Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Anna Kareninas in our day and time

To understand love one should make a mistake and then correct it, said the princess Betsy.
Even after marriage? said the ambassador’s wife archly.
It’s never too late to mend, said the attaché, quoting the English proverb.
Exactly, chimed in Betsy. “One has to make mistakes and correct them. What do you think? she asked, addressing Anna, who with a scarcely discernible resolute smile was listening to this conversation.
“I think,” replied Anna, toying with the glove she had pulled off, “I think…if it’s true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kind of love as there are hearts.” – Anna Karenina

By John Cheeran
Spread over two weeks, I finally finished re-reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. My heart goes out to Anna, who followed her own heart, but in the end could not handle the tremors of her mind.
“The candle, by the light of which she had been reading the book filled with anxieties, deceptions, grief and evil, flared up with a brighter light, lit up for her all that had before been dark, crackled, began to flicker and went out for ever.”
Tolstoy began writing Anna Karenina on March 18, 1873 and finished it by July 1877. 133 years later, the emotional universe the Russian master chronicled remains relevant to you and me. That’s why we call it as a classic.
Are there any Annas out there amidst us?
It matters to recall that Anna defied the mores and culture of her society by moving out of a marriage that did not let her be herself. But, then, in the end she failed to handle the societal pressures. I, for one, would blame Vronsky for not understanding Anna’s concerns—of a heart that was torn between that of a mother and lover. Anna, definitely, deserved better from the free bird Vronsky. Vronsky was not prepared to surrender his freedom, whereas Anna had surrendered her whole being at the altar of her love. It’s a pity that Vronsky failed to hear the undercurrents of Anna’s mind. How does it matter then that he went on a suicidal mission to Serbia?
In contemporary Russia, and elsewhere, Anna would not have hurled herself in front of an onrushing train. Society would not have treated Anna as a fallen woman and much of her worries would have been unwarranted. Vronsky, or not, Anna would have been able to live her life on her own terms, though love would have helped.
But how true such an assessment would be in a place like India, more specifically, in Kerala? I’m being told that society still stifles and preys on a woman who follows her heart. Walking out of marriages is becoming common, but not easy. To be single is to invite ridicule. Alas, there are only a few Vronskys out there. For man, a single woman represents an opportunity for sex without any strings.
On the other hand we have too many Dollys and Kittys. Keeping up appearances and wallowing in shallow pleasures, they have turned into the guardian angles of the institution of marriage and morality.
With such hollow men and women being the custodians of what is right and wrong, modern-day Annas are conditioned not to follow their hearts.
Be that as it may, it may come as a surprise that Kerala does not lack in suicides. But I wonder how many of them were a result of listening to their hearts.
To want is not a crime in itself.
But to know one’s own mind and heart seems to be the unpardonable crime that an individual can commit in our day and time.

From Anna Karenina

All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Then someone should invent a way of inoculating love like a vaccination.

Do this for me, never say such words to me and let us be good friends. These were her words but her eyes said something very different

I ask only one thing. I ask the right to hope and suffer as I do now. But if even that’s impossible command me to disappear, and I will do it. Only don’t change anything. Leave everything as it is.

Karenin was being confronted with life.

1 comment:

chithrangada said...

when you desire some thing,it has the mysterious charm and allure.the moment you possess and makes it your own,and unveil the mysterious outer covering,the same thing will make you feel nauseated like a skeleton devoid of flesh.

John Cheeran at Blogged