Mar 17, 2009

Touched by the Taj

I have been writing essays since the third grade and Boy!! Was I excited to see the Taj Mahal for real!! On the pre-planned weekend at Agra with my HOPE tribe… I finally get to do so. The Taj, needless to say was beautiful especially as it has that creamy glow with the March sunset. It evoked all sorts of emotions within me. As much as I felt elated to witness such a beautiful sight, deep deep down in my heart, I felt a certain pain. As I stared at the magnificent tomb in the sunset, I couldn’t help but admire its beauty; the marble carving with plant motifs, the symmetry of the columns and figures and the feel of the cool marble under my skin. Tourists around me obviously admired it too as their tour guides mentioned over and over again about the love that Shah Jahan has for his queen. But the love that the emperor had for his wife was the very last thing on my mind as I walked the cool marble floor.

In school, I learnt that the Taj Mahal was built by 20,000 workers who toiled everyday for 22 years. It was said that the workers were all killed/ dismembered by Shah Jahan, after the completion, to make sure that something as beautiful would never be built again: the tragedy of it all. As I hurt my neck from tilting my head too much to admire even just the ceilings, I also wondered the irony of it all. How many people have died to create something this beautiful?? In fact, I could almost see bloodstains on the cool marble walls. Laborers, workers and slaves have toiled day in day out to built this marble tomb by the Yamuna. Well, do they know that they would be killed at its completion? How would they have felt while laboring in the construction of this tomb which was built by the emperor for his late queen while they toil day in and day out to feed their living ones? Questions, too much questions!! How unjust is the world?? While some have enough to build this magnificently extravagant tomb for his dead wife, some don’t have enough to feed their living ones.

Back home in Aizawl, there is this man, a school teacher/owner, who built a “mini Taj” for his late wife; made it a paid visiting site; remarried and carried on with his life. I don’t criticize him much… except for the fact that he made the tomb a paid visiting site!! Well, if that’s the way that he wanted to show his love for his wife… so be it, not to mention that he already published a book about their life together. But a couple of years ago when I went to visit the tomb… certain thoughts crossed my head. Would I want someone to show his love for me this way?? A lovely, expensive, huge, white tomb immortalizing my rotting corpse while there are people out there who could barely afford a roof over their living heads!

With that thought in my head and the Taj Mahal still in my mind’s eye, I write this to whoever loves me enough to do something this huge, for I am sure that I am loved enough even though he/ she may not be an emperor who affords such extravagance. Please do not immortalize me, for I am but a mortal being. The world is just my journey, I’m just passing through it and I don’t want to get stuck in it. I just want to live my life here, love as much as I can, live to the fullest, and go on when my time comes. I want to be remembered for some time for what I do, and later be forgotten too. Please don’t let my name be remembered for all time. Don’t let my name be stuck in history because of the beautiful, expensive, white tomb where my mortal body lies rotting! And lastly, and most importantly, please remember that just because you don’t build me a marble tomb doesn’t mean that you love me less than those who do so ….

3 comments:

illusionaire said...

Went to the Mizo Taj Mahal once, and it was free of charge because the deceased wife that he built in memory of happened to be the sister of my aunt's husband. ("uncle" ka ti dawna, mahse ti hian a chiang zawkin ka hria :-) )

Its romantic but odd that he would charge the public for entry, but at the same time I guess it makes sense because being the jobless people that we are, many would be spending the entire day loitering around there and eating kuhva and smoking and even drinking. There will be chinai and red kuhva stains everywhere and there need to be somebody who clean that, hence maintenance charge need to be paid too.

I love your thought on your last lines, but I think its also not about being loved more or less when we immortalize somebody. The person who loves you wants to make sure other people know your story too.

As for me, I really wouldn't mind if a woman who loves me lots built me a marble palace :D And I would even prefer it more, if that palace was built while I am still alive. lolz.

EPISTEMOLOGY said...

never been to taj mahal..!

blackestred said...

My first time here.. nice review on the Taj, and I do agree the one in Aizawl is indeed extravagant, but its a reminder of what he's lost and the pain was obviously severe cos' the death was abrupt and sudden.. People are different, so while some may erect statues, buildings, in remembrance, others would rather donate and start charities..
Considering the scarcity of places in Aizawl to visit on a Sunday evening, I would like more such monuments to be erected, if not in my name, then anybody elses'! :)