Saturday, December 6, 2008


Pain stumbling alike novice
Exhibiting itself in eyes
Pain running smoothly
Stealing each fall and rise
Pain making dumb-founded speak
Pain making speaker dumb-founded
Pain treasuring into memory
Pain- a memory untreasured
Pain getting stronger on exploration-
Pain alleviating itself on perforation
Pain- a hungry volcano
Pain- a thirsty cataract
Pain –When a baby is born
Pain – when a man dies
Pain – When Journey commences
Pain – When Journey reaches to ultimate goal

Being all drenched in pain
Is something like an aroma
Or a pleasant rain
Being all drenched in pain means
To live in draught
Without rain!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rhythms of Life by Nilakshi Borgohain, Delhi: B.R. Publishing corporation, 2008, ISBN-81-7646-640-9, Rs. 145/- pages-93. Reviewed by Dr Shaleen Kumar

Nilakshi Borgohain is a versatile genius who writes short stories, poems, travel articles and features to reputed magazines like Namaskar, Jetwings and India Perspective. She is a senior reporter and columnist whose first collection of short stories Streets of Fear was published from Minarva Press UK and the present collection Rhythms of Life is her second venture in the realm of Indian English short fiction.
Actually, Indian English critics have the world wide tendency of considering short story as the step-child of literature. It is also true that ‘this form is the most suitable to record the variety and nuance of Indian experience’ and unlike Indian Novel in English it has not to dealt with limited themes like ‘National Movement of Indian independence, The Contrary influences of Tradition and Westernization on individual and the place of faith in Indian life.’ But it has recorded wider experiences and multitudinous sensibilities in it self and has revealed India more than Indian English novels and plays.
It is also lamentable that despite its wider possibilities, this genre has been neglected by the critics and they have not encouraged the short story writers to their satisfaction. And yet, in the past few years, the emergence of short story writers in as well as the hearty welcome of the critics and readers has enfeebled this fact. Nilakshi Borgohain’s second collection Rhythms of Life is a compilation of short stories written between 2003-2006 and this collection should also be welcomed as it asserts:
The music may not always remain flawless, but as long as we have firm conviction that our uniqueness is a blessing, the blissful melody of life continues. (Blurb)
These ten short stories should also be taken in notice as they ‘reaffirm our faith that the greatest joy in life still spring from the sprit of being true to our selves’ and they ‘effectively emphasize that the significance of being is appreciating our place in the cosmos for the every situation is an occasion worth celebrating life.’ In this collection, the title of each story is subtitled with a quotation or wise thought like the first story ‘The Garden of Abundance’ with subtitled ‘Life is Beautiful If Lived Possitibly’ or the second story ‘A Local’ has the subtitle ‘Universal Brotherhood could result from the Universal understanding of all culture’ or ‘For Passion’ has the subtitle ‘falling in Love is Most Sublime’. In nutshell, each story is adorned with a message of universal love, peace and brotherhood. The optimistic vision of the short story writer has empowered her to relay a universal message to one and all.
Thus these stories need a close perusal and meditation as they not only wider our horizons of thought but also create a deep insight in us. I personally thank and welcome the author in the arena of Indian English Short fiction as well as expect more tales from her.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger -A Mirror of Delhi Life by Shaleen Kumar Singh

The White White Tiger of Aravind Adiga is a captivating story and an authentic account by a journalist of Time magazine in Delhi so, it encapsulates in itself ‘economic growth, the Burgeoning of an aggressively consumerist’, call centre, an IT class, predatory capitalism, rampant corruption, greed, inhumanity, absolute inequality of class, caste, wealth and religion and of course, the lively and realistic picture of metro life. Adiga has a finely alert eye and ear of a journalist, so his narrations are realistic, humorous, ironical and satirical. Adiga has served as correspondent for Time magazine, The Financial Times, and MSNBC in Delhi and has experienced the pulse of contemporary India peeping through the window of New Delhi the capital of the largest democratic nation of the world. Actually, Adiga’s novel is a confession and a series of seven letters written over seven nights by a ‘self taught entrepreneur’ called Balram Halwai or the White Tiger of the title. He addresses ‘himself with comic bumptiousness to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao about whom he has learned is coming on a fact finding mission to Bangalore, this once cowed and unworthy servant wants to show the August foreign dignitary, the true entrepreneurial spirit of the country’ as well as the soft and carefree life of the upper class and the hard, grim and pathetic life of the lower class. Here the comment of Andrew Holgate deserves mention when he says:
Hardly there is anything in this book escapes scathing comment. Democracy is a corrupt sham, big business hand- in glove with arrogant, overweight politicians. Prostitution is endemic, as is poverty, which insinuates itself into the cracks of the New Delhi streets and suppurates just out of sight in old city. In one memorable scene, Balram beginning to unravel, emotionally, stumbles upon a slum and finds himself confronted by a line of men defecating almost as it they are adding to a wall of waste that divides them from the modern world beyond. (Holgate)

Though the story teller Balram Halwai is born in a village in the dark heart of India, in the house of a rickshaw puller, yet he lives in the city of Bangalore and talks of the city of Delhi. In the words of Balram, Adiga writes about his story:
Like all good Bangalore stories mine begins far away from Bangalore. You see, I am in the light now, but I was born and raised in Darkness. (14)

Besides, commencing from Bangalore Adiga widens his vision and sketches the picture of modern India- and says:
Please understand, Your Excellency, that India is two countries in one: an India of light and an India of darkness. The ocean brings light to my country. Every place on the map of India near the ocean is well-off. But the river brings darkness to India- the black river. (14)

And from there, he continues discussing about ‘the village of Laxmangrah, in the district of Gaya- the town where Lord Buddha sat under a tree and found enlightenment and started Buddhism which then spread to the whole world including China and other cities like Dhanbad, Calcutta and Delhi keeping the inequality among classes and inescapable truth that the benefits of India’s remarkable economic success are not dispersed fairly side by side. Especially Delhi life is primarily to be noticed where this inequality is visible fairly. When at first, Adiga talks of Delhi life in the novel in his conversation with Wen Jiabo, he says:
Now since I doubt that you have rickshaw pullers in China-or in any other civilized nation on earth-you will have to see one for yourself. Rickshaws are not allowed inside the posh parts of Delhi, where foreigner might see them and gape. Insist on going to old Delhi, or Nizamuddin-there you’ll see the road full of them-thin, sticklike men, leaning forward from the seat of a bicycle, as they pedal along a carriage bearing a pyramid of middle-class flesh-some fat man with his fat wife and all their shopping bags and groceries. (27)

Besides, there are innumerable examples given by Adiga which give graphic pictures of the busy life of Delhi -from the ‘Hotel Sheraton’ the finest in Delhi where ‘late night drinking’ and accidents are so common, ‘the rich people living’ in ‘big housing colonies like ‘Defense Colonies, or Greater Kailash or Vasant Kunj’ and inside their colonies the house having numbers and letters. ‘But this numbering and lettering system’ follows no known system of logic. Delhi is the place where all the roads look the same, all of them go around and around grassy circle’ ‘where men are sleeping, or playing cards, and then four more roads go off from it. So people ‘just keep getting lost and lost, and lost in Delhi. (119)
At another place the miserable lives of the poor living by the sides of the road are visible in the novel:
Thousands of people live on the sides of the road in Delhi. They have come from the darkness too-you can tell by their thin bodies, filthy faces, by the animal like way they live under the huge bridges and overpasses, making fires and washing and taking lice out of their hair while the cars roar past them. These homeless people are a particular problem for drivers. They never wait for a red light-simply dashing across the road on impulse. And each time I baked to avoid slamming the car into one of them, the shouting would start from passenger’s seat.”(120)

The narration of Adiga has brought many Environmental, Social, Cultural, Political and Moral drawbacks before the people. Traffic Jam, Corruption and Pollution are such problems which are chiefly tackled by Adiga. The life of the people of Delhi is devoid of time but is full of pollution, corruption, ‘cars, scooters, motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, black taxies, jostling for space on the road.’ The pollution is so bad that the men on the motorbikes and scooters have a handkerchief wrapped around their faces- and …..’There’ is ‘a good reason for the face masks, they say air is so bad in Delhi, that it takes ten years off a man’s life’. (133)
The people cannot breathe outside the car rather the people sitting in car breathe ‘just nice, cool, clean, air-conditioned air’. The traffic jam a common problem of Delhi and NCR is also mirrored by the novelist clearly:
There was a fierce jam on the road to Gurgaon every five minutes the traffic would tremble we’d move a foot-hope would rise-then the red lights would flash on the cars ahead of me, we’d be stuck again. Everyone horned every now and then, the various horns, each with its own pitch, blended into one continuous wail that sounded like a calf taken from its mother. Fumes filled the air, wisps of blue exhaust glowed in front of every headlight, the exhaust grew so fat and thick it could not rise or escape, but spread horizontally, sluggish and glossy, making a kind of fog around us. Matches were continually being struck-the drivers of auto-rickshaws lit cigarettes, adding tobacco pollution to petrol pollution. (137)

The plights of the poor persons who have migrated from villages (from the darkness of) to capital to find some light are also captured by the novelist. These village-people, the seekers of material pleasures have got nothing in the city and they are ‘still in the darkness’, in which Hundreds of them, there seemed to be, on either side of the traffic, and their life was entirely unaffected by the jam.
While on the other hand the picture of realistic lives of the rich is no loss interesting:
The rich of Delhi, to survive the winter, keep electrical heaters, or gas heaters, or even burn logs of wood in their fireplaces. When the homeless, or servants like night watchmen, want to keep warm, they burn whatever they find on the ground. One of the best things to put in the fire is cellophane, the kind used to wrap fruits, vegetables, and business books in inside the flame, it changes its nature and melts into a clear fuel. The only problem is that while burning, it gives off a white smoke that makes your stomach churn.” (157)

