Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bonbibi - Part 2

Dakkhin Rai ruled the land of the eighteen tides before Bonbibi and her brother arrived on the scene. It is interesting to note that Dakkhin Rai (and his mother Narayani) are ostensibly Hindu, while Bonbibi and her brother Shah Jangali are Muslims. The myth talks of a fierce battle between the forces of Dakkhin Rai (led by his mother) and Bonbibi in which he is displaced as the ruler. A truce is worked out and thereafter Bonbibi rules the inhabited part of the Sunderbans and Dakkhin Rai retreats to the inhospitable nether reaches of the forest.

The truce is however a tense one, fraught with constant skirmishes. Different stories show how Dakkhin Rai tries to gain the upper hand, only to be shot down by Bonbibi. It echoes the realities of the land. The constant tussle between the mangrove swamps (with its wilderness and tigers) and human habitation. The struggle between the tides and frequent storms and the ever-changing landmass. The daily fight for existence that the native has to endure, against the elements of nature to bring back his catch of fish or just cultivate his land without falling prey to the tiger. The lure of the wild as opposed to the steadfastness of domesticity. Faith in her benevolence versus fear of his guile and ferocity.

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