Silent Days :

10 Jun

Jaydeep Sarangi’s Silent Days : His Hungry Heart Can Swallow the Whole World of Poems and Rhymes

 

 

Silent Days of Jaydeep Sarangi  is now eloquently silent because so many admirers of Dr. Sharangi’s  poetry  are now reading them aloud. This  is usual with a popular poet who carved out his niche as a poet with the publication of his collection of poems ,From Dulong to Beas (Authopress,2012) which established his  global reputation as a poet.  The second volume , the present one , has created a bang in the poetic  world.  An out and out Bengali poet who made his poetic debut with a Bengali book of poems , Lal Palasher Renu, shifted to English poetry writing is a blessing for a wider spectrum of readership in India . Now many more are getting Dr.Sharangi’s poetry  for appreciation which in the words of Dr.Paula Hayes ,’reach towards  asking metaphysical questions’. But the point that our renowned Indian poet Aju Mukhopadhyay raises is still very true about the poems of Dr.Sharangi  that the red soil in Midnapur where  the boy Sharangi grew up left an indelible mark on his consciousness. This is mostly felt in From Dulong to Beas, but no less so when in a poem like ‘The Red Allure’ , he sings “Longing for the red soil / Corrodes me day by day/ Like the ticking of a clock /Tick tick tick….”. But this same poet is quite comfortable in his poem ‘Missed Calls’ where he is in Tollygunj auto line or in a crowded bus : “Some calls can be received / Others are missed calls”. The beautiful line that lingers in our mind “With the aroma of chanachur and puffed rice /I remember…/ The pleadings of the boy back home- “ Bring me colour pencils today”. The homely sickness that is deeply pronounced in the Dulong poems is no less keenly felt in the crowded bus of Kolkata. What a mingling is this – the country with the city, the rural with the urban and what a graceful easy mobility in the poems of Sharangi. Just mesmerizing is the next poem  ‘For Titas’ where the poet is a Cortez busy with discovering ‘newer lands’ with ‘smaller steps’. He rightly says “ Life’s tracks are parallel /Side-by –side”. The poet is “a man speaking to men’ – wrote Wordsworth in defining the role of a poet.  Here in Silent  Days we find the poet  to be ‘Like a man directed towards / The honey of experiences”(I’m on your side).

   The great lines that Jaydeep Sharangi utters will echo throughout the ever poetic   Silent Days: “ My hungry heart can swallow/ The whole world/ Of poems and rhymes .”  This is reiterated in his poem ‘I am’: “ It is the old attire , I touch with a pen.” The touch of realism in place of sylvan romanticism is there in the lines as found in the poetry of A.K.Ramanujan : “ The diabetic bones vibrate;/The head is noisy/ The mind flows like slippery liquid’. The black crow is here an image. But in the next poem the shift towards soaring high in imagination: “ Blue wings of my imagination / Run  wild among my ruined terrace’/ Of sad history of women in our country”( A Rose is a Rose).The poet rightly feels “ Only my native within sinks/ As the rosary of pains”. The total number of poems is fifty in this volume and nearly all of which reverberate with the idea : ‘I was born as a home-bound’ (Refugee) . The same idea of home coming occurs in his other poem that follows ‘In a Home Away from Home’ and here we find the mystical  mind of the poet who envisions : “ You are there/ As the old three sisters/ Like old myths”.

How he transforms a myth into a reality in this poem and connects it to a mundane dullness of daily life. He sometimes refers to Shiva and Lakshmi on  his poetic sojourn. He sometimes talks of Cricket in ‘Cricket Australia’ only to remind us of ‘rich mythology of cricket’ where he again goes universal : “ Cricket connects continents’. A poet’s mind is an enigma for ever which Dr.Sharangi again and again dissects  and anatomises as in the poem ‘My Mind’ : I’m ready with empty heart / For a fresh war of words’. What a big leap in thought in the poem ‘ Our Journey’: “We wouldn’t come to lunch tomorrow/ It’s so far a destination/ An effort of no love / And labored glory/ Where my thoughts opened the window in a jerk”. Mind is a recurrent subject in the poems and the poet tells :” A rigid mind shivers/ With changing thoughts” . Other poems ,My Family Tree, or Mystery of Life  and  The House on the Cliff are poetic  fantasies which culminate in the poem ‘Towards the Center’ : ‘The untold legacy of subjugation” which is beautifully iconised as in Herbert’s hieroglyph poems  in the picturisation of ‘SILENCE’. The poet of red soil knows the meaning of subjugation better than many.The voice  of the Dulong Bard is more eloquent here in ‘Why This Neglect?’ : ‘None has read /Their tales of pain’. The cocluding poem is still a promise for the long pilgrimage : “Somewhere , I hear a door turning for the final time / in a silent room of its own”.  The poetic voice that delves into the questions of identity, suffering, pains and ecstasy now waits for the realization of the  ‘essence of life divine’.  Silent Days is a marvellous book with its rainbow colours, kaleidoscopic perspectives and splendid nuances which will forever  linger  in the lonely corridors  of our consciousness.Image

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Rituparna Bhattacharjee ‘s write up on Durgapuja in Unish Kuri

22 Oct

Rituparna Bhattacharjee ‘s write up on Durgapuja in Unish Kuri

Unish Kuri is an Ananda Bazar Patrika  magazine for the youth. Rituparna Bhattacharjee a popular authoress ,(also a child prodigy who published her book of stories at the age of 11) wrote in the 19 Oct ,2012 number of Unish Kuri an excellent write up on Durga Puja and the evolution over the years.

