A JOURNEY FROM MELODRAMA TO TRAGICOMEDY

A JOURNEY FROM MELODRAMA TO TRAGICOMEDY
THROUGH SOME SHAKESPEARE’S WORKS
©DEV VIRAHSAWMY FOUNDATION
The Management Company of the Foundation is OCORIAN, 6th Floor, Tower A, 1 Cybercity, Ebène, Mauritius.

‘Romeo and Juliet’, an early play, written towards the turn of the 16th century, is a tragedy of fate, of star-crossed lovers, based on the ancient belief that:
“As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.
They kill us for their sport.”

The play since its creation has been very popular, not because it is a great tragedy but because of the beauty of its poetry (for parting is such sweet sorrow); because of the blend of humour and seriousness, where the comic and the tragic are back to back; and specially because it is a brilliant tearjerker, a superb melodrama of the ‘kari brile’ type.

The two young lovers are not damned by some tragic flaw but are mere victims of fate.
The tragedies which later followed are marked by a new concept: the tragic flaw – I stumbled when I saw. Mauritians have much to learn from these plays as they will help us to move away from “pa mwa sa, li sa” to “pa li sa, mwa sa.” This is clearly shown in ‘Othello”. At the end of the play, there is a temptation to look for a scapegoat. The protagonist resists that temptation, takes his dagger and plunges it in his heart to kill the beast in him. Hell is not the other people as Sartre would say; hell is in oneself.

‘Hamlet’ is different. In the past, there was a tendency to look for Hamlet’s tragic flaw. Some said it was indecision. There is now a different approach. The play traces the growth of Hamlet until he understands what his real mission is: “There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” He is now a Christlike figure, ready for the great self-sacrifice to purge the world.

It can be said that classical tragedies are ruled by Greek gods and the God of the early books of the Old Testament and not by the God of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love (W. Blake), God of the New Testament. Shakespeare felt that surely for towards the end of his treatre career, he moved to a new type of plays which has the ingredients of a tragic end but which through a benevolent providence ends in reconciliation and reunion and not in separation and death. It’s the triumph of love and forgiveness. ‘The Tempest’ is a good example of the tragicomic mood.

My version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ entitled ‘Ramdeo ek Ziliet’ gives the play a tragicomic twist and the lovers are saved by a Sufi Sheik. In my own way, I try to walk in the steps of the great bard.

21.02.19

PROGRESSIVES OF MAURITIUS UNITE!

©DEV VIRAHSAWMY FOUNDATION
The Management Company of the Foundation is OCORIAN, 6th Floor, Tower A, 1 Cybercity, Ebène, Mauritius.

Among all groups and sub-groups in our country, there are, broadly speaking, two categories, namely progressives and reactionaries. For this reason, we have to be careful and not slip into hysteria. Oversimplification and overgeneralization must be avoided at all costs. Our history has too often been marked by such sterile reactions. Racist slogans had in the past dragged people from the noble battle for independence and forced people to emigrate out of fear.

50 years of independence have not consolidated the basics of a strong foundation for building a rainbow nation and now the adventurism of the neoliberal state of India and its ally in Mauritius is threatening to destroy the little we have achieved. This may lead to a flare-up of hostility, grudge, distrust and suspicion and thwart our nation building efforts.

We must not mix up issues. We are all immigrants on this creole island which has given us space and means to build new lives and hopes. Our great-great-grand parents were wise to settle here and allow us to create a new culture based on borrowings, adaptations and innovations. Our first love must be for this creole land and not for our real or mythical cum fabricated ancestral land.

On this creole island, we are not Indians, Chinese, French, Malagasies or Mozambicans. We are Hindu Mauritians, Christian Mauritians, Muslim Mauritians, Buddhist Mauritians or free-thinking Mauritians. Our Motherland is the Maritime Republic of Mauritius which is a source of well-being, love and care; our sacred lakes are our lagoons which provide us with healthy food and leisure; our sacred shrines are our trees which give us fresh air to breathe; our first and foremost duty is to our ‘Mata-Pita’ Mauritius and to all the people of this beautiful creole island; then to our Blue Planet which is in the throes of devastation and destruction in the hands of ruthless, heartless insatiate neoliberals and to humanity and other forms of life which deserve protection against Mammon’s progeny.

In each one of the groups mentioned above, there are reactionaries and progressives. Christian reactionaries believe God is white and Big White Money is to be worshipped; Christian progressives believe that Jesus, an avatar of God, is a freedom fighter and as Pope Francis, they believe in the liberation theology. Muslim reactionaries of the despicable-opportunistic-Soodhun type, lick Arab petrodollar princes’ feet, not to mention another part of the anatomy; progressive Muslims, who have studied the Koran, know that the fundamental message of Islam is SHARING which one day will become part of humanity’s cultural heritage. Hindu reactionaries think that Modi is divine – enn tigit pli piti ki bondie – and BIG INDIAN MONEY is to be worshipped. They have turned their backs on the workers and peasants who are getting poorer and poorer while the GREAT BROWN SAHIBS are wallowing in filthy lucre. The message of Mahatma Gandhi is binned. The new culture: Forget peasants who lose everything and commit suicide; forget women of procreative age who are not allowed into certain temples; forget the persecution of Indian Muslims; forget moral values for you are now blessed by Lord Roupia.

Progressive Hindus know the difference between faith and rituals; they know the positive contribution of the Arya Samaj movement; they believe in social justice and know that neoliberalism is destroying not only the planet but also the moral, cultural and spiritual fibres of India. Progressive Mauritian Hindus understand the expression: “Donn enn dizef, pran enn bef.” They don’t support Modi, his entourage and the obsequious Mauritian sycophants and cronies, RODER BOUT PAR EXCELLENCE.

Since the world, at present, is in thrall to the destructive ideology and ambition of dangerous neoliberal politicians of the Trump-Modi type, progressives are facing difficult times. But this will not last forever. BIG MONEY, all over the world has joined forces to wipe out resistance to the power of money. But progressives are getting organized. At planetary level, there is now ‘Progressive International’ under the leadership of people like Bernie Sanders or Yanis Varoufakis. In Mauritius, we must unite all progressives on a programme based on integral development and not only economic growth, on social justice and not might is right, on GREEN ideology and not GREED.

One big unknown! WHO WILL LEAD THIS SALVATION MOVEMENT?

16.02.19