Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Queen of Dreams bibliotherapeutic quotes: "I heard my mother say that each of us lives in a separate universe, one we have dreamed into being. We love people when their dream coincides with ours, the way two cutout designs laid on top of the other might match. But dream worlds are not static like cutouts; sooner or later they change shape, leading to misunderstanding, loneliness and loss of love." (p.157)

"The story hangs in the night air between them. ...In the mind of each, different images swirl up and fall away, and each holds on to a different part of the story, thinking it the most important. And if each were to speak of what it meant, they would say things so different you would not know it was the same story they were speaking of. But the sharing of the story has created something that stretches, trembling like the thinnest strand of a spiderweb between them." (p.192)

Divakaruni's cultural background tints the novel in the soft light of maya, she quotes the Brihat Swapna Sarita: "The dream comes heralding joy. /I welcome the dream./ The dream comes heralding sorrow./ I welcome the dream./ The dream is a mirror showing me my beauty./ I bless the dream./ The dream is a mirror showing me my ugliness./ I bless the dream./ My life is nothing but a dream/From which I will wake into death,/which is nothing but a dream of life.

The story hovers in the reader's mind like Rikki's dragonfly, not resting on one theme, rather flitting from the first and second generation immigrant experience to mother/daughter-father/daughter relationships to 9/11 flashbacks to arrive unselfconsciously, "Thoughts thud through my head like a herd of elephants. ...But these are not my real thoughts. The real thoughts are the ones I'm staving off by filling my mind, as fast as I can, with unnecessary chatter." (p.315) When, a few pages earlier, Divakaruni summed up for all of us why the chatter is there: "A wild bird shrieks somewhere. We all flinch. But it's not the night that is frightening, nor its birds, however wild they may be. There's nothing out there that's worse than human beings." (p.300)