Adiga has with equal interest portrayed the bordom of rich person’s life, the people living in big apartments and colonies, roaming in Honda city or Marcedez Benz or eating continental dishes in Five Star Restaurants have become ostantions and have lost the simplicity and easy going attitudes towards life. Mr. Ashok, the Delhite’s following comment proves the fact:
I am sick of the food, I eat, Balram. I ‘m sick of the life I lead. We rich people, we have lost our way, Balram. I want to be a simple man like you Balram.” (238)
Adiga has observed both New and Old Delhi minutely. So he has painted both the dark and light colours of Delhi. On the one hand he discusses ‘The light’ the city, the call centers, high tech areas, big Hotels, sky-kissing buildings of New Delhi while on the other hand the dark sides of Old Delhi and its places and people, as well as the reality and hollowness behind the colorful lives of the residents of New Delhi is also brought to light. Adiga when sketches New Delhi, he writes:
Delhi-we had got to Delhi…..The capital of our glorious nation. The seat of Parliament, of the president, of all ministers and prime ministers. The pride of our civic planning. The showcase of the republic. That’s what they call it. (118)


Now, PVR Saket is the scene of a bog cinema, which shows ten or twelve films of the same time, and charges over a hundred and fifty rupees per film –yes; that, right, hundred and fifty rupees! That’s not all: you’ve also got plenty of places to drink beer, dance, pick up girls, that sort of thing. A small bit of America in India.” (204)

Now Delhi is full of grand hotels. …but in pomp and splendor, we’re second to none in Delhi. We’re got the Sherton, the Imperial, the Taj palace, Taj Mansingh, the Oberoi, the Inter-Continental and many more.” (200)
At the same time, he sketches the dark side of New Delhi and writes: Thousands of people live on the sides washing and taking lice out of their while the cars roar past them.” (120) Besides, the corruption rampant among the people of Delhi as well as the pathetic lives of drivers is no less interestingly and humorously captured by the author:
The main thing to know about Delhi is that the roads are good, and the people are bad. The police are totally rotten. If they see you without the seat belt, you’ll have to bribe them a hundred rupees. Our masters are not such a great lot, either. When they go for their late-night parties, it’s hell for us. You sleep in the car, and the mosquitoes eat you alive. (124)

At another place, he writes a realistic observation of corrupt Delhi-life:
Every day, on the roads of Delhi, some chauffeur is driving an empty car with a black suitcase sitting on the backseat. Inside that suitcase is a million, two million rupees, more money than that chauffeur will see in his lifetime. If he took the money he could go to America, Australia, anywhere, and start a new life. (174)

The pictures of Old India is no less interesting in the narrations of Adiga. The wanderings of the author in the old Delhi are narrated by the author in a pictorial manner.
…. I wandered further into old Delhi. I had no idea where I was going. Everything grew quiet the moment I left the main road. I saw some men sitting on a charpoy smoking, others lying on the ground and sleeping; eagles flew above the houses. Then the wind blew an enormous gust of buffalo into my face. (255)

He continues his narrations further:
Everyone knows there is a butchers’ quarter somewhere in Old Delhi, but not many have seen it. It is one of the wonders of the old city -a row of open sheds, and big buffaloes standing in each shed with their butts towards you, and their tails swatting flies away like windshield wipers, and their feet deep in immense pyramids of shit. I stood there, inhaling the smell of their bodies-it had been so long since I had smelled buffalo! The horrible city air was driven out of my lungs.” (255)

Adiga at a place takes both the cities, old and new together and compares them with each other in realistic tone:
… Mr. Premier, that Delhi is the capital of not one but two countries-two India’s. The Light and the Darkness both flow in to Delhi. Gurgaon, where Mr. Ashok lived, is the bright, modern end of the city, and this place. Old Delhi is the other end. Full of things that the modern world forget all about rickshaws, old stone buildings and Muslims. On a Sunday, though, there is something more: if you keep pushing through the crowd that is always there, go past the men clearing the other men’s ears by poking rusty metal rods into them, past the men selling small fish trapped in green bottles full of brine, past the cheap shoe market and the cheap shirt market, you come great secondhand book market Darya Ganj. (252)

The characters are the tools of Adiga by which he controls and relays this thoughts mingling, irony, humour and satire. This tacking of Adiga not only creates a fictional world but also deeps into the realistic life of people. Balram Halwai, the person journeying from rags to riches observes each and every aspects of life, muses over them and even derides the fate and our Nation, and later on learns non lessons each day. Andrew Holgate’s comment is right when he states:
Irony, paradox and anger run like a poison through every page of Balram’s commentary.

The uncertainty of metros is also portrayed well by Adiga he sees people in rags turning into multi-millionaire within a night, or a billionaire into a beggar within seconds. It is a city of possibilities and impossibilities. Both are tacked by Adiga equally:
But Delhi is a city where civilization can appear and disappear within five minutes. On either side of us right now there was just wilderness and rubbish. (281)

At another place, addressing the Chinese Premier he says:
It was the hour of sun set. The birds of the city began to make a row as they flew home. Now Delhi, Mr. Premier, is a big city, but there are wild places in it-big parks, protected forests, stretches of waste land- and things can suddenly come out of these wild places. (201)

Actually man and the metro Delhi are interconnected, each one has affected the other and at times it appears that man has not only lost his originality rather has degraded and debased himself and cannot escape his decline, and this declination corruption continues in chains for top to bottom. The comment of Balram Halwai the driver is worth menlionary here.
All these changes happened in me because they happened first in Mr.Ashok. He returned from America an innocent man, but life in Delhi corrupted him and once the master of Honda city becomes corrupted, how can the driver stay innocent. (197)

Thus, by sketching vividly the metro life of Delhi, much alike an manner of journalist. Adiga wishes probably to propound that the people who are claiming India as ‘shining’, ‘democratic’, ‘prosperous’, ‘corruption-free’ classless or castles have to review their own assertions. It paints a graphic and disturbing picture of Delhi life in the strikingly different cultures that comprise Modern India. Another realist image of the Nation may create unrest among pseudo-politicians or pseudo-idealists but will touch the hearts of a humanist. David Mattin’s comment is worth noticing:
Arch-defenders of India’s claim to be truly democratic, even-handedly prosperous and corruption-free (and these must be few outside of the Indian cabinet) might balk at The White Tiger. Everyone else surely, will be seduced by it.

The novel has successfully drawn the picture of Modern India where promises are yet to be fulfilled and we have miles to go before such fake declarations- Lee Thomas is right when she says:
… Adiga depicts the Modern Indian dilemma as unique, intense family loyalties and culture of servitude clash with the unfulfilled promises of democracy. (Thomas)

Especially the financial of the Nation is the prime concern for the novelist. Richard Marcus’s comment deserves mention here:
Call centres and burgeoning IT class does.nt hide the inequities that still exist in Indian society or that huge numbers of people still live in poverty so about that we would’nt even begin to comprehend its depth.(Marcus)

Despite all false proclamations one cannot brush aside the fact that India has yet to win many fights with poverty, corruption and equality. Nakul Krishna seems aright when we see his comment:
The novel, serve as a manifesto for the sort of writing that the new India needs but isn’t getting enough of. (Krishna)
Again, one cannot stay away from the reality of our India stricken with the ailments of greed, corruption, inhumanity and absolute-of class, caste, wealth, religion’-and the present novel is nothing but the peeling off of the mask of false face of ‘India shining’. Neel Mukarjee rightly observes, “What Adiga lifts the lid on is also inexorably true: not a single detail in this novel rings false or feels confected. The White Tiger is an excoriating piece of work, stripping away the veneer of ‘India Rising’. (Mukharjee)
Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that The White Tiger is a realistic mirror of contemporary India in which one can look at the another world which is still untouched or deliberately not touched by those claimants of India shining or India rising towards New millennia, and metro life of Delhi is a window from one can estimate the state of entire Nation. The novel has successfully proved that despite being a growing economy and super power on one hand India has her inhabitants poor still and Delhi is small part of the Nation from where one presume the state of entire Nation.

· Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger. Harper Collins, 2008. (All the textual references are from this book)
· Holgate, Andrew, “The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga,” 16 June 2008. 12 Nov. 2008.
· Krishna, Nakul. “Getting and Spending” Book review of The White Tiger 2 May 2008. 14 Nov. 2008. <>
· Mattin, David. “The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga”, 11 May 2008. 12 Nov. 2008. -figer-by-Aravind-adiga-823472>
· Marcus, Richard. “Book Review: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga”, 2 May 2008. 14 Nov. 2008. <>
· Mukharjee, Neel. “Book Review: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga”, 27 March 2008.14Nov.2008. <>
· Thomas, Lee. “The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga”, 27 April 2008. 12 Nov. 2008. <>

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


“Hope” is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops-at all-“ (Dickinson 254)

