Thursday, November 27, 2014

डा. हरिवंशराय बच्चन

आज कवि लेखक, साहित्यकार डा. हरिवंशराय बच्चन की जयंती है .उत्तर छायावाद के प्रमुख कवि और हालावाद के एक प्रणेता होने के साथ साथ हिन्दी गद्य साहित्य में भी उनका एक अलग स्थान है.मधुशाला, मधुबाला और मधुकलश की त्रयी से रचना कर्म आरंभ करने के उपरांत उन्होंने अनेकों कविताएं लिखीं. चार भागों में लिखी उनकी आत्मकथा ने हिन्दी गद्य साहित्य में नए प्रतिमान स्थापित किए .कैंब्रिज विश्वविद्यालय से अङ्ग्रेज़ी साहित्य में पी.एचडी हासिल करने वाले दूसरे भारतीय होने का गौरव भी उन्हें प्राप्त है 1935 से ले कर 1985 तक पाँच दशकों की सृजन यात्रा में, कविता, गद्य , आलोचना, निबंध , अनुवाद आदि का बृहद साहित्य संसार रचने वाले इस महान लेखक कवि को साहित्य अकादमी पुरस्कार, सोवियत लैंड पुरस्कार, लोटस अवार्ड, सरस्वती सम्मान यहाँ तक कि पद्मभूषण से भी सम्मानित किया गया.दो बार राज्यसभा के सदस्य भी रहे . परंतु फिर भी लगता है कि हिन्दी साहित्य जगत में अभी उनका मूल्यांकन उस तरह से नहीं हो पाया जैसा कि अपेक्षित था .

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Last Leaf

‘The Last Leaf’ can easily be called O Henry’s masterpiece. Two girls–Sue  and Johnsy, both painters share a studio. Johnsy gets afflicted with illness and despite the doctor’s best efforts, does not show any improvement in her condition. The doctor has almost given up on her saying that she herself does not want to get well and recover , and rightly so. Bed ridden as she is, she keeps looking at an ivy creeper visible through the window and keeps counting the number of leaves left on it , it being the Autumn season. Mysteriously , she thinks that with the dropping of each leaf, her life is nearing its end. Sue wants to drive her away from this foolish thought , but it is of no use . Behrman, an old painter, past sixty, and a failed artist, who still harbours dreams of painting a masterpiece one day, also has a studio in the same building and manages to earn a little by modelling for the young artists. Sue approaches him for a similar assignment and incidentally shares her concern regarding Johnsy ‘s deteriorating condition. For once dismissing Johnsy’s foolish idea of associating her life with the Ivy leaves, he also gets serious and during a stormy night when the last leaf has also fallen, paints a leaf on the wall at the same place where the last leaf hung. Unmindful of this, seeing that the ‘ last leaf ‘ has not fallen and is still there, Johnsy regains her desire to live and shows visible signs of improvement . Only later , when told that Behrman has died of Pneumonia , do they come to know that ‘the last leaf’ which had survived the winds and the storm was actually a painting done by him during that stormy night , so that Johnsy won’t give in and somehow get over her illness and recover. ‘The last leaf ‘ painted by Berhman was certainly his masterpiece that had saved Johnsy’s life .

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

‘The Vendetta’ ,a story & ‘Yousuf’,a poem – a study in contrast.

Lately  I  have read a story ‘The  Vendetta’ by  Guy de Maupassant  in  which  the main character  is an old lady, the widow  of  Paulo Saverini . It so happens that   her son, Antoine  gets killed  by one  Nicholas Ravolati  after a dispute  and the widow left alone   full of sorrow and sadness , spends  sleepness nights  thinking of ways to avenge the   murder of her son. She has a  shepherd dog called Semillante . An idea strikes her and  she experiments  by starving   the dog  and making him attack  a dummy. The result is encouraging as the hungry  dog  pounces upon the dummy  and  mauls it completely. After a few days she again starves  the dog and  disguised as an old man,  takes it to the  village  of   Nicholas Ravolati, the murderer of her son. She calls out  to him by name and when he comes out , she lets the dog loose and  motions it to attack  Nicholas, who  in a short while makes a short work of  the murderer . Having  completed her mission , she returns to her  house  and  sleeps well .
In contrast, I am reminded of  a poem  ‘ Yousuf ‘ which I read in school. Since this was  more than four decades ago, I have forgotten the name of the poet , and  unfortunatelu even the Google has been of no help in tracing  the poem and the poet. Yousouf, a man of God,  welcomes a stranger  to his home  for the night and the stranger, overwhelmed  by  the  hospitality  and  burdened  with guilt  discloses the  fact that he is the murderer of  Yousuf’s son . To his utter surprise, Yousuf  instead of  abusing him or  cursing him,  gives him  money  and  asks  him to  get away at once  before the  feeling of revenge gets the better of him . In the latter case,  the virtue of forgiveness  comes to the fore .
In both the cases, a son has been murdered , but the reaction  of the survivors of the victims  is  exactly the opposite. This shows the complexity  of human nature and psyche.