Easter symbolises for me the spirit of living beings resurrecting themselves, thereby embodying newness and heralding fresh beginnings
My obsessive admiration for the honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, the flapper detective conceived by Kerry Greenwood who solves crime in 1920s Melbourne, Australia, was the subject of my very first mid-day column. I was besotted by her feminist ways, her adventurous spirit, and her capacity for self-awareness. But I guess I had my blinkers on when I was swallowing the whole first season. I failed to see the one thing that made her truly stand out from all her other detective counterparts in the history of the genre: her propensity towards unbridled joy. Unlike the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes, who she is often compared to, Miss Fisher is unabashedly on the side of the living. It was only recently when I read an article about her that I realised that what made her truly unique was her epicurean nature. That is possibly what draws me most to her.
It is the season when the frangipani blooms and transcends. Like it, the quest for transcendence must drive us
I am an epicurean. I derive my greatest delight from the pursuit of pleasure. I love to feast and I love to facilitate the act of feasting. I was raised Catholic, but I never quite took to the sermon of abstinence and restraint as much as to this one diktat by Christ, proclaimed in John’s gospel, “I have come to give you life, life in all its abundance.” I hold it as dearly as I do the new commandment that he preached, to love one another as he loved. I understand that the crucifixion had to happen in order for the resurrection to transpire, but I am more inclined towards celebrating the latter, not wholly in a Catholic way, but as a gesture of welcoming the season of spring.
Yesterday morning, I was conducting a phone interview with the celebrated artist, Himmat Shah, who has been based out of Jaipur for a couple of years. I was asking him about the title of his ongoing retrospective at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, The Hammer on the Square, which is derived from a sculptural piece by him of a square framework upon one side of which is cast a hammer. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘it was a reminder of how every now and then our minds need to be jolted out of the state they are often in, of a kind of sedated conformity.’ The sculpture was meant to be about breaking out of the mould we allow ourselves to rest in and possibly transcending ourselves.
Of all the seasons there are, spring is the most fruitfully poetic. I have been witnessing this first-hand from my kitchen window; the frangipani tree visible through there had shed its leaves over the course of winter, leaving behind a barren nakedness. Over the past few weeks I have seen the branches about to sprout and finally sprouting. New leaves have come into being, and two days ago, a flower started to blossom. Come April, it’ll be redolent with fragrant white flowers. It will have transcended.
If anything, that ought to be what drives us: the quest for transcendence. And that is what I understand Easter to symbolise: the spirit of living beings resurrecting themselves, thereby embodying newness and the heralding of fresh beginnings.
This year, I’ve vowed to make it all about joy. The world experiences more than its fair share of suffering everyday. The papers and our Facebook newsfeeds are regular reminders of all the complex problems we have created for ourselves: terrorism, fascism, climate change, drought, to mention just a current few. We have all embraced the culture of reaction, when we ought to be espousing the age-old tradition of response. To react is to allow oneself to succumb to the knee-jerk instinct. To respond requires a more meditative stance, it demands a certain amount of empathy.
Which is why, after much indecision, I chose to get out and celebrate Holi. I’m en route to Deer Park to bask in the sun, to mingle with the friends I love most, and to generally rejoice. Despite this being a long weekend, I’m staying put in Delhi so I can prepare for Sunday’s feast, where I shall toast to all that is bountiful and immense, to new life and new joys.
Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D’Mello is a reputed art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org