Undoubtedly, Hope is the thing which perches in the soul of poets and usually seen in their outpourings empowering both the poets and the readers. In fact, ‘Hope’ has been the last weapon of a poet who loses all courage and zeal in his combat with toils, trails, troubles and tribulations of everyday life. It is the spring of poets’ inspiration that ever infuses vigour and zeal into their veins. Poets of all ages who motivate the entire mankind are always surcharged with the energy of hope and their poetic outpourings remain clad in the garb of new vigour, zeal and enthusiasm even in the darkest hour of dejection, disappointment and despondency. To Emily Dickinson, ‘Hope’ is something ‘that perches in soul/ and sings the tune without words’ but to Stephen Gill it is a constant companion in the seasons of pains and pleasures and it symbolically ‘sings lullabies/ in the morning’ and welcomes him ‘with a flower of dreams.’ ‘The Maid of Hope’ remains with the poet day in and day out, so he writes:
When I collect
The beads of my thoughts
She scatters them
And when I am upset
She shows skies
Through the window
Of the future. (Shrine 147)
It is nothing but the silver lining of hope in the abysmal darkness of uncertainty which drives the poet back on the shore of liveliness and infuses new zeal into him as well as ‘emerges /as sun in the void of solitude to dispel ‘the birds of depression.’ Stephen Gill’s poetry, though a protest against the global terrorists, fanatics and the enemies of peace; reaches sometimes the Nadir of melancholy and gloom, yet it never deviates from its path of delivering a universal message of peace and brotherhood because the poet remains hopeful unto the last. He is well- aware of the thing called hope from the very inception of his life when he ‘was growing up in Delhi’ in the atmosphere of riots and clashes. Remembering those days, he says:
I have experienced their stings. I know what fear is in the jungle of helplessness. I know what hope is when there is no hope. (Flame 26)
Or, at another place when he seems searching hope and finding it in poetry, he says:
To find hope I traced, riches, education, faiths and many other things. I tried to see the face of hope in political ideologies, including Marxism, Nazism and Dictatorship….To take the root of fear out, I took a long and painful journey of efforts. … Writing particularly poetry is one way to do that. Poetry is my refuge and my helper to help others to be aware of the enemies of peace.” (Flame 27)
Here, if we read between the lines, we will find that the poet traced hope in riches, education and faith but later on found it in the refuge of poetry or say, poetry became the treasure-trove of hope for Stephen Gill at last. And if we look at his poetry objectively, we will find hope has been cocoon that has woven the entire canvas of his poetry. Dr. George Hines admits the presence of hope in many of his poems, so he says:
Many poems express frustrations, sorrow, regret and despondency because of the present state of man and the world, but other poems express hope in better future.” (SGHW 90)
His comment is also worth quoting when he says:
Although the poet shows keen awareness of man’s personal and global problems in his poems of hope, he feels that they will be resolved, that life is always improving and will be better in the future, and that a fresh dawn with an unclouded sky is approaching. (SGHW 91)
The fascinating and mature talent of Stephen Gill which is marked with optimism, hope, vigour, zeal, enthusiasm, faith, reliance and assurance require comprehensive appraisal so that the future poets and critics may know what poetry is and what poetry should be. The vision of Gill is imbued with the hope for peace, hope for love, hope for harmony and hope for a new and better world where naked dance of maniac messiahs does not torment the humanity, ‘where waves snuggles sand/ and soul is free, where the horns of life/ are not entangled in the bushes/ of the zealots…/ where the cactus of shame/ does not mushroom/ and the evils birds of the bloodshed/ do not defile the nest..’ ‘the dove flies without fear/ and the lilies of justice blossom for all’, where the streams of youth/ do not cease flowing/ and despair does not nail tents/over the greenery of the dreams’, ‘where love is not suffocated/ and twigs are not damaged/ by the trotting swarm of savages…’ and ‘where creeds are not crushed/ and human Gods do feed/ the vultures of war…’ (Flame 146)
His collection The Flame is nothing but a realization- conscious or unconscious that ‘hope is still alive under the sun’ and the last canto of the book gives plenty of examples of hope after the symbolic story of Zeus, a Greek God who handed over a box ‘containing pain, bloodshed, fear, economic strangulation to Pandora with a forbiddance to opening it. But it was unfortunately opened by her and the contents of the box called ‘pain, bloodshed, fear, economic strangulation, anguish and suffering began to roam in the world,’ but again one can observe the following comment of Gill when he relates this symbolic story and seems hopeful:
All that was left was hope. Eventually it was also let out of that box. Expression of hope is in the last canto of The Flame. (Flame 24)
The Flame is the magnum opus of peace. Although, it is the longest poem in English on modern terrorism, it is also the most potent and sacred poetic offering to Goddess of peace. The book mirrors the naked dance of maniac messiahs as to how these openers of this Pandora’s box roam in the world in every shape to cause as much destruction as possible’. He adds:
They go to universities, do usual business, greet their neighbors, smile, shake hands, eat and do everything as normal human beings. The next moment, they are seen killing citizens with the rage of their guns and explosives, killing even themselves. (Flame 24)
On the other hand, the book also propagates the message of peace and non-violence in an equal potent manner when Gill says:
The eternal flame knows no occupation, faith nor complexion and cannot be imprisoned within human bonds. It has engulfed millions, whose names can be traced in every age and land. This flame is known to engulf mortals even today, melting unknown metals into one. (Flame 28)
Hope is really sprinkler of peace in the dark cloudy nights and a potent vocalization of the eternal human value of peace. Again, ‘it is the binding force, for families, plants/every atom/ and every part of every individual.’ The Flame is the light of hope in the darkness of dejection. It provides solace in private agonies and binds people together with the cord of unity. Here, hope has been creeping in a calm manner throughout the poem and energizes constantly the poet even when he feels entirely shattered and disappointed while sketching the picture of modern terrorism. Despite all the dismal and ugly pictures of the present day world hag-ridden by terrorism and violence, The Flame has countless references where one can find Gill full of optimism, hopes and vision of better tomorrow. Here the comment of Helen Bar-Lev, a prominent poet and artist from Israel is significant to quote:
The Flame is a poem of tenderness, incomprehension, longing, anger, hope, and sadness. It is a poem which gives all the reasons for peace, and also the reasons we do not have it. Were there more Stephen Gills in this world. (Bar-Lev 5)
The poet seems brimming with optimism when he forbids to ‘ Let the arrows of despair’ hurt him and challenges ‘if/The clouds, the hills/And the waterfalls’/mock his attempts,’ he will react in a different manner:
I shall catch
Glimpses of your elegance
In the glow of the candles
With the temple that I build
For you. (Flame 132)
Or his liveliness and hopefulness can be discerned in the following lines:
Sea waves
Sing my song
And the rainbow colours
My amorous tale.
If I ever feel unfulfilled
I shall shed a few drops
To water the seedings of my passion. (Flame 133)
Dove, a symbol of peace and non-violence also seems mixed with hopefulness and radiance which is clearly visible in many of his trilliums (in Haiku Spirit) of his collection Flashes. Dove actually propagates the message of hope:
Dove flies towards skies
Green branch in beak
Message of our hopes. (Flashes 33)
It (Dove) ‘flies/ human sleep/ in the fold of dreams’ and ‘muses on a branch’ with ‘eyes half shut’ and reaches beyond the boundaries:
Dove draws no boundaries
No fuss
Gypsy of hopes. (Flashes 34)
In another collection Songs Before Shrine, Gill feels dove’s melody echoing in his soul and instilling hope and vigour in him. He hears the dove’s melody surging in his soul and watches its face and feels its beat in his flesh and blood and writes beautifully:
I envision it flying
Across my horizon;
I smell its presence
In the air. (SBS 13)
In another poem, ‘The Dove of Peace’, it is nothing but hope that is making Stephen Gill say:
For a long time
I have been hearing
The dove of peace will be freed
Shortly. (SBS 9)
And creates a mild but pricking irony:
To awaken that dove
Progress has been made
Today’s comfort
More sacrificed
Our homes now better adorned
With the thorns of hatred
A few more nuclear bombs
Remain to be developed
And contested. (SBS 9)
Or in another poem ‘Man of Today’, he sketches the shattered hopes of peace and holds the man responsible for all the traumas. He seems grim to see ‘songs of peace on one hand and distribution of weapons/ siding with the murderers on the other.’ So he asks:
On one side
Respect for the cats
Fondness for the dogs.
On the other side
Defeat for humanity.
No one knows
What is today’s man? (SBS 27)
Therefore, in such adverse atmosphere of agony, injustice, disharmony and peacelessness, the bud of hope is shrunk:
The wings of their dove
Cracked and clipped
Footprint of harmony erased
And hope-bud shrunk. (SBS 23)
Similarly in another poem ‘Evening of Harmony’, the poet finds the ‘sun of harmony sinking/ in the cave of despair/ as does the heart/ of a homeless orphan’, and adds:
Inside the home
The fireplace of hopes burns
Outside lurks a vacuum
Caused by retreating waves
Of lost sleep. (SBS 16)
But despite all such deep disappointments and despondency, the poet never leaves hope, nor his dove stops breathing in such adverse climate rather he urges hopefully:
Let the gleams of your glory
Ravage the plague of intolerance
For a new creature to emerge.
Cleanse the air
For the dove to breathe life
Into our homes
As well as in the universe. (SBS 7)
The poet’s dove ‘strives / to play with her wings/ while the brutal blades of nightmares/ clip them, yet the poet is not woe-begone, rather he writes:
The dove’s sight
Is the melody of blessing
For the comfort of homes
The dove’s presence
Is the rhythm of the creator
That cures the abnormal growth
of dissonance. (Shrine 56)
And adds :
As the oracle of hope
The soul- soothing dove
From her creative solitude. (Ibid)
In another poem ‘My Dove’ he finds the dove of longing sanctified in the sanctum of serenity’ and is above all nations. He sees dove as perfect vehicle of peace and hope on the earth so he says out loud:
She (dove)
Hues of undepictable truth
That consecrates
The emptiness of her surroundings
The leaf that she carries
Is from the evergreen tree
Of never ending hope. (Shrine 149)

