Thursday, May 13, 2010

Loona: Exploring Desire (Opening Notes)

What fascinates me about Loona is the theme it sets out to explore. Nowhere is the consummate ease with which Shiv can inhabit all 360 degrees on the desire and suffering axis more apparent than it is in Loona. From the opening sequences in which Natti and Sutradhar, heavenly narrators from Indra’s court, make love in the forests we know that desire and yearning are the underlying theme of the narrative. The opening sequences are dense with metaphors and imagery. The Ravi river is a snake of fire, its forked fangs, ravishing the pale, moonlit valley below. The valley of Champa, is a riot of champa flowers blossoming in the deadly midnight hour, unleashing impossible desires. We are introduced to desire as the impulse hidden inside nature, the source of all creation.

And then there are the characters each engaged with his/her own tryst with the nature of desire. There is the old king Salwan battling his loss of libido and seeking a way into the sun of his own being through a new mating. There is Loona, reckless in her anger at being yoked to an older man and yearning for a love which can match hers in ardour and youthfulness. There is Ichran the unceremoniously abandoned wife of Salwan seeking to come to terms with no longer being an object of desire. And then there is the lofty Puran, who desires a love that transcends the physical and seeks a union only with infinitude.

It is very clear that the underlying theme is extremely important to Shiv and he has tried to be totally honest and sincere in his exploration. “It is difficult to walk naked,” he writes in his Introduction. “I have presented the characters in this book in their stark reality. I can’t detach myself from these characters. I leave it to readers to judge their frank reality and truth as they think fit.”

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