Promises a mesmerizing ending
“I pitied him in his blindness,” but can I boast, “I see?”
“Perhaps there walks a spirit close by, who pities me.” Harry Kemp
These lovely words sum up this classic of Rabindranath Tagore. He makes her cry, he makes her writhe in agony, he makes her bleed till her heart begs for consolation. Yet he makes her smile, he makes her remember of the childhood days gone by, he makes her love, he makes her a sister, he makes her a wife, he, Rabindranath Tagore makes Kumo do all this and more. Who is Kumo? A very common question does so arise. Well Kumo happens to be the protagonist of the Bengali novel ‘Dhrishti’ (Vision), set in the early 20th century where India was still under colonialism and women were still a burden.
Kumo is introduced like a crescendo, so silent, so demure in the beginning but then suddenly giving out a strong message, “You can’t ignore me.” A devoted and loving wife, whose duty she thinks is to pacify her husband even if she has to lie to do so. We are talking about a story when girls were married off at a very young age, and Kumo was no exception to this rule. Married off at an early age however was not her only tragedy, she suffers from not only the loss of a child but also her vision in the due process. Her husband Avinash is a doctor in training and by his lack of experience blinds Kumo by giving her the wrong medication. The author has so beautifully penned the words to describe the angst of a mother who couldn’t see her dead child that they nearly move you to tears. But then again she does not hold a grudge against her husband for she thinks that she is, “First a wife to a living husband than a mother to a dead child.” All question this statement of her’s until she is provoked to say,
“My blindness was itself a sufficient evil. Why should I make it worse by allowing hatred to grow up against my husband?”
Her husband, suffering from self-condemnation, pities her blindness and thinking his pity as love, promises to never remarry.
But then enters Hemangi, fresh as mint, bringing a shade of grey to this otherwise black story. Beautiful and outspoken, she happens to be a strongly independent woman who believes in marrying for love, not to live as a servant. A predecessor to today’s modern woman, she is a close confidante to Kumo, but also a toy wanted by Avinash.
Kumo’s otherwise simple life turns into a nightmare as the relationship between Hemangi and Avinash grows.
Avinash is then left to decide – Kumo, the blind, loving wife or Hemangi, the beautiful, outspoken woman? So does the internal battle start, of love against allure, promising a mesmerizing ending.