Keeping these fears, dejection and terrible atmosphere in mind, he prays for better days to come. He appeals:
Strengthen my voice to weed out
The fear
The sickness
And the satanic wrath of the past
And to help
Truth to appear. (SBS 5)
The poet in Gill visions for better world and coming years so he asks the Almighty to ‘pacify the frenzy the violence’ as well as equip poet’s pen with ‘amazement fused with vitality’. He wishes ‘to harvest/ a ripe manna of harmony/ of the youthful enlightenment’ and ‘blossom a richness of pleasing nutrients/ of calm energy’. His songs also come together with the hopeful movement of dove. So he says:
Fragrance of spring
Sustain a structure of strength
With the braces of my lyrics
That will secure breathes together
In a mystical dance
To the tune of the song of the dove. (SBS 2)
Mother is another icon of hope and sacrifice to Stephen Gill. Her loving care and memories always remain with the poet. He finds his mother in ‘all three novels Why, Immigrant and The Loyalist City’ and even dedicates his collection Songs Before Shrine to her. His poem ‘To Mother’ can be seen here when he finds his mother as the perfect image of hope and says:
Image of sacrifice
Message of hope
You are highly prized
The gift of the life
I owe to you. (SBS 1)
Though Gill is well aware of the hardships and adversities of life and he knows the intensity of pain, loneliness and defeats. Therefore, he writes:
Whole life I shaped my path
Gusts of loneliness never stopped
Light missing. (Flashes 52)
Yet he keeps on living the life without grumbling or murmuring:
No haste
No worry
No malice
And no darkness of prejudice
Lurks here.
Eyes set on my horizon
On calm waves I sail here. (SBS 38)
And hopes for the spring’s arrival, so he writes:
Youth will run and roam
Flowers grow and bloom
Trees will be graced
Birds sing
And greenery abound. (SBS 83)
It is a time when ‘songs arise/ hopes throb/ and madness spreads.’ (Ibid, 83)
The abundance of optimism, hope, peace, love and harmony make the poet hopeful for a glorious dawn in this age of trouble and adversaries. Dr. George Hines says aright:
The poet envisages a future in which all living things will cooperate in harmony and will ‘smile together in life’s field. (SGHW 92)
Gill is well aware of the duties and responsibilities of a true poet. Poets are the sentinel of the conscience who draw a vivid and transparent picture of the society and point out the foils and foibles of human character. They lash at the weakness and demerits of the human being as well as empower them to write against maniac messiahs. Gill knows when a poet is needed:
When dearth and sward
And hope despaired
Sound their notes
Poet is acclaimed
And sought. (SBS 39)
He knows that the ‘poets are adventurous’ who ‘dive with swimmers/ dance with singers/ and enter/ the souls of tyrant/ as they paint/ voyaging/ in the seas of thoughts flowing/ the waters of emotions/ with the delicate oars/ of pens’. According to Gill, the poets are the givers of joy and happiness. They should not die in the dark and despair. His plea is aright:
Writers must use their coin
That is the Lord’s wish.
Should poets
Let the flower of hope be wasted
By the sickles of racial winds
Is the question now. (SBS 29)
In another poem ‘Birth of Poems’, he shows much hopes with the poets:
Poets free
The birds of their blood
Weave purrs and growls
With a single loam
They are cats
Walking in darkness of solitude. (SBS 32)
Stephen Gill has high hopes with poetry. He considers his own poems as ‘the brooks/ that flow leisurely/ through the green valleys/ of blessedness’. He considers that his poetry can ‘root out terrorists/ that sail on the currents of cruelty’. His poetry is a constant struggle for peace and for human rights which finds the ‘rhythm of life/ within the castle of grace’ and ‘cannot be abducted’. According to him, his poetry is the mine of hopes.
My songs
Beauty in living
Hope for warmth
And thirst of prosperity
The rainbow of my joy
Link distance islands of disharmony. (SBS 43)
Stephen Gill wishes to be the first claimant of dreams and shows his deep craving for hope and optimism which can be glanced in the following lines:
If there were dreams for sale
I would be the first to buy
No matter how high the price. (SBS 69)
And he further says:
I’ll pay any price
For the dreams
That lighten the burden
Brighten the day with sunrise
And make life
A time to remember. (Ibid)
In many of his poems, Stephen Gill states that our present sorrows and difficulties are temporary. Man should try to develop his environment with love, peace, truth and higher human values and renovate his soul with the beaming light of illumination and fresh hope. Here the emphasis of spirituality establishes the fact that man should follow the spiritual and natural laws. In connection of Gill’s poetry, it is again justified to quote George Hines’s words when we find him saying:
Just as the sun melts the morning mist, the poet hopes for a spiritual sun which will melt the ignorance, fear, hatred and greed which are ‘deeply amassed around our necks. (SGHW 92)
Stephen Gill’s poetry is a unique medley of hopes and despairs. In his crystal clear images of contemporary life full of destructive complexities in which man is hoarding material affluences and thereby entering into cut-throat competitions leading to mental disturbance, psychological imbalance and spiritual ‘insolence, he lits new lamps of hopes whose light will definitely torch the paths of future generations as well spread the message of optimism and re-constructive idealism among the people which is the real need of the hour. Though his poems are full of dismal and terrible pictures of terrorism and its consequences, yet they encourage man to ride through the rough tempestuous sea of life and cross all the boundaries of callous calamities and dreadful disasters.
Stephen Gill knows well that written words create miracles but for that sacrifice is needed. In an interview with N. K. Agarwal he says:
Writing is also therapeutic to me, in order to give light, candle burns itself. That is what a poet does. I write to disseminate my message in an art form. This is a process of burning oneself or going through the pains of a pregnant mother. (Kafla, 49)
Gill is much hopeful with his poems, so he says:
I hope my writings about peace will cause change in the thinking of my readers. (Kafla 49)
Such writings full of optimism and certitude will confer inner peace to the individual as well as provide him an alternative succor for his troubled mind and agonized soul by inspiring him to bind each and every human being in the sacred bonds of love, fraternity, peace and global brotherhood so that Human progeny may live a prosperous, peaceful and ideal life.

Work Cited:

Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Johnson, Thomas H. (Ed.) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955.
Gill, Stephen. Shrine. Allahabad:, 2008.
----. Songs Before Shrine. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2007. (Abbreviated as SBS in the text.)
----. Flashes. New Delhi: Imprint, 2007.
----. The Flame. Canada: Vesta Publications, 2008.
Hines,Dr. George, Stephen Gill and His Works, New Delhi: Authors Press,2008 (Abbreviated as SGHW in the text)

Kafla Inter-Continental, No 36, IICA, Dev Bhardwaj, (ed.) Chandigarh. Jan-April 2008, ‘Stephen Gill on his Writings and Diaspora’ an interview by N. K. Agarwal.

End to End, by I. K. Sharma, Jaipur: Sand-Pra Publications, 1/30, SFS Mansarovar, 2008, Price-100/- Reviewed By Dr. Shaleen Kumar Singh

Dr. I. K. Sharma is a veteran scholar, translator, reviewer, Associate Editor (IBC) and poet from Rajasthan. He belongs to the age of O. P. Bhatnagar (on whom he has edited a book of critical essays entitled O P Bhatnagar – A Critic with a Big Heart 2006) Nar Deo Sharma, Prakash Joshi, R. S. Pathak, A.N. Dwivedi, K. Shrinivas, Atma Ram, P. K. Joy, P. C. K.Prem, T. V. Reddy and many more. It was an age when these poets were writing and thinking of strengthening the foundation of Indian English Poetry and Criticism so that it may be recognized as separate offshoots of knowledge of Indian Literature. Therefore the contribution of the above mentioned poets, critics need comprehensive appraisal. Dr. I. K. Sharma, with his poetry collections entitled- The Shifting Sand Dunes (1976), The Native Embers (1986), Dharamshala and Other Poems (1993), Camel, Cockroach and Captains (1998), and My Lady Broom and Other Poems (2004) and now End to End has acquired a prominent place among those luminary poets published from big publications Houses like O.U.P, Macmillan, Harper Collins and Longman. Here it is to be noted that his poetry has no less sensibility or poetic mettle than those of luminaries rather it excels them at some places.
The present collection under the review is dedicated to ‘those who/ muse about…/ and/ amuse themselves…’ The collection carries 27 poems in which a few poems are already published in some leading journals of India. The poems of the collection are of varied tastes and hues in which the experienced acumen of poetry is visible crystal clear. A careful study of the book reveals that the book is marked with the characteristics of simplicity, precision, music and spontaneity mixed with meditativness. The poems of the collection are both subjective and objective. Reckoning the days of childhood when ‘Nothing is sweeter than the mother’s lap’ and where ‘all sore notes of care end;/ to which no emperor can pluck this place of joy’/ ‘that a sage seeks in forest, many in ascetic yards,’ he sketches the school days somewhere keeping his own childhood in mind in the poem ‘School Interval,’ “Their sky breaks/ as the bell tolls,/ their minds turn and turn/ to raids of the ball;/ they, heads bent tumble into their pen/ like lambs with a brand on their skin…” (2)
He reaches to the evening of life i.e. Old age and answers beautifully in the letter to the editor in which someone wrote to the poet, “I am 84 waiting for the Whistle of Destiny.” But the poet responds strongly and says, “ Age whispers no doubt on the brink,/ nags to, but eighty four is no fatal number/ for him who floats ever in books’ pool,’ and musters up energy by saying-“ there is enough bounce in your bones,/ and right swing in your pen.’ (11)
Some poems like ‘Swami Dayanand Saraswati,’ ‘Wild Love,’ ‘The Singer Who Lost His Voice,’ ‘A Tribute,’ ‘A Tribute to Chidambaram,’ ‘May 13th,’ ‘How Untrue….,’ and ‘The Terminator’ are written on important persons, events and dates of history. But the poems like ‘Termites,’ ‘Just Like That,’ ‘When No One Stops to Kiss My Face’ and ‘Loss’ are fine examples of simplicity, pithiness, symbolic and evocative imagery. But ‘The Lost Face’ on her wife mirrors his deep love to his wife in which he says in the end;
From her ashes rises music
That in me shall not die
No face, no face ever
Shall fill my empty sky. (38)
And the poem ‘May 13th’ shows poet’s deep love to Jaipur and its people as well as his indomitable zeal against the terrorists. On 13th May a synchronized bomb attack by terrorists caused a huge massacre ‘in the city of cool gems’ when people tried to tie ‘bands of love’ and ‘dye every hurt with a soothing voice’ yet the terrorists tried to plant ‘venomous darts’ ‘to rip pink petals’ of ‘faith.’ The poet in Sharma is not terrorized, so he writes:
Wet with blood our armour is
Yet our heart is Chetak
Willing to maul mid summer madness
Of a hundred fusty gangsters.” (31)
Alike a perfect social conscious and ideal poet he knows his duty to bind the people in the thread of love and fraternity so that people may live a life of fearless citizen aware of his duties and responsibilities in the dark hour of fear and dejection.
The poems of the collection are both meditative and amusing. The choice of themes and then the tackling of it in a skilled manner establish the fact that Sharma’s poetry is superb and excellent and his poems bear the stamp of his wide knowledge as well as concern for individual and social harmony. This collection is replete with many experiences of love, hate and kaleidoscopic images of life and it gives an interesting reading resulted in joy and hope that Dr. Sharma will not end here but will write more and more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rustling Leaves by R. K. Bhushan, New Delhi: Authors Press, 2008, ISBN 978-81-7273-449-7, pages 80, price 100/- Reviewed by Shaleen Kumar Singh

R. K. Bhushan is a poet of vibrating sounds, colours, aroma and sundry images ranging from leaves, stones, flowers, sky, waters, winds, storms, rivers, lilacs birds, to hope, dreams, shadows, loneliness, betrayal Adam-Eve, laughter, songs, love, beauty, romance, heavens, aspirations, absolutions, questions, answers, assertions, suppositions, suggestions, and even words, thoughts, vision and ever more. His poetry springs from the unknown and strikes at the unknown within us. In fact, he is a master craftsman with whom words, thoughts, rhythm and vision walk together and carry his readers to the ghats of everlasting ecstasy and epiphany. Born at Kartapur in Jalandhar district, Bhushan taught language and literature for about thirty seven years and retired later on as the Head, Post Graduate Dept of English from L.R.D.V. College. He is widely published, admired and awarded poet who has been decorated with the International Poet of Merit Award, in 2001 by the Poets International Society of Washington DC., U.S.A. His previous collection Sentinels of the Soul was highly acclaimed by critics in India and abroad.

