Of the potential swan within

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 May 2018 11:24:22


By Vijay Phanshikar,





Eka talyaat hoti badake pile surekh
Hote kurup wede pillu tayaant ek
(Beautiful in a pond there were a few ducklings
Among them, however, there was an ugly underling)

Koni na tyaas ghei khelaawayaas sange
Sarwaanhuni niraale te wegale tarange
Daawuni bot tyaala mhanati hasun lok
Ahe kurup wede pillu tayaant ek
(No one asked him for play
Float it did alone all the way
Point did they fingers at it all along
And said, that’s an ugly underling)

Pillaas dukkh bhaari, bhole rade swathahshi
Bhaawnd na wichaari, saangel te kunaashi
Je te tayaas tochi daawi ugaach dhaak
Ahe kurup wede pillu tayaant ek
(Grieve did the li’le one n cried a lot
Siblings didn’t care, with whom to share its lot
Each one poked it and did cause hurt
And said, that’s an ugly underling)

Eke dini parantu pillaas tya kalaale
Bhay wed paar tyaache waarayaasawe palaale
Paanyaat paahataana choruniya kshanaik
Tyaachech tya kalaale, to raajahns ek
(One day, however, the little one knew itself
All its fears blew away with the wind
Stealing a look at self in water
It at once knew, it was a swan ...!)

- A famous Marathi song
by G. D. Madgulkar,
sung by Asha Bhosale.

IT’S everybody’s story. It can be anybody’s story.
Millions of times, the song has been heard. Millions of times, it has been cherished and relished. For, in those iconic expressions, everybody imagines his -- her -- own story. For, at one or the other point in life, everybody gets the feeling that he -- she -- is an ugly duckling, an underling. Life, at that moment, is at its worst, at its lowest, at its meanest.

But then, there is always a possible moment -- of stealing a look at one’s own reflection in water -- to know that the ugly duckling is actually a swan!
What a tremendous feeling it is! What a fantastic moment it must be!

The song, thus, gets to the deepest level of one’s emotion -- and stays put there -- giving one a strong realisation that any ugly duckling actually can be a swan, that graceful, beautiful bird which, as the legend says, can distinguish between water and milk.

Yes, in a way, each one of us has a swan hidden inside. Each one of us often connects with that swan embedded deep within. Each one, in an occasional flight of fancy, does take off -- as gracefully as does a swan, or swims across a placid, cool lake in the mind in a slow and steady gait that only a swan can achieve. That cadence that only the swan represents, thus, is a matter of everyone’s imagination. It is one’s self-image that has both the possibilities -- of truth, or of utter falsehood. Yet, each of us does harbour that self-image -- of a swan (and never of an ugly duckling, of course).

Each time the song Eka talyaat hoti badake pile surekh goes on air, it captivates the listeners, and captures everybody’s imagination, everybody’s very own idea of self and self’s mental idea. ‘Yes, I am that swan, and not the ugly duckling’ -- one says to oneself with fantastic conviction.

Unfortunately, however, that conviction -- about one’s own idea of self -- rarely emerges from the depths of mind. For, in the harsh actuality of life, something can be missing --
confidence about one’s own idea of self.

There lies the essence of life -- at the point of confidence in self, confidence of being a potential swan. But it is exactly at this point that most duck, though actually for no reason. But most do that and deny themselves the divine potential of being swans.

And because of this is the stark reality of life -- the missing confidence, faith, in oneself, most also avoid taking, stealing a good look at themselves at their own reflection in life’s mirror. That’s where most lose the track of the song and almost agree: Hote kurup wede pillu tayaant ek... as truth of life.

How unfortunate!