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The Futility Of Suraya's Siren Song

943 words - 4 pages

Amidst the glittery throng of South-Asian Literature, Nadeem Aslam’s Maps For Lost Lovers rises to a stature of its own. Aslam, in his novel, builds characters whose lives revolve around a plethora of symbols. These symbols not only help in deciphering all of his characters, but it also adds depth and substance to their personalities. The three-dimensional nature of these characters, uncovers their complexity. Interestingly, these abstract symbols and signs can be linked to the ancient tradition of folklore and mythology. Suraya, one of Nadeem Aslam’s characters, is of an elusive, intangible and mysterious nature. She tempts Shamas and Charag with her beauty; and it is precisely this attribute of her character that can directly be linked to mythology itself. Thus, the main premise of this response is to proclaim Suraya as the Siren in Nadeem Aslam’s text.

Like the swerving sirens, which are alluring creatures in Greek Mythology, Suraya meanders into the lives of the men in Dasht-e-Tanhaii. Suraya’s first encounter with Charag is that of a naked woman dripping of water, like a Siren. It is one of the many beautiful symbols in this novel. There are two essential aspects of this encounter, which should be viewed in juxtaposition with Greek Mythology. First, Sirens lived on an island and were beautiful creatures with wings, who had the bodily form of women. Their sole purpose was to lure any passing sailors by their mesmerizing songs. Their enthralling songs primarily enchanted the sea men in a state of intoxication, and they crashed into cliffs which were located around the water body of the island, leading them to destruction. Similarly, Suraya, like a siren, met Charag and Shamas, in the guise of a temptress, around the flowing presence of water; and tried to intoxicate and lure them towards herself. Interestingly, through this juxtaposition of a siren to Suraya, both of these characters can be compared in their representation. The second aspect of this comparison is how a siren is a beautiful, lustrous creature and correspondingly, so is Suraya. She’s described in the text as a woman with, “her hair floating in the water, curly and heavy- looking like sea-weed” (Aslam 130). Another description of her runs along the lines of, “She…is extremely beautiful to him,” (Aslam 131). When Aslam narrates that Charag’s fingers get “tangled in her long tresses,” (Aslam 130) it is not just a mere idle statement, it has a deeper meaning; because the men do get “tangled” in her beauty, especially Shamas.

Shamas’s meeting with Suraya is also on the riverbank. It gives her character an indefinable mythical quality, which considerably adds to her mystery. Nadeem Aslam carefully wrote the scenes with Suraya, because they have a strange dream-like quality to them. Her...

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