The present collection is divided into three sections of ‘Adam in Riot Moods,’ ‘Beastly and The Beast’ and ‘Romance of Reflections’ carrying nineteen poems in first section, sixteen poems in second and ten poems in the last section. The poems of the collection have variety of themes like love, death, life, soul, silence, anxiety, pride, gods, divinity, mind, time and illusions that corer a broad spectrum and stir a ripple in heart and soul of the readers. In most of his poems, Bhushan has attempted to assume the role of a keen observant but amazingly he appears to be actively indulgent at the same time. The poet is a meditative and self-observing scholar who has spent a plenty of time in introspection and extrospection. Therefore, his self-confessional remark captures our attention when he says: “If I have had any complaints in life, they have been mostly against myself”. (Preface)

As a serious thinker, he questions himself: “Despite my notorious sprightliness and vivacious temperament, I have often wondered: “What has life and its love given to me?” (Preface) and again when he fails to materialize his dreams and ideals and has to crash-land on the path way of harsh realities, he questions again: “Was my measure too big?’ But these petty grudges stand nowhere when we read him saying: “Yet the veritable optimist that I am, I have treated these as transitory, momentary and varying features of the earthy phenomena that undoubtedly dim and eclipse the dazzle of the sun. But the sun continues to shine with the stand of perfect neutrality reaffirming in three simple words: Life goes on”. (Preface) In fact this self -motivating and optimistic approach of Bhushan is the stepping stone to understand his poetry as well as the whys and wherefores of his poetry.

In the present collection, we can find several instances wherein the poet has tried to express big ideas in small words:

Whatever is undone, delights me not;
Whatever is undone, worries me a lot (5)
* * *
Life of spirituality yields the hope;
Life of materiality fails to cope (14)
* * *
Laughter is the love of life;
Life is the song of laughter (20)
* * *
Why the sight troubles your soul;
Perform your own functional role (72)

The poems like ‘Lyric of Human Soul,’ ‘Dare Deny the Devil?,’ ‘Missing Links in the Process -1,’ ‘Missing Links in the Process -2 ,’ ‘The Holy and The Human’ and ‘Unforgettable,’ ‘Theatre of the Absurd,’ are humanistic and social conscious; ‘Zeal of the Zest,’ ‘Number of Silence,’ ‘Autopsy,’ ‘Life’s Pearl,’ ‘Give Me Laugh on Lease for Life,’ ‘Death Prized,’ ‘Life Ever Remained A Search for Urvashi,’ ‘Sacred to the God’ and ‘Divinity’ are optimistic and philosophical and ‘Finished Art of Unfinished Love,’ ‘Lover’s Anxiety,’ ‘Rolling in Romance,’ ‘Marvel of the Moment,’ ‘Lover’s World,’ and ‘Do I Miss You?,’ are chief love poems. Besides, a few poems like ‘A Vesper,’ ‘Rolling in Romance,’ ‘Life’s Pearl’ and ‘Rustling Leave have charming delineation of nature in which the poet with his tools of words, symbols and imagery has left a lasting impression on the reader’s mind.

The language of the poet is evocative, decorative and passionate. The good command over English language and literature can be seen in the poems like ‘Fragrance from Afar,’ ‘Genius Infinite -1,’ ‘Genius Infinite-2,’ ‘Fall on the Mall’ and ‘Eve and Adam.’ The narrative quality of the poet is much similar to Ted Hughes which though being long is never monotonous or devoid of meaning. The poems like ‘The Glory of The Pride,’ ‘Dare Deny the Devil?’ ‘Missing Links in Process-1,’ ‘Missing Links in Process’-2’ and ‘Genius Infinite’ are the fine examples of the same. The poet is at home in his choice of words, phrases and idioms so his poetry is crystal clear and not complex.

In nut shell, the book Rustling Leaves with an attractive jacket has turned out to be an alluring offering of R. K. Bhushan. The poems of the collection are of serious nature that lead to an illumined awareness of human situation and enhance to the level of spirituality so that man’s life may reach the ultimate goal. I hope and trust ardently that the book will make an interesting reading and attain its desirable goal of Charaveti Charaveti.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tribals in Indian English Novel: A.K. Chaturvedi, Atlantic Publishers, New Delhi ISBN -975-81-269-09445 Reviewed by Dr. Shaleen K. Singh.

A.K. Chaturvedi, a senior lecturer and scholar of English literature has been seriously involved in criticism of Indian English novel for a pretty long time and has published most of his research papers in distinguished literary and critical magazines of India. He is currently Assistant Professor in English in a Govt. College of Gwalior.

The book under review is designed beautifully in hard bound exhibits the author’s hard labour which he undertook in the preparation of the book. Though a few pieces from the book are already published, yet the author has arranged all of them in a single volume which ‘seeks to bring out the similarly between the primitive life as portrayed by the Indian English novelists and as lived by the tribal in the remote rural area of India’.

Chaturvedi in the book starts from the historical background of Indian English novels to the English education in India and then elaborates clearly the reasons of late development of Indian English fiction. A few of his reasons why authors chose English as a medium of their expression are no less interesting when he says that Indians wrote in English because they were desirous of impressing the British public and here Chaturvedi gives references of Shambhu Nath Mukherji’s letter to Meredith Townshend to prove his argument. And he appears more hopeful to the future of Indian English novel than the counterpart literature in the regional languages.

In the second chapter of ‘Tribal in ancient India Literature’ the author at first defines the tribal from Indian and Western resources, then searches its roots in Ancient Indian literature like that of Kadambari, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the most ancient book in the Rig Veda. Here he has tried to remain honest in his opinions when he looks at the both pros and cons on the point of discrimination and the treatment with the tribal by the upper strata of society.

The third chapter ‘Searches’ references of the tribal and the issues pertaining to the tribal in the four major Indian English novels viz. Arun Joshi’s The Strange Case of Billy Vishwas, Kamla Markandey’s The Coffer Dam, Gita Mehta’s A River Sutra and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.

In Arun Joshi’s The Strange Case of Billy Vishwas, Chaturvedi finds tribal world as symbol of ‘elemental life when nature the absolute are not conceived as separate entities but the Tribal village to which Billy escapes is a haven for him. Here he is free of worldly restraints. It is the place where the border lines of divinity, superstition and magic converse’.

Similarly in the sixth novel of The Coffer Dam (1969) Kamla Markandaya, Chaturvedi finds ample references of tribal issues and incidents in the picture of a Tribal village near which the British engineers, Howard Clinton and Mackendrick intend to build a big dam to control and channelize a turbulent river “that rose in the lakes and valleys of the south Indian highland and thundered through inaccessible gorges and jungle dawn to planes with prodigal waste”.

In Gita Mehta’s A River Sutra, which according to Chturvedi, unlike her previous novels is one that could not make a mark, is seminal book that ‘reflects the shift of novelists concern to Indian sensibility and deals with the themes like cultural values, music, art forms, ethos and tribal life’. Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss the booker prize winner novel deals the issues of Tribal’s marginalization in a very limited space. According to the seventeenth chapter of the novel, where the pathos of the tribal of the stone town, Janjiwar are clearly visible. Here the issue of tribal’s marginalization is very significant because for long Trival community which suffered the lack of resources, poverty, illiteracy and even starvation despite false promises of the govt. and groundless development programmes of Govt. and non-Govt. sectors. Tribal, though have seen the light of development and the authors poets and journalists have looked deep into their life, yet they need all round support in our Nation, so that they may not remain a issue or object of the author’s writing but may walk hand in hand on the road of progress.

To sum up, Chaturvedi deserves high accolades for his arduous labour in the book which is fully critical precise, objective and to the point. In his mission of research of the subject matter, Chaturvedi nowhere seems strayed or superfluous. So, the book needs wide distribution among critics and laureates of Indian English criticism so that they may understand the literary contribution of Dr. Chaturvedi.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


“To the unique phenomena of the unprecedented growth of indo-English literature during the post independence era, Indian male poets have contributed fairly a good deal of verse, which is worthy of critics’ attention”(SCIEV), is aptly remarked by A.N. Diwedi, a notable Indian English critic in his collection of Critical Essays on male poets. In the contemporary situation, Indian male poets have enriched all the genres of literature as well as voiced their notions on almost each and every theme from political situation to social disorganization, from love, fantasy, and sex to human foils and foibles, from rapid development of Science and Technology to rapid decline of ethical, moral and human values and gross realities that are being faced by modern man and woman also. As recent Indian poetry in English is no longer the shadow, it has become the substance, nor is it an echo but a potent voice worth listening to. It has acquired its own identity on the global scene and has become the synonym of success. A large number of male poets like Nissim Ezekiel, Keki N. Daruwala, V.K. Gokak, R. Parthsarthy, Krishna Srinivas, Dom Mores, A. K. Ramanujan, Shiv K. Kumar, O.P. Bhatnagar, D.H. Kabadi, Pritish Nandy, Keshav Malik, V.S. Skanda Prasad, Syed Ammeruddin, Baldev Mirza, I.K. Sharma, H.S. BhatiaI.H. Rizvi, Pronab Bandhopadhyay, Prakash Joshi, R.N. Sinha, Suresh Chandra Diwedi, Niranjan Mohanty, P. Raja, Narendra Pal Singh, Mahanand Sharma, Aju Mukhopadhyaya, G.K. Kottor, Tabish Khair and a numberless more have penned on the Indian women with their own viewpoints and angles. Owing to this reason, there is a need of comprehensive discussion over the title. The purpose of this paper is to make an in-depth study in the poetry of Indian English male poets who have represented Indian women
We can commence with comment of O.P. Bhatnagar who remarks:

“The milieu, ever since Indian poetry in English came to be written has been one of change, due to the influence of the western notions of love, individuality, freedom and equality of woman on one hand, and industrialization, social reforms, education and economic independence of woman on the other.”