The Janus –Faced Amitav Ghosh : His Earlier Novels and the Ibis Trilogy

3 Jul

Amitav Ghosh  , in spite of his fixed home is an itinerant. By nature he  is a traveller, in his mind he is a voyager and he divides his time between Kolkata, Goa and Brooklyn.

Being one of India’s best-known writers , he had to write for many publications. including the Hindu, The New Yorker and Granta, and he has served on the juries of several international film festivals, including Locarno and Venice. He has taught at many universities in India and the USA, including Delhi University, Columbia, the City University of New York and Harvard . Amitav Ghosh is a rare breed.He bade adieu to teaching long back.He is now busy in reading and learning.  Every book means  a lot of research for  Amitav Ghosh. He studies the place. What he did in his youth is important. But even in his old age he gives equal importance to hard work  and research for writing a book. Just imagine, for writing the book, River of Smoke  at the age of  55 he  took nearly three and a half years  travelling and reading. It is to write the second book of his Ibis trilogy he spent several weeks in Guangzhou and learnt some Cantonese to depict the background of the novel which is set in Fanquit town. This explains why Amitav Ghosh  writes history and fiction equally well. In his novels  he creates an entire world out of an even a small village. In the same way he wrote book after book. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, and  The Hungry Tide. His first  novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy and his recent one is River of SmokeAmitav Ghosh‘s debut novel The Circle of Reason is an indication of great things to come. The novel does not have much of a story. It has great characters, won the Prix Medicis Etranger, one of France’s top literary awards, Portrayal of memorable characters and to  weave a neat plot out of them  is now the forte of Amitav’s novel, but it was his Achiles’s heel in The Circle of Reason. He has created memorable characters and situations in that  debut novel, but has failed to string them together in a meaty story .The storyline veers around a local would-be scientist who is in love with phrenology and goes around measuring all the villagers’ heads, and a small boy .It  turns tragic, hilarious, and profoundly philosophic . True to Amitav’s style, his characters are well etched, although he has tended to stretch the uni-dimension that he fixates on a little more this time. His attention to detail was immaculate as in his later novels, though occasionally distracting. The  boarder town hosting refugees  serves as seting for this  vivid and magical story.  The novel traces the misadventures of Alu, a young master weaver in a small Bengali village who is falsely accused of terrorism. Alu flees his home, travelling through Bombay to the Persian Gulf to North Africa with a bird-watching policeman in pursuit. This is a strange novel. In fact in this magical realism  Amitav makes a claim on literary turf held by Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie.

Amitav’s narrative represents a prodigious feat of research and the novels that follow are excellent examples of it. With a Calcutta background, Amitav who studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexandria and Oxford and his first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi developed a broad minded progressive anti-colonial  approach . His scholarly self mingled with the writer’s self in him.  He earned a doctorate at Oxford before he wrote his first novel, which was published in 1986.The Shadow Lines and The Glass Palace, which deal movingly and powerfully with post-imperial dislocations in Bengal and

Burma. The characters are delineated  with integrity and dignity. He makes historicalperspectives  real and yet the fictional depiction  of  reality has about it a contemporaneity. The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. Incendiary Circumstances,and  The Hungry Tide also earned a great critical acclaim. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the Grand Prize for Fiction at the Frankfurt International e-Book Awards in 2001. The Hungry Tide won the Hutch Crossword Book Prize in 2006. In 2007 Amitav Ghosh was awarded the Grinzane Cavour Prize in Turin, Italy.

But the shift in Amitav Ghosh’s writing occurs with his master plan of writing the Ibistrilogy.The Sea of Poppies,  the first in his Ibis trilogy has great characters and an interesting plot. The novelist focuses on the British traders’ hypocritical and self-justifying espousal of the doctrine of free trade .The theme is based on  the opium trade down the Ganges to Calcutta and towards Mauritius. The  novel  is ,however, written upon a much larger canvas than ever before, with a multitude of characters and an epic vision.There is a  colourful array of seamen, convicts and labourers sailing forth in the hope of transforming their lives. Apparently it seems that the characters are his targets. The Brits whom he depicts are basically scheming, perverse and ruthless to a man , but Ghosh has portrayed them not as  round characters who grow. They are  largely caricatures. At the end of The Sea of Poppies, the clouds of war were seen looming, as British opium interests in India pressed for the use of force to compel the Chinese mandarins to keep open their ports, in the name of free trade. Symbolically , the novel thus ends  amidst a raging storm, rocking the triple-masted schooner, the Ibis.

River of Smoke is essentially self-contained, its narrative not needing familiarity with what has gone before. