I did this painting some years ago. It is incomplete – still a work in progress. And yet it has graced the wall in my living room for a while now. I don’t even remember who sent me the reference image and in what context. My computer crashed about a year ago and I lost most of the data. The reference image is missing. I find I don’t really want to do any more work on it. It speaks for where I come from, where I am and where I am going. So why am I sharing this with you now? It is because of one line from a song in a recent Hindi movie- Kai Po Che. The song is called – Manja. And the specific lyrics from the song that I refer to are – ” Suljha lenge uljhe rishton ka manjha ” (Do turn up the volume on your device and hit play :-). The lyrics with an English translation are given at the end of this post).

Manja is the kite string that is tightly wrapped around spools. It is usually coated with a colorful mixture that contains glass dust. Why? So that in kite flying battles, you can use your glass sharded string to cut the neighbors kite strings. Sadly, it destroys the hands of the person who applies this mixture/paste. Their hands hurt all the time and are covered in a gazillion cuts. It is hard, monotonous and bloody work. Hours of spinning in circles around two wooden poles  rolling and stringing endless rolls of pliable virgin yarn into brightly coloured skeins rendered razor sharp with a mixture of wax, powdered glass, mud and pigment. The mixture slices the hands of its handlers- usually a bunch of young adolescents led by an older string maker. >> The Indian Kite Festival which takes place on Sankranti is held on January 14th every year. It heralds the onset of the harvesting season and is one of fun and splendor. As an artist who loves colour, it is a sight to behold. One can see a multitude of colorful kites take flight. What you see is a vast network of kite strings that criss-cross the sky.  Again, it’s fun for us but I would hate to be a bird in the sky when those kites are in air. So much in life that is not black and white.

Suljha lenge uljhe rishton ka manjha Every time I hear these lines I get goose bumps. It makes me think of the tangled relationships I have in my life.  The song takes me back to my roots in Patiala. The kite shop next to my naniji’s  sister Satwant Masiji’s house. It does not exist anymore. It’s been torn down to make way for condominiums. As a child I remember spending hours seeing the kites being made. This old man used to make them while we all sat and watched in rapt attention. The balance/ shape/ weight had to be just right otherwise the kite would not take flight. And of course as the youngest in the family and a girl to boot- it was my job to hold the kite and release it when my brother said “now” 🙂

This painting is not for sale – and will stay in my studio as a ‘practice session’. I also want to leave you with some images from my friend Chandan Dubey’s work around the kite makers.

Lyrics of this song with English translation :

Roothe khwabon ko mana lenge
We’ll pacify the angry dreams,
Kati patangon ko thaamenge
we’ll hold the cut kites,
Ha ha hai jazba
yeah, we have a passion..
Ho ho hai jazba
yeah, we have a passion..
Suljha lenge uljhe rishton ka manjha
We’ll untangle the string of relations..
Hm, ka manjha, hm, ka maanjha..
strings.. the strings..
Soyi takdeerein jaga denge
We’ll wake the sleeping fates,
Kal ko ambar jhuka denge
we’ll make the sky bow tomorrow..
Ha ha, hai jazba
yeah, we have the passion..
Ho ho, hai jazba
yeah, we have the passion..
Suljha lenge uljhe rishton ka manjha
We’ll untangle the string of relations..
Hmm maanjha..
the string..
Ho ho barfeeli aankhon mein
Oh, in icy eyes,
Pighla sa dekhenge hum kal ka chehra
we’ll see the face of tomorrow, melted..
Ho ho pathreele seene mein
In the rock hard chest,
Ubla sa dekhenge hum laava gehra
We’ll see deep boiling lava..
Agan lagi, Lagan lagi
There’s a fire within us, a devotion..
Toote na, toote na jazba ye toote na
Shouldn’t break, this passion within us shouldn’t break..
Magan lagi, Lagan lagi
There is a delight, a devotion..
Kal hoga kya, keh do
what will happen tomorrow, say
Kis ko hai parwaah
who cares about it..
Parwaah… parwah…
who cares.. who cares..

2 thoughts on “Manja

  1. Chandan says:

    It is such a beautiful song, that is a beautiful painting. You create such perfection with what you do Aarohi, be it the painting or the blog. It is so flattering to get mentioned in this space. truly.

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