20th August 2021 Ms Vasanthi Arasoo
Have you ever waited patiently for hope to surface? This lonesome fisherman is in a calm lake looking into the deep waters with eyes full of hope. The calls of the gulls and egrets break the silence but not his hope. This beautiful painting is one that brings calmness into the heart.
We sometimes need a quiet corner to sit down, reflect on our lives and say a prayer of hope. Our emotions are lingering on a fine thread to find hope and peace in a world where disasters surround. Sometimes the difficulty of finding that quiet corner can rob that much needed moment of reflection and rejuvenation of the mind. However, in a fisherman’s life, where he is alone in the waters, that moment is aplenty.
Looking at Dr Beena’s calm and peaceful painting, it brings back memories of Inle Lake. The lake is located in the Shan Hills of Myanmar. It is the second largest lake in Myanmar that covers an area of around 44 square miles. The lake is calm, beautiful and serene with clear blue waters, floating plants and villages around it. The local villagers comprising mainly of Intha people practice self-sufficient water farming other than fishing. They live in simple wooden houses on stilts. What is interesting about the fishermen here is that they practice a unique rowing style where they stand in their little boats on one leg and wrap the other leg around an oar while they row with one leg.
Inle Lake supports all the nearby villages as their main source of food and transport. The staunch Buddhist community by the lake have built stupas and pagodas in their villages. A visit to the ruined stupas of Nyaung Ohak will uncover the pious lives of the hill devotees over the ages. This surreal jungle village of crumbling temples of at least a couple of centuries old reflect the culture of those times. One interesting artifact that is found on top of the doorway of the crumbled stupas is the mythical pair of celestial musicians known as Kinnara and Kinnari. This gleeful pair of musically paradigmatic lovers (in Hinduism and Buddhism) with human head and bird bodies is believed to come from the Himalayas and watch over the well-being of humans in times of trouble or danger. They seem to welcome visitors to the ruined stupas. Being everlasting lovers, they do fill the visitors’ hearts with love and hope. The Inle Lake with its mystical surroundings and quiet residents brings one to a journey into the past, their beliefs and hopes.
In the same manner, this painting of a lonesome fisherman in his little boat is one filled with richness of the soul where the glaring beauty of nature is so unbelievably astounding and magical. There is so much to cherish from the water, sky, gentle breeze, sunlight and joy of an unexpected catch. However, to the simple fisherman, it is a daily grind to put some food on the table. It is hours of toil and exhaustion. Life goes on with a renewal of hope each day.
In the words of Bernard Williams, “There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” May the hopelessly devoted Kinnara and Kinnari mystically accompany all lonesome fishermen, uplift their spirits and provide hope for a better tomorrow.