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This Is Not the Mardana I Know

The Singing Guru

Wednesday
,
7
October
2015

This Is Not the Mardana I Know

The Singing Guru

Wednesday
,
7
October
2015
Bhai Mardana
⟵ Back to articles

This Is Not the Mardana I Know

The Singing Guru

Wednesday
,
7
October
2015

A reading that was difficult. A reading that compelled me to voice my concerns.

At last, the book arrives. The book that everyone seems to want me to read. On a gorgeous Saturday morning, I settle in with the book.

He recalled how once, when Nanak and he had returned home to Sultanpur after a long journey. Fatima had been angry at Mardana and told him to go away and leave her alone. Mardana, upset, had gone to the village bhang shop and had some in a hookah, sitting in a circle with others, all pleasantly high and happy. He had returned home in an amorous mood and made up with Fatima. Wah! Wah. Allah himself had descended into their bed and bodies that night! As Mardana recalled the scene, his fingers reached out and traced the contours of his wife’s absent body. – The Singing Guru, page 4

“Mardana turned his mind to the image of the kind hostess in the last village where Baba and he had rested. Her features and face swam before his mind’s eye: her slim brown hand as it handed him the full glass of cinnamon and cardamom-spiced milk; the shape of her body as she labored over the fire to make their meal; her arm jangling with bangles as she brought him the dinner plate arranged with delicious food; her face with its large, dark eyes, and the tiny dimple at the corner of her lips as she smiled at him in the morning while giving him a warm honey ginger drink. The more Mardana thought about her, the more his senses were inflamed, and the more agitated he became.”
– The Singing Guru, page 5

“Yes, I will find a woman now,” he fantasized aloud. “Young and beautiful like the first bloom on the mango tree, smelling of fragrant sandalwood and the roses. She will be waiting eagerly, her eyes filled with adoration for me. Perhaps her name will be …Razaa…yes, her name will be Razaa, the obedient one. She will be willing and submissive, unlike my Fatima. I will make a home with her, start another family, and I will never ever leave. Besides, who knows what’s happened to my family in my long absence?”

A pang of guilt held him at the thought of Fatima-her high cheekbones, that dark mole on her chin, her quick and lively brown eyes that flashed in anger or annoyance just as frequently as they did with love and need. “Ah, my Fatima with her sharp tongue, always giving me a hard time about traveling and not being there for her. What a shrew she can be! And who knows what she’s been up to in my absence?” – The Singing Guru, page 6

Breath tightens.

Tears flow.

Heart aches.

Body quivers.

I feel violated at multiple levels.

What are they writing about my Mardana?

Don’t they know that this is the man that Patshah chose to walk with him?

The Singing Guru, is a tantalizing read. I am sure the world will embrace it, for the writing of Kamla Kapur is exquisite. Her command of the English language is to be coveted.

But, this is not the Mardana I know.

Fifty-four pages of the book is all that I can handle.

The content is just too painful for a lover, a dreamer like me.

I look at the bibliography, it reveals that chapters 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21 are an invention of the author.

I know not what to say.

I know not what to do.

I wonder, am I making too much out of this?

And then…

The words of Bhai Mardana enter my consciousness:

Consume: wisdom (molasses), glory (bread), and reverence (meat).

Nanak: this is the eternal meal; eternal identification is the support.2. – [GGS: 553]

I feel cradled.

Let the world write and say what they want.

For me, he is the one my Patshah chose to walk with him.

I rest…

Revised:

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Written By

Creative Director

Inni Kaur is Creative Director at the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI). She has served SikhRI in several capacities since 2010, including Chair of the Board, and most recently as CEO. 

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