in Punjab who have not heard of Hir's affair.

Chapter 17: Waris Shah builds the tension by switching from one emotional scene to another.

...thus did Hir lament on being parted with Ranjha
is followed immediately by
Meanwhile the buffaloes were ill at ease...

Chapter 17 cont.d: The Kheras must also be the most absent-minded people in Punjab. The large baraat heads back to their village Rangpur in celebratory mood, without noticing the romantic Ranjha following them. But surely they would have been aware of the beautiful new bride they were taking home, the new daughter of the village, the wife of one of their sons? But to hear Waris tell it, Hir finding herself alone and the Kheras merry making, made a signal to Ranjha, called him into her palanquin and embraced him tenderly.

These two are addicted to danger! Not for them running away, it has to be making out in the middle of the girl's wedding baraat or nothing.

Chapter 17 cont.d: There's an exciting and pointless tirade against the Jats generally. Sadly my translation omits it.

Chapter 18: Hir is now at her new home. Meanwhile, Ranjha resolves to become a fakir and 'bore his ears'. Not to mention everyone else's. He also decides to bring back Hir.

It is not clear why he needs to be a fakir to bring back Hir, or how being an ascetic is even consistent with pursuing his beloved. But anyhow...

Chapter 19: A year passes. Hir sends Ranjha a message. Ranjha rejoices and again resolves to become a fakir, and bring back Hir. Ranjha is somewhat lazy.

Chapter 20: Ranjha finds himself a holy man to be his Guru. The Guru likes what he sees: My lad, your looks are saucy... The guru continues dreamily: have painted your eyes with lamp-black; you play on the flute and stare at women. You tie up cows and milk them. He makes it sound so kinky.