A Mirrored Life by Rabisankar Bal & Arunava Sinha
I am not sure if I am more impressed by the translations of Arunava Sinha or his choice of books that he chooses to translate. A Mirrored Life is the second book of the writer-translator duo of Rabisankar Bal and Arunava Sinha I am reading – first being Dozakhnama. Bal has a brilliant knack for recreating lives of the poets, authors, and travelers from different times. And make them meet in his fictional setting – while juxtaposing their philosophies. It is brilliant to see them talking and exchanging notes and reflecting on each other’s times. In this book he makes Rumi – whom he calls Maulana throughout the book, meet Ibn Batuta – the traveler.
This small novel A Mirrored Life is like stories from the life of Rumi woven together in a multilayered quilt. The stories that keep you awake. Stories that make you ask what next? And annoy you when the storyteller takes a break. Stories telling you so much while you are lost in the flow of the author’s narration. There are stories of Maulana and his family, his antics and his friends. Stories of those who tell his stories. There is romance, drama, duty, religion, free will. And most importantly Rasa in each and every story that makes up this work.
A Mirrored Life language is kind of winding – taking you inwards. Letting you enjoy the musings of an inner world that exist within all of us. The format of short stories or qissa making a larger story is the hallmark of eastern writing. The author himself says – A qissa can tell more than a thousand words of philosophy. Philosophies come and philosophies go, but a story lives on for thousand years, in different lands, in different forms.
Then there are analogies – something like the Sakhis of Kabir that leave a visual in your mind even if you forget the story e.g. The fire in the oven blackens everything at first, then reddens them, and finally whites – this he uses to explain the ways of the God. Or this – The more the clouds weep, the more it rains, and the more the gardens smile’. Interspersed with poetry – language adds a ‘Makhmali’ texture to the text and you just keep savoring it.
Since the narrator of this tale is a traveler – Ibn Batuta, makes me think to the extent your travels can change you. He begins by saying – There is no end to pilgrim spots on this earth – the world itself is a place where pilgrims gather. Then someone tells him, “You will visit so many different places, you’ll see and hear so many different things, and as you go through all these experiences, I am certain that you will grow more beautiful, purer”.
He says ‘There is no friend more intimate than the road. It’s the kind of friendship that holds back nothing, only taking you from one mystery of life to another’. How beautifully he describes history – History is not an event or a story, history is an obligation, which you are compelled to bear during your human existence. I learned the Hoopoe was traditionally known as the bird of knowledge.