Talking about the poetry on the Indian woman, the factors of development in the field of education an outlook cannot be under-rated if we take contemporary poetry into account. Modern poets have witnessed the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of the present time and their poems bear the testimony and tale of such bare realities of life of man and woman.
Nissim Ezekeil, the first Post-independence Indian English poet who gave Indian English poetry ‘A local habitation’ and a name, though he is of Bene Israel origin, he possesses a strong sense belonging to India, the country of his birth and living. His poetry covers a wide range of subject and variety of expression and vivid pictures. In the poem ‘On Bellasis Road’, he makes a graphic picture of Indian woman:

“I see her first
As colours only
Poised against the faded
Red of a post-box
Purple sari, yellow blouse
Green bugles, orange
Flow on her hair
A moment later
A sense her as a woman
Bare as her feet
Beneath the shimmer.” (IVE 3)

In the earlier poems of Ezekeil, we find the themes of love and woman both similar to the themes of Kamla Das. B.K. Das observes:

“He (Ezekeil) looks at love and woman from a man’s point of view as Kamla Das views love from a woman’s point of view. Flattery and bold advance are necessary for ‘survival and success’ in love and married life.” (CEP 24)

According to Ezekeil Sex and Sensuality are a part and parcel of life and in order to accept art one has to affirm sensuality for Ezekeil believes in art for art’s sake. In his passion poems and Nudes Sex moves centripetally and physical satisfaction of love holds the key in the poems. Some other poems like ‘Two Nights of Love’, ‘Recluse’, ‘Jewish Wedding in Bombay’; the consummation of love remains predominant. As Ezekeil examines a situation clearly and express it in his own words in on outspoken manner while observing a situation on which a woman was wood by a man in an unmistakable term, he says:
“You are a wonderful woman, he said
And she laughed happily
Having heard it before from many men
To see her naked
And to know how she surrendered
Who was so hard and vain
In that moment of mutual deception
And almost lovable.” (CEP 24-25)

In his ninth collection ‘Hymns in Darkness’, he makes the woman appear in the role of sex objects where he describes this intimate scene between man and woman in a calm and cool way:

“Don’t she says, don’t
Conniving all the same
Short of tearing her clothes
His using all his force
Soon his had what he wanted
Soft, warm and round.” (CEP 26)

In another poems lime ‘Motives’, ‘At the Party’ and ‘At the Hotel’, the persona of his poems looks at the woman from the point of view of male protagonist and his poetry in mostly satirizing doting on the man-woman, their manners and behaviourial norms, relationship between the spouses, their sexual preoccupations and the environments through which all the persone in his poetry have to pass the biological point of view and takes it as a normal instinct in man and woman. Sex should not be a myth but a reality like other realities of life; this has got to be described through in an artistic way:

“Ethereal beauties may you always be
Dedicated to love and reckless shopping
Your midriffs moist and your thighs unruly
Breast beneath the fabric slyly plopping.”(ibid)

B.K. Das observes:
“Ezekeil uses unconventional words like ‘unruly thighs’, ‘plopping breasts’, ‘midriffs moist’ and describes female anatomy as well as garments in his poetry.”
Ezekeil like Kamla Das and Shiv K. Kumar uses erotic vocabulary in his poetry and makes an objective look at the realities of life. Here the comment of Prakash Joshi can summarize his poetry when he says:

“Mr. Ezekeil is a poet of body who loves the nakedness of woman as the work of God though she may manifest his in the form of a bitch.” (49)

“A.K. Ramanujan”, who according to C.N. Shrinath:

“is a fine craftsman with a super control over his medium in a fair response to his poetry.” (CEP 29)
Some critics of A.K. Ramanujan find in his poetry the syndrome of expatriation, alienation and obsession, yet quite a few speak of Ramanujan’s rootedness in his Hindu experience and his ‘Indian sensibility sharpened and conditioned by a western education’. Family is the nerve centre of Ramanujan’s poetry. Most of his poems have their origin in poet’s recollected personal emotions and have a touch of nostalgia and pathos. His description of woman is catalogued in many forms of woman as mother, wife, daughter (widowed daughter). His poetic outputs namely ‘The Strides’, ‘Relations’(1971) carry distinguishing features of autochthonousness, Indian myths, symbols, people, customs, rich cultural and spiritual heritage constitute corpus of his poetry. The image of Indian woman by Ramanujan is drawn with his portray of family in some of his remarkable poems like ‘Of Mother’, ‘Among Other Things’, ‘Love Poem for a Wife’ and ‘Small Scale Reflections on a Great House’, where ‘Family, the theme haunts the poet and there are some other poems which owe their origin to recollected personal emotions and deal with his memory of relations. In the light of this view ‘Of Mothers, Among Other Things’ is a soft soothing poem which encompasses the mother’s youth, her unerring care for the ‘Crime Cradles’, her devotion to her worth unmindful of the rains and the fluttering loose Saris and her painstaking responsibilities. He says:

“My cold parchment tongue licks bark
In the mouth when I see her forth
Still sensible fingers slowly flex
To pick a grain of rice from the kitchen floor.”(TS,26)

Another poem ‘Love Poem for a Wife’ highlights the poet’s sense of estrangement from his wife but there is no such writing of the heart and the tone has softened considerably in portraying the lean and thin but lovely and charming face of poet’s wife:
“My wife’s face still fast
As sleep as blessed by
Butterfly, snake, ship rope,
And grandmother’s other
By my only love’s only
Insatiable envy.”(Rel.,5)

The poetry of A.K. Ramanujan is a projection of his feelings through the invention and structuring of images particularly Indian Hindu life where woman is circumscribed into his own boundaries of thoughts, imagination and Indian ethos.
Dom Mores is much similar to A.K. Ramanujan when he reopens the book of his memories related with his mother when he says:

“These relics of my mother, which
Came brown paper, caused me griefs
The rich brecades the ornaments
Napthalena balls dead photographs
And a white bra, lapsed in the cups
Since she last slipped it off to sleep.”( NBIPE, 123)

‘Letter to my Mother’ which is in the section New Poems revealsMoraes as a mature poet who has renounced the childhood of fairies, angles and demons and tries to enquire the pathos of mother and through her the country of his origin and finally reach at a mood of humbleness:

“You pray, you do not notice
The corpses around you
Sorrow has stopped your eye
Your dream is desolate
It calls me everyday
But I cannot enter it
You know I will not return
Forgive me my trespasses.”( SCIEV, 80)

Most of the Indian English poets have tried to draw a sketch of contemporary Indian society which is characterized by economic, physical, cultural and personal laughable and pitiable and man and woman both are dehumanized or insensitive to the pains and throes of their beings. Contemporary Indian English delineate a transparent picture of Indian women like we may glance the poem of Pronab Babdhopadhyaya who depicts the degradation of woman when he says:

“Ila ray must run
Another hundred or two
Selling off
Her evening ardour youth.”( CIEP, 136)

And at another place he writes:

“On the dark silken chest
Of the woman night
The dead mother
Sucking the sleeping child
The bare naked rails
The hardened python
Of a weary civilization
The pavements as seasons of the year
Shift mood. Colour, stance.” (139)

In the poem ‘Indian Woman’, Shiv K. Kumar Describes the Indian women who while making a queue near a well for water wait for their men’s return who have gone ‘beyond the hills’. Here he wishes to draw the image of rural and tribal India come alive in the poem:

“In this triple baked continent
Women don’t etch angry eyebrows
On mud walls
Patiently they sit
Like empty pictures
On the mouth of the village well
With Zodiac doodling on the sands
They guard their tattooed thighs
Waiting for their men’s return.”( IVE,53)

There are scores of poets who describes the physical beauty of women in their poems. For them women is considered be merely a commodity to be exploited and where all scribbling of these poets are to meander to and fro alike pendulum of confusion like Keshav Malik when feels sad at the loss of beauty of woman, says:

“Lady I see how time dates your beauty
Your Sylph like figure wrapped each revolving year
With layer on layer of rich fat,
Till to my recognition you are all but lost-”( MIEP,105)

Some poets like Syed Ameeruddin and Tabish Khair mingle their feelings of love when they draw the picture of woman infuse the element of nature in it also. Tabish Khair says:
“Into the winter of my maidenhood
You came as the spring
With the promise of budding flowers
And past a summer of warm womanhood
You left me as the autumn
With the empty rustle of manhood.”( COIEP, 79)

Similarly Syed Ameeruddin appears to be celebrating in the feeling of love and longing when he is in the communion of woman or her beloved:
“Let us celebrate
The night of White shadows
Shed by liquid moon
Sunk in the debris of rivers
Come beloved!” (COIEP, 20)

But unlike many of his presceder-poets O. P. Bhatnagar takes woman not for sex or baby food. Though in his mocking tone he tries to tell us:

“That sex is not a baby food
To stick to only one brand
Least it may cause indigestion
To one’s delicate system in growth.”

Rather he makes us to see sex in a refreshing manner when he says:

“Sex should come as challenge
Not as shame or consolation
Or something to shy from
It’s a pleasure on which body grows
And soul feeds like honey
Made rich by the extracts of different flowers;
Serving ideas with a different hue
Causing wide stomach upsets
Agreeable but only to a few.” (COIEP, 55)

Bhatnagar seems nowhere apologizing of permissiveness in sex rather he appears to be criticizing the conventional morality which is imposed on woman only which is a clear affirmation of Bhatnagar’s faith in human values as that which is biologically and socially advantageous to the species. There are several Indian English poets who respect and honour the dignity of woman for they believe ‘Yatra naryastu poojyante; ramante tatra devta’(where woman are worshipped; God resides there) Dr. C.L. Khatri, editor cyber literature respects the woman as woman who asks the mythical Draupadi, the classical heroin of the Mahabharata to come down from heaven to redeem the dignity of her sisters:

“Come down from heaven Draupadi
Regain your dignity, awake the Pandavas
Re-enact your historical swear
Redeem the dignity of your sister.” (44)

In the contemporary Indian English poetry the suppressed voice of woman is not only uttered forcefully by these poets but also they have tried their best to uproot those fanatic, chauvinistic and traditional bound superstitious and myth ridden ancient approach from our minds. As Indian woman for long has been under the grinding wheel, enchained, muffled and voiceless and made to surrender to the whims, fancies and eccentricities of ‘savage’ man, his over lordship and to treat woman as a chattel. The life of woman remains a saga from birth to death, beret with agencies, pains, depravation and untold sufferings and though much has been done by Indian English male-poets to ameliorate the plight of Indian woman from time to time by their constant efforts of voicing the predicament of woman and their crucial needs as well as arising as a host of questions and demand to be discussed in public it is yet to gain ground in our male dominated society. Here it is important to know that a poet is free from cliques of poetic form, metre and rhythm as well as the literariness and morality, yet he has to keep up the tradition of poetry and remain fully conscious to the societies’ lackadaisical approach and apathy towards the one set of society whose whole history has been a sorrowful tale of prostitution, beggary, rape, slavery, child labour and discrimination. If we glance at the whole spectrum of Indian English poetry, we will find that the issues and her present situation has been portrayed more forcefully by the Indian English poets who are male and who are also considered to be belonging to the category of man called synonymous with the adjectives of ‘Savage’, ‘Brute’ or ‘Seducers’ of woman.

