Choma’s Drum And Unoka’s Flute

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Literature, Musings, Soliloquy)

Chomana Dudi and Things Fall Apart: these are two novels written by two different authors of two different languages from two different cultures and in different times.

Chomana Dudi (Dudi meaning Drum) was written by Shivarama Karantha in Kannada somewhere in 1930’s and Things Fall Apart was written by the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe in English somewhere in 1950’s.

Both the novels speak about a single person and thus unfold the entire community to which the protagonist belongs. Other than this what I found similar in these two novels is the relationship that Choma of Chomana Dudi shares with his Dudi or Drum and the relationship that Unoka (protagonist Okonkwo’s father) and his flute.

Choma plays his drum to forget his agony and for the ventilation for his frustration. Unoka plays his flute when he is melancholic. Music is a part of their life. It re-energizes them it acts as a stress buster and also gives them liberty from gravitation.

Karanth’s novel ends saying “The hand that was lifted to beat the drum, the frustration in his eyes everything existed, but not Choma”. Choma dies as he is playing his Drum.

Unoka catches an irremediable disease which would spread to others if he is let to live in the village. So, he is sent to the forest. When he dies, he will have to die all alone and his body should turn into soil, there in the forest itself, says the village norms. And while going to the forest, Unoka takes his flute along with him and nothing else. Then, there is no mention about Unoka in the novel. He, we understand, dies with his flute.

Musing over the death of Choma with the Drum in his hand and Unoka with the flute in his hand, I ask myself: what is that to which I am so attached which is so much a part of me, which I would like to take to my death? I can think of nothing! So, does that mean I haven’t loved anything so intensely? If I haven’t loved anything so intensely, is it true that I have lived a life in its real meaning?

18 November 2008

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