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Visualizing Divinity


Deepak Sharma

AWAAK (SPEECHLESS)
By Gagan Gill
Vani Prakashan, Delhi, 2008, Rs. 400.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 2 Febuary 2011

Cutting into the heart of a corpus of travel narratives Gagan Gill's Awaak(Speechless) is a striking account of her pilgrimage to KailashManasarovara phantasmagoric chimera for most of us. Merging fable, myth and history with theology, Gagan Gill whisks us off along her peregrinationundertaken as a proxy for her husband, Nirmal Verma, whose longstanding desire to visit KailashManasarovar in her company could not be fulfilled. What began as a growing compulsion metamorphoses into a new penchant for life. What adds further power and value to the book is the sweep and texture of its language. Rich in meaning and visual content, it not only conveys the authors inner spirit but also manifests her genius almost unfailingly. She uses its full potential with a heightened sense of selfawareness as she mobilizes its imagemaking capacity while also creating a strong rhythm. Gagan Gill packs her text with people and events with the close, clear gaze of a miniaturist with the result that during the time that is occupied with its reading, many magical moments come forth to bespeak her literary prowess, and we get all set to receive them readily with the same willing suspension of disbelief with which the author and her fellowpilgrims experience and accept those moments. Some of these moments are personal and some shared with others. What she encounters at Mansarovar is highly personal. Manasarovar, as we all know, is the highest freshwater lake of the world, situa ted at 14,950 feet above sea level and Gagan Gill and her fellowpilgrims had reached there from Kathmandu via DhuliKhel, Koddari, Nayalam, Saga and Piyang, with one overnight stay at Dhuli Khel, one near Nayalam, one at Nayalam, one at Saga and one at Piyang. It was after these five nights, that on the sixth night, when they were all camping at Manasarovar that Gagan Gill was suddenly woken up by a tearing abdominal pain as if a pair of pincers was pulling her vitals out. Unable to bear the pain she moved out of the dark tent where she was camping with her six companions. And there, outside the tents in the open sky glittered several stars, each more radiant than the other. Mesmerized by the bright, sparkling sky she envisaged that it was that time of the night when the Devas descend on Manasrovar. As the story goes, Manasarovar was created in the mind of Lord Brahma and is ...


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