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.