Blog | October 2014

(Lost in the) Map of Happiness
Posted October 29, 2014     By Jitendra Suman

When I started writing this drama back in 2010-11, I was intrigued by the idea of “desire” and its role in human life. If you look in old ancient literature religious and secular both, you will find that a substantial portion of the flow of our mind is created and controlled by our desires, both sensory and non-sensory. Agreeing to this assumption, I came to the premise that psychologically a single desire could create a vision of a whole world and radiating from the center of that desire a complete life emerges in which everything seems determined once you start following your desire and that is how you create a map of your own fate. While following our desires we fail to see that our life has a much larger natural scheme both in terms of time and meaning and due to the ignorance of being under the spell of our desires we are confronted with two inevitable dilemmas in our life. First a feeling of deep discontent if our desires remain unfulfilled; we always remain stuck in the daydream of that lost world. And second, a feeling of meaninglessness after the fulfillment of our desires, when our real life appears in front of us, which seems very ambiguous or alien because we never concentrated on that. This inevitable trap appears in my character’s life through the deep feeling of incomprehensible sadness which creates a vision in which he is not living his life but he has lost himself in this ambiguous map.

My drama revolves around an event, while during one cold night a man characterized as “second man” comes upon a deserted railway station where he finds his train to Manikpur has been delayed by hours. While sitting waiting for his train on the long bench of the railway platform he interacts with five characters; first man, a salesman, a wandering sadhu (monk), a rickshaw puller and a joker. It’s not clear in the drama whether the second man is interacting with all these characters in reality or in a dream. But while interacting with these characters the second man starts reflecting upon his own life. As this reflection about his life is fraught with the feeling of anxiety and precipitance, this act turns out both comic and tragic.

Broadly defined as post-absurd, “Map of Happiness” allows for the recognition that life is not sensible, yet we still try to find some meaning with the help of non-scientific or non-rational aspects of human existence. Another example of such work in this genre is Jean-Claude Brisville’s French play "L'Entretien entre M. Descartes avec M. Pascal le jeune" (The dialogue between Mr. Descartes and the young Mr. Pascal) written in 1985. But in this age of anti-categorization we should try to refrain from juxtaposing creative works.

Regarding the enactment of the play, director Tanaji Rao said that it seemed challenging in the beginning to dramatize “Map of Happiness” as it lacks a traditional narrative event structure. In his opinion everything fluctuates repeatedly in a particular circumference. Inside this circumference things are happening in a transitory zone where both reality and dreams appear intermingled. Everything seems to be happening inside somebody’s mind and we start feeling that we are seeing a flow of consciousness which creates a crisis of visual and mental perception. Tanaji further stated that it is too soon to say that we have dramatized the whole script in its original soul, but that yes we are expecting during future enactments we will come closer.