Ever since my childhood, I have been fascinated towards Russia. It was my dream to visit Russia (USSR or Soviet Union at the then time). But despite being married to a navigation officer and travelling to many parts of the world in merchant ships, my dream to visit Russia never came true. My love for Russian nestable dolls is equally archaic.
I read about them in a Russian magazine called ‘Sputnik’, which I subscribed as a kid. I always wanted to possess an authentic set of ‘Matryoshka Dolls’ in my kitty.Later, I even named my daughter Maitreni, (nickname-Maitri) after Matryoshka (name of the Russian village where the dolls are made) or Matryona (a graceful lady in Russian). Though, the name ‘Maitreni’ is derived from Sanskrit (from an Upanishad called ‘Maitrayani’), it sounds quite like Russian.
A couple of years back, my younger brother, a captain in merchant navy, visited Russian shores and bought this genuine Matryoshka doll set for me from a ship-chandler. It has been handmade from a single block of wood and then hand painted intricately. What I find so special about these nesting dolls is, they remind me of a woman’s multi-faceted personality and her ability to multi-task and manage various relationships simultaneously.
My today’s tanka expresses a woman’s feelings for how she accepts multiple challenges in life, yet she has to prove her mettle according to people’s expectations. And sadly, how she hides her own self inside, to prove herself right, just like these Matryoshka dolls!
Treasure trove of personas
She combines them all,
The masqueraded beauty
Or the enshrouded majesty
— Sangeeta Mishra
Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry containing 31 syllables in 5 lines composed of 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count normally evoking human emotions.