· A.N. Diwedi (Ed), (Studies in Contemporary Indo English Verse- A Collection on Male Poets, (abbreviated as SCIEV in the text), Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1989.
· O.P. Bhatnagar, ‘Love:Male and Female Responses’, Love and Death in Indian Poetry in English. Ed. S.N.A. Rizvi, Delhi: Doaba House, 1989.
· Syed Ameruddin (Ed.), Indian Verse in English, (abbreviated as IVE in the text), Madras: Poet Press, (1977).
· B.K. Das, ‘Nissim Ezekeil and the Making of Indian English Idiom’, Critical Essays on Poetry, (abbreviated as CEP. in the text), New Delhi: Doaba House.
· Prakash Joshi ‘Attitudal Dichotomy in Nissim Ezekeil Poetry’, Literary Horizons, Amravati:January, 1987,
· A.K. Ramanujan, The Strides, London: Oxford University Press, (abbreviated as T.S. in the text) 1966.
· A.K. Ramanujan, Relations, London: Oxford University Press, (abbreviated as Rel. in the text) 1971.
· G.K. Kottor (Ed.), A New Book of Indian Poems in English, (abbreviated as NBIPE in the text), Kolkata: Writers’ Workshop, 2000.
· B.K. Das (Ed.), Contemporary Indo English Poetry (abbreviated as CIEP in the text), Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1986.
· B.K. Das (Ed.), Modern Indo English Poetry (abbreviated as MIEP in the text), Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1982.
· I.H. Rizvi (Ed.), Contemporary Indo English Poetry (abbreviated as COIEP in the text).Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1988.
· I.H. Rizvi (Ed.), Contemporary Indo English Love Poetry. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1990.
· C.L. Khatri,Kargil. Patna: Cyber Publicaton House, 2000.
· O.P. Bhatnagar, Angles of Retreat. (Abbreviated as AR in the text), New Delhi: Samkaleen Prakashan, 1979.

Friday, August 29, 2008

‘The Route to the Open Sea’- The Poetry of Rita Malhotra

When looking at the whole scenario of Indian English Poetry from pre independence to Post independence, Pashupati Jha’s observation is noticeable:
Although Indian English poetry written by women marked its presence in the nineteenth century with the arrival of Toru Dutt, further reinforced by Sarojini Naidu in the next century; this poetry, despite its strength and importance, lacked a sense of immediacy and intimacy of personal experience. These poets were more concerned with establishing their credential as an Indian poet writing in English than with the exploration of their inner urge…but after the mixed sixties of the twentieth century, a perceptive change was noticed with the emergence of ‘I’- an assertive self in the poetry of Kamla Das and this trend went on gathering strength with Mamta Kalia, Eunice De Souza, Sunita Jain, Lalita Venkateshwaran and Shri Devi. (Jha)

We find that a major shift of ideas and themes from objective to subjective, from self expose to self-identity and from imitativeness to originality. The simultaneous growth and development in the field of woman and her consciousness can not only be discerned in the society but also it is a living reality in the woman literature also. Woman poets have been the true janitors of different heritage and cultures as well as they are the emotional sculptor of civilization. In this context the post independence Indian English women poets mainly Anna Sujata Modayil, Chitra Prasad, Rohini Gupta,Dorothy Sinha, Gauri Deshpandey, Kamla Das, lluxmi Kanan, Lalita Vyankateshwaran, lila Dharmraj, Monika Verma, Ira De, Tapti Barua Kashyap, lila Dalmiyan, Renu Roy, Roshan Alkazi, Mamta Kalia, Mina Alexender, Sunita Jain, Suniti Namjoshi, Vimla Rao, Marry Andasgupta and Rita Malhotra are the pioneers of Indian English women poetry. Unlike their processors, these poets are rich in their sensibility and craft both. Besides, they claim to be categorized in a separate class called Modern Women Poets.
Moving our glance from the whole scenario to the poetry of Rita Malhotra in particular, we will find the velvety woman and caring and caressing poet in her. Sobrato Bandhyopadhyaya aptly remarks:

The ‘poetical- key’ in Malhotra’s poems opens doors to delicate songs with balanced rhetoric and emphasis of conviction a perfect admittance to one’s interior shadows, powerful enough to fly through innovative intuitions. (Blurb)

A reader in Mathematics at Kamla Nehru College and visiting Post Graduate Faculty, Delhi University-, Dr. Rita Malhotra is a PhD in Mathmatics and has been a Post Doctoral Fellow at University of Paris IX on a French Government Fellowship. She has published her two collections previously; the first one is Reflections published by Writers Workshop Calcutta (1997) and the second Images of love published by Virgo publications (2003). She is widely translated, published and awarded. Her poetry carries several imprints of romanticism but does not forsake the plight and challenges of modern life and woman in particular.
In her I am not Your Woman and Other Poems her latest collection, Rita mingles memory with meandering emotions and is seen absorbed in the quest of roots of love in woman’s life. In her opening poem ‘I am Not Your Woman’ when she in the end says:

Today he is synonymous
With absence
Today I seek a route
To the open sea. (1)

We find a blend of past with the present as the warp and woof of her poetry which is synonymous with aerial presence of love that is a light house anchoring the poetry of Rita to the new shores of experiences and meanings. Her poetry, therefore is not merely a document of personal experiences, rather it bears agonies, pains and anguish of modern life in society wherein she with the subjects of child marriages, rape of minors, child prostitutes, hypocrisy of man, homeless children and the hollowness of middle class ethos in urban India and the false babble of politicians. In her poem, ‘Woman’ she metaphorically compares woman to a ‘flowing river/ assuming myriads shapes, shades/ along her journey/ through life’s rocks and stones/ in its fickle twist and turns’ ignoring the ravages of time. She portrays all the images of Kali, Rukhmani or Gauri in her woman and expands her ocean of thoughts and makes the woman to ‘welcome, embrace/ to prayers, sins/ ashes and all.’ Similarly in her poem ‘Bindi’ which is marked as ‘caste mark of profound piety, Rita muses over myriad aspects and journeys through myriad moods and finally speaks in the words of Bindi:

I empower
I endow her with sense of space
As I pave the vibrant way
She remains the soul
Of this day.(20)

In another poem, ‘Cookie Woman’ she mirrors the fate and plight of woman when she says:

Woman, born, reborn
And born, again
All in one birth
A function of man’s desire
Seeking sense in
Sometimes- loved
Othertimes- ignored gestures
Shaped, chiseled,
To suit her master,
Is the manicured cookie
Relished bite by bite until
Dreams defeated,
She is a shapeless mass once more. (39)

Similar thoughts are exposed in the poem ‘Widow’:

Disarray of solitude
Shuts her eyes to lust lies
Brutal desires drowns her sobs of shame
Dignity imprisoned for life
She dies once more, and once more,
Numberless times. (50)

In the poem ‘Words’ she alike Baldev mirza considers words as a potent medium to bring the people close in the words of Mirza who says:
I fling a cord of words
To walk unto me.
Similarly Rita says:
“Words drew us close
Words tore us apart
Light- years hence
We reach out once again
Treading upon the word-path. (108)

The creative genius of Rita is chiefly visible in her poems of love, nature and man and woman relationship where she is both candid and confessional without any inhibition on her part and where she expresses her notions in simple, genuine and human style, displaying a rare emotional maturity, combining tenderness, passion and emotions and her weakness if any is the weakness of entire class. Her sensitive and sober observations are the both penetrating and piercing that can be seen in her poems ‘Untitled’, ‘Infidelity’, ‘Prisoners of Patterns’, ‘Canvas’, ‘Unwed Mother’, ‘ Solitude’, ‘Footstep’, ‘distant’, ‘Devote’, ‘New Son’, ‘Tempest’ and ‘Picture Perfect.’ Besides, poems like ‘Silence’, ‘the Sea Within’, ‘Borrowed Bliss’, ‘metropolis’, ‘ Land- Sea- Land’, ‘tempest’, ‘ Blanket night’, ‘ night’, ‘ Kaohsiung Images’, ‘Earthquake images’ and ‘Like Every Other Day’ are full of the hues of the Nature in which Rita has tried her best to portray almost all the aspects of Nature and life. For example, in the ‘Earthquake images, she says;

The earth quakes in fury
Puts life to a dreadful sleep
Shakes the dead awake.’ (96)
Or in ‘Kaohsiung Images’ she draws a sketch:
“Moments linger
Through reciprocal promises
Of meeting again
We return
Shut eyelids of the stare-strewn waters
Of the Love- river
Conceal sadness-rears. (95)

In another poem, ’Metro-morality’, Rita gives a realistic picture of the metropolis:

Sultry monsoon-evening
Screeching cars
On angry abused roadsoccupants sport
Latest- in- fashion’ garments
On way to a dinner meet
Deliberations on the Agra summit
And the Phoolan Devi- killing
Follow talks of
Hectic schedules and humid weather.

x x x x x

Curses damn the inhuman city
Warped morality manifested,
Pseudo-compassion warded off
Like a swarm of bees,
The car moves on, A C full blast
The F M channel plays
The next popular number. (101)

And in another poem ‘Freedom Fighter’, she is both realistic and emotional at the sad demise of a freedom fighter:

Today log-stiff, still
Draped in white
He smiled his death smile
The medal shines bright
On his frail proud chest. (86)

Or in ‘Their Tuesdays’ she puts a humorous and ironical picture of the hanuman temple:

The affluence-draped devotee
In white Jasmine fragrance
Falls prostrate
Seeking divinity
In garlanded exaggeration of stone idols
The priest’s vulture-glance gleefully crystallizes in
The generous offerings
At Hanuman’s divine feet. (79)

