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In defence of Darkness

"Whenever darkness is equated with ignorance, intolerance and prejudice along with all that is demonic and destructive, I am reminded of lord Krishna. Didn't he share the dark complexion of a demon...?"

Tulsidas Mishra : April 19, 2008

I am darkness. The contradiction of light. Its antonym. If light represents day, I symbolize night.  And the color that I best resemble is ‘black’.  They say I stand for all that is dreadful, devilish and detestable.  That is why perhaps the sages of Vedic age prayed “Tamashoma Jyotirgamaya--lead us from darkness to light”.

That way William Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ is also a deadly dramatization of this clash of darkness and light, black and white.  If coal black Othello is doubt, misgiving and jealousy incarnate, then ‘lily white’ Desdemona is the other name of beauty, simplicity and fidelity.  But in the climax it is not the run of the mill victory of light over darkness, rather a mutual dissolution.  Is that why it is called a ‘Tragedy’?

Whenever darkness is equated with ignorance, intolerance and prejudice along with all that is demonic and destructive I am reminded of lord Krishna.  Does not he share the dark complexion of a demon, even though he is a god?  But at the same time, unlike demons, does not he epitomize sublime love and as the narrator of Geeta, great wisdom as well? And what about goddess Kali who is also called ‘Shyamaa’ (dusky)? Her look and demeanor are of course demonic but she acts as the eliminator of evil, the destroyer of devil.  Needless to say, like Lakshmi, people worship her also on ’Deepavali’ day, lighting ‘diya’.

God said ‘let there be light, and there was light’. This is one side of the story. The other side is, whenever god has decided to take birth on earth, he has preferred dead of the night to broad daylight. Because, the savior needs protection from the tyrannical forces before he saves the world.  So lord Krishna chose the stormy and rainy night of Bhadrav and Christ opted for the silent and snowy December night.  The purpose was same.  Safe delivery and dispatch under the cloak of darkness.  For once god would have said, “let there be no light.”

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“If you want to make your place in the Sun, you have to come out of the shadow” Often I heard people tossing such inspirational lines. But what is true with gods is equally true with mortals as well. In human life also, there come occasions galore, when the last thing one wants is light. Instead, the desperate need of the hour is darkness. 

To start with, visualize that you stay in a glass house and you want to change.  So off goes the light and in comes the darkness.

Further, whether it is an amorous heart looking forward to a romantic rendezvous or a tormented soul trying to camouflage its guilt and sin, the preference is common, an ink black night.

Lovebirds like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha must have cursed each daybreak and celebrated each nightfall.

Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ also craved for darkness but for a totally different reason.  His unbridled ambition made him commit murders galore and he found himself trapped in a vortex of violence, vendetta and unwanted bloodletting. So at a climatic point of utter helplessness he yelled ‘put out the light.’

Though darkness is treated as the enemy of light, in reality darkness complements light.  The true worth, tenacity and intensity of light is proved only when it is dark all around.  Somebody has aptly said, “Darker the night, brighter shines the star.” On a different level, this is nothing but a vivid visualization of that often-quoted modern day motivational mantra “when the goings get tough, the tough get going.”

And when it comes to black colour, there also I have quite a few scores to settle.  Because a sweeping generalization is also there at work.  Due to a mindless segregation, all that is unlawful and wrong comes with a ‘black’ prefix.  Black money, black market, black magic, black sheep, black out etc. But tell me, is black that disagreeable? Do right and wrong have their specific colour? Then what about white lie, white elephants, I mean the sick industries that are the bane of a society, and above all, Whiteman’s burden that the coloured people of the world shouldered for centuries? If still some people think that the colour of purity is white and it is all daylight and has nothing to do with night, they better watch out.  Because all those flowers that bloom in the womb of night are invariably white.  All White.

But this Age of manufactured beauty and designer body will never cease to be pro-white and utter fair and lovely in one breath. No problem, next time when you meet someone obsessed with white, give him a mirror and point out an “imaginary strand” of white hair on his head.  There are all chances, without even checking, he will lapse into an instant depression and for once curse the misplaced white and miss and mourn the displaced black.  Unlike money, hair is one thing, which everybody asks all in black.  And today, like converting black money to white, transforming white hair to black too is an open secret.

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But coming to the concept of beauty, notwithstanding the general bias against dark complexion, it is a fact that, in all Ages dusky damsels have made a niche for themselves in the domain of beauty. Both Cleopatra and Draupadi had dark complexion.  That is why Draupadi was also called “Krishnaa”. And  see , what a great match maker is Vidhataa , who made Arjun her compatriot ! Because this Madhyam Pandav was also dark-complexioned. By the way , is this  affinity of color , one  of the reasons of  his proximity to lord Krishna as well ?

Further, if with her marble white complexion Madhubala was a vision of Venus, with her sizzling sensuality, dusky Smita Patil was Eros incarnate.

And on a different level, what was Amitabh Bachchan in his halcyon days, if not a flesh and blood translation of the mythical tall, dark, handsome knight in shining armor?.

Here for each angelic Aishwarya Rai there is a nymphet Nandita Das. For each Sonali there is a Kajol.  And if Aishwarya’s fans can kill for her, Nandita’s admirers too won’t mind to die for her.

So folks at the end of the day, it is dusk that you take home.  And hence, don’t you find this whole issue of apartheid stupid. Farcical. Meaningless too.  Because nothing is absolute, nothing is final.  White is black. Black is white. Light is darkness. Darkness is light.

(Author is an FTII (Pune) graduate in Direction. He writes Hindi Poems, Articles and Analysis pieces on various themes related to the world of Cinema and Entertainment)



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