The second day of Dhvani saw the performance of H. S Venkateshmurty’s one-woman play Oormila by Sheetal Bhat, a first year MA student at MCPH. Moving between characters effortlessly, a young Sheetal Bhat captured the varying threads of human emotions spread across the play and wove them together into a rich tapestry of unanswered questions.
The prince of Ayodhya, Rama is leaving for the forest. His wife Sita accompanies him in exile and so does his younger brother Lakshmana. Oormila, Lakshmana’s wife is left behind in the palace. While most literature around the Ramayana focuses on Rama and Sita’s love and Lakshmana’s devotion, Oormila’s lament is not part of the larger photograph, and even if it is, it is only is only a blurry, undeveloped negative. She begs the upholder of the Aryan tradition, Lakshmana to stay back at Ayodhya, or to let her be part of his journey. She reminds him of the vows of marriage that had woven them together. Lakshmana is unflustered. Her pleas are shattered and diffuse into oblivion. A childless Oormila is left to fend for herself. The trees become her children, the forests, her home. In an evocative soliloquy, Oormila questions the dharma that guards Lakshmana’s actions.
Fourteen years have gone by. Flowers have bloomed, flowers have wilted. As the city of Ayodhya is rejoicing at the return of the heroes of the Aryan clan, Oormila has to now confront Lakshmana. She berates him for abandoning her in the name of Dharma, for thwarting her desire to live, for leaving her childless and in agony. She shifts between anger and helplessness, between mock laughter and tears, letting us into what became her world after Lakshmana’s departure.
As the bright yellow lights faded into the dimness of the evening, Oormila is huddled on the edge of the stage, her limbs drawn close to her writhing body, mumbling about the sleepless nights she spent without her lover, in the arms of the forest. An instant later, she turns, only to realize that indeed it has been a soliloquy. Like a thief at midnight, Lakshmana has once again left her midway in conversation.
Report by: Sharmada Shastry
Photography: Sissi Hamann