… looks like one strange animal. Kidding! Please do not send a morcha to my house. I’ve gone fishin’.
If you’re reading this blog but usually like to read ancient Indian poetry or know something about the subject because you’re freaky like that, then this is my lucky day because i have a favor to ask.
I’ve been trying to find this poem for some time now – it describes the ideal, presumably Indian, woman thus (I paraphrase heavily):
Her eyes are those of a doe
Her nose is a parrot’s beak
Her braid is a long, black sinuous snake
And her walk is that of a elephant
I’m pretty sure my puny attempt at half-remembered translation has stripped the lines of all grace and meaning (well, read them – they sound ridiculous!) but they were beautiful in their original form and they opened my mind to a new way of thinking about the world in which we live and human beings in general. Also, Disney cartoons but that’s a different story.
Now as I remember it, it was written in Sanskrit or one of the early vernaculars (Pali or Prakrit) and in my memory at least it described the many charms of Draupadi. I could be making this up – it could well be a general guideline for women to aspire to, the same way “skinny + fair/tanned depending on culture you live in” are the general instructions for young women today.
I normally have an excellent memory for things that I like but the year we came across this was an incredibly boring year for Hindi at my school, chiefly because our teacher had developed a habit of skipping over anything in the least interesting with the words “Well, you can read this at home, can’t you?” To this day I have recurring nightmares that I’m sitting for my Hindi exams and not only have I not “read this at home” but I have mysteriously lost the ability to read Hindi at all!
What was I saying?
Ah yes – so if any of you kind people out there remember your ancient poems and this one in particular, could you please let me know who wrote it or its title? Much appreciated.