Sunday, 27 July, 2008

I Do So Love Marias...

The first time I got introduced to a character named Maria was when I saw 'The Sound of Music' at an early age of five or six. The movie along with its music made a huge impression on me but most of all I was impressed by Maria. Since then I have seen that old familar movie lots of times--times when I am feeling lost, nostalgic, bored, sad. And everytime I see the movie Maria makes a little stronger impression on me. Her character, her likes, dislikes, momentary lapses of confidence all seems stuff that happens to me.
When Maria sings
"I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me."
I know just what she is talking about. Even though till a few years back I had no idea how it felt to spend a really cold winter with snow and all, yet some of my favourite things bacame--
"Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things."
My next favourite fictional Maria is the Brazilian prostitute in Paulo Coelho's Eleven Minutes. I love the character for her candidness and also because she readily takes full responsibility of all her actions. If you look at how literature/media in India has potrayed prostitutes or csw/commercial sex workers politically correct term) has always been victims of society or destiny. Maybe they are, you get to hear aout women in the West who choose to trade their bodies for a better life style but Indian nari, the ever sati savitri is a whole different ball game. But I often used to wonder by turning cws as victims are we not generalising and taking away their voices? Anyways to get back to the Maria of Eleven Minutes, she is not a victim at all, she is someone who takes money for having sex with men and goes to the library in the afternoons. She knows what she is doing and happy in her own skin. This was such a change from the usual, that its freshness immensely appeals to me.
Then comes Tabu playing Maria in M.F. Hussian's Meenaxi. This Maria was an orphan in Prague who works as a waitress. I love the air of mystery that surrounds Tabu in this movie and especially as Maria.

And last but not least is the Maria who plays a character role in the book I am reading currently. The book is Paul Auster's Leviathan and Maria was one time girl friend/ Sex partner of the hero Peter Aaron who is also the narrotor of the story. According to him Maria is "...eccentric, an unorthodox person who lived her life according to an elaborate set of bizarre, private rituals. Every experience was systematised for her, a self contained adventure that generated its own risks and limitations,...". This Maria on her every birthday threw herself a birthday party and invited the same number of guests as her age, indulge in 'the chromatic diet' restricting herself to foods of a single colour on any single day or spend a day under the spell of a single alphabet. I just love this character, she is too bizarre to be true. While reading about her, I felt she vaguely resembled Maya of the movie Izajjat.

All these characters are etched by different people at different points of time and for different purposes. But somehow the name Maria threads them togather. Maybe Maria is an easy name to give, convininet and common enough but not plain like Jane. But for whatever reasons these characters were named Maria, they carried off being Maria too well. For me, when I come across the name Maria, it means interesting characters ahead. Now I have to meet an equally interesting Maria in person.


  1. Well that's easy......Maria is an advocate working with HRLN. She started the Wyanaad unit in Kerala. Amazingly strong woman and a wonderful person to boot. Very focussed, driven and an activist in the true sense with no time for pettiness of any kind. So Suchi dear, go ahead and set up the meeting......

  2. hey muthu sorry for not responding to this earlier....i met maria on a couple of occassions, though never spoke to her...shld make more effort next time i come across her..


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