The short poem or the Tercets appended in the last of the book are no less sensuous, beautiful and poetic in which most of the poems are about love, pain, hope, nature and feminism where the three unities of rhythm, idea and vision can be found predominant.
The metaphoric images, graceful symbols, alliterative phrases, deed ruminations and excavations of heart’s pain, fine arrangement of words, appropriate linguistic use, constitute these short poems. For example, we may take the first Tercet in which Rita creates a metaphor when she says:

Lotus leaf
Trembling water drops
Hint of love. (123)

Or a silent pain can be heard when she says:
“The slow exudation of ironic perspectives the protraction of impulsive labouring and the conception of emotional candour is obvious in these tercets where Rita’s authentic poetic sensibility which is mostly charged with self-indulgence, self-experience and a vacuity which remains visible in most of the poems hits at the genesis and the development of the idea, and the motive of the poet. The Indian ethos and sensibility are nowhere absent nor the deep-rooted Indian rituals have become fetters like other Indian English Women poets who denounce the social bindings’ rather she voices the issues of woman more forcefully than any other current woman poet. She is never dismayed or dishearten in the adverse times when she appears to be saying:

I remember time
In colours of hurt
Yet I dream dream.”(126)
X x x
“Algae- covered pond
Depressed waters
Yet the lotus smiles a fresh pink. (130)

Yet we become reflective when we read such lines:

Can we give the street child
His last childhood by drooping
A coin into his begging bowl?’(134)
Woman today
Is not a mere mirror
That magnifies the image of her man. (135)

According to her, the human quest and human predicament is much similar to these tercets:

Immense daylight, edgeless
Scorching desert sands, endless
Search for an oasis continues.”135
Wild grass
In the graveyard
Flower struggle to survive. (Ibid)

She, at times, appear to be breaking all restrictive codes of decorous behavior of poetry but she never cuts across the boundaries of morality and decency rather she remain emotional, poetic, and flowing. A fusion of transmutation of image, symbol, metaphor rhythm and tone with feeling create a high sensitivity and vitality in her poems as well as the intensity of experience and the prominence of feeling and sensuality make her more passionate balanced and celebrated artist. Her ward pictures are lively, vivid as she is gifted poetic artist who uses vivid, crisp, evocative and alliterative phrases: - blank between, melodies, meanders, hired henchman, romantic resides, powerful prostitutes, dew drops, brocade-blanket, anxious anticipation, diurnal dip, deluging desires, falsity ferments, falsehood, whistling winds, glow golden, cheerful chocolate, gamine grin, soft silk, brown buds, permanent probability, earnest expression, colossal cosmos, pattern played , profound piety, soberly splendor, death disguise, seismic storm, fragment flown, bare breasts, shambling seaside, sounds, fragile fabric, monochrome magic dark days and rocking rhythms, (in her long poems) lotus leaf, time trembles, death’s door, still sighs, stone-still shelf and wind-worn (in Tercets).
According to her, when ‘the soul embarks/ upon a journey to fantasy land, / floating stars on dark water / make a poem’ or when ‘dawn smiles / foaming waves lack- hands / in an endless white chain / a poem takes shape’ or when ‘ words weave poems / a nourished soul / spreads its wings’. It is nowhere a ‘sudden outburst / inspired moment’ / or ‘spontaneous overflow’. To her, poetry is a daughter of love and agony. It is a perfect marriage of experience and expression. We find her nowhere vacillating between the two or over weighing the one. She is nowhere away from life’s realities, so she remains interesting and charming. Here the comment of Dragan Pragojlovic worth mentioning:

Malhotra’s poems come into being between love and agony. Her poems do not ignore life’s truths. That is perhaps the reason why her poems often convey very deep emotions and sound honest. The reader cannot remain indifferent and would be able to feel the warmth and pain of Malhotra’s verse in his mind. (Blurb)

Besides, the two poems, the one on Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam and the other on’ Mother Teresa’ are also beautiful because they not only eulogize the two luminaries but also leave a didactic note.
It is our turn now
Deep inside, each one
Is a proved brave heart
Ready to walk along
The path you carve
Beyond thoughts, beyond dreams.
Beyond times. (114)

Therefore from the above observation, we may clearly see that the poetry of Rita Malhotra is pure and perfect in the sense as it dose not leave its readers reflective on account of its suggestive, vigorous and lively images revitalize and recharge the human being should be the aim of the poets to make their readers both passive and active; passive in the terms of human regeneration or disorganization and active in the terms of vivacity of thoughts and emotions.
The collection I am not Your Woman and Other Poems paves the way to open sea on which we find her moving constantly with silent steps. The Indianness, picturesqueness, truthfulness, innocence, viability, suggestiveness, clarity, appropriateness and the accurateness of Mathematics is well reflected in Rita Malhotra’s poems. So she remains graceful, delicate, mature, perceptive, innovative and balanced from beginning to the end of the collection. I personally wish for the long life of such creative genius so that she may continuously bliss her readers with her mesmerizing poetry.

Jha, Pashupati, ‘The Emergence of ‘I’ Among Indian Women Poets’ Indian Writing in English: Tradition and Modernity. Amar Nath Prasad (Editor) and Kanupriya, New Delhi: Sarup and Sons. 2006.
I Am Not Your Woman and Other Poems by Rita Malhotra, Kolkata: Sampark, 2007.ISBN 8-7768-0463, Price- 250/-, pp140. (All the subsequent references are from the same poetry book)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Live……..

I live a death
On the name of life
I live a hate
On the name of love
I live among false
In the sanctum of truth
I live an aphony
On the name of words
On the name of feelings
On the name of thoughts—

Do you live life in fragments?
Like I live in shattered broken glass pieces
Do you die of growing falsity in man?
Like I die often failing in life’s combat
Do you merge alike sinking ferry
Like I used to in my daily attempts of living
FRIEND! Can you understand?
What pricking of hearts means
What happens when you feel none around
Only dark mist beyond visions
Do you crave for stars
That fall from the sky
And just reside in eyes alike dreams
Do you ever grope something in dark
With hope of finding
And your search, when ends in
Desperation, farce and nothing at all

How do you live friend?
How do you live among these dead ?


Monday, August 25, 2008

VISIONS OF DELIVERENCE by Syed Ameeruddin, Edited by Krishna Srinivas, Chennai: International Poets Academy, 2006. ISBN 81-900653-2-7, price 300/- pag

Syed Ameeruddin is a poet of new awakening and his poetry which is complex, evocative and emotive has been widely published, anthologized and critically analyzed by the critics of India and abroad. His edited collection Indian Verse in English is judged as the most representative anthology of our time. For his laudable contribution Ameeruddin has been awarded with Michal Madhusudan Award, Australia Day award for literature (1980) and other prestigious awards from Indai and abroad. Syed Ameeruddin, ‘… is a poet with vision, mission, fusion and transfusion to vigorate and rejuvenate the dejected and faded spirits like phoenix’, is rightly remarked by Shujat Hussain, an eminent critic. He is ‘emerged as a unique phenomenon for his poetic vision, spiritualism, vibrating dynamism, symphonic symbolism, complex imagery and above all for his humanitarian and metaphysical concerns’. (A Critical Review, 226 )

The latest collection Vision of Deliverance is before me for review and I find it too difficult to sum up the critically this magnum opus in few words. And yet an attempt is being made to look into the book in critical way. The collection has thirty poems and a few critical opinions on Ameeruddin’s poetry before and after the collection are incorporated for a better critical understanding of the poetry of Ameeruddin.

The first poem ‘A Prayer for My Grandson’ which is according to late Dr. K. Srinivas has ‘epic dimensions’ and though in the form of personal conversation the poet has beautifully mingled social consciousness, philosophy and predicament of modern life in the poem. We can see it in the following lines when he, addressing his grandson, says:

Who are you my little angel…!
Tears of blood
Roll into my eyes.
Where all this will lead-
And to what destination?
This fiasco of inhumanity
Will certainly lead-
To the symphony
Of demure sepulcher,
And to an orchestral cemetery-
A diabolic deluge!
A celebration-
Of vicarious vultures! (39-40)

Though the collection has poems of various tastes like, Nature (‘Moonlit Meanderings’), Nationalism (‘My India’), Spirituality (‘Mystery of the Divine’, ‘Vision of Deliverance’), yet the poems of love (‘A New Love’, ‘Drumbeats of Dampatya’, ‘My Beloved’, ‘Love Times’, ‘Your Eyes’, ‘Your Are a Beautiful Poem’, ‘Love Song’ and ‘Come Dancing Thine Way to Mine Arms’) have remained predominant in the collection. A fine example when poet referring mythological characters writers to his wife:

The rest is a ravishing history
Of nuptial bond-with a wiggling march.
I saw a sonorous Parvathi in you
And you perceived in e a vivacious Shiva
We Vis-à-Vis- and hand in hand
Crossed the travails and thrills of life
With melodies of devotion
And enchanting drumbeats of ‘Dampatya’. (180)

The title poem ‘Vision of Deliverance’ is the finest poem of the collection both from the points of view of idea and diction. The poem is replete with evocative phrases like ‘eerie furies’, ‘hoary diadems’, ‘phallic deliriums’, ‘trembling rills’, ‘rhythmic plethora, churny gurgles, canaled thunder, and purple holes, ethereal slumber, aspen pantomime’ on one hand and beautiful alliterative phrases like ‘alphabetic acrobats’, ‘labyrinthine lilts’ ‘scissoring slops’, ‘shimmering shrieks’, ‘smithereens souls’, ‘rottening riots’, ‘puerile play’, ‘vast vista’, ‘frenzied flash’, ‘tyrannous trance’, ‘luscious light’ and ‘gurgling galaxy’ on the other. This poem is coupled with lively similes, imagery and symbols to intensify the impact of the poem. The poem commences with the volley of questions of the protagonists resulting in Neti…Neti…Neti, and-

The Moksha! The Magfirat! The Nirvana!
The blow of ‘Soor’
The drumbeat!
The Shriek of Shankh!
Deliverance! Deliverance! Deliverance! (202)

The poem has universal appeal and charm which can captivate each reader’s attention and leave a lasting impression on him. The poem can be called perfect for it is rich in rhyme, thoughts and feelings. The deep-rooted Indian ness and philosophy epitomized in the poem has made Ameeruddin a mastercraftsman of our time.

To sum up, it can be said that Vision of deliverance is a book which gives us a glimpse of India, her philosophy and consciousness and establishes Ameeruddin among the finest poets of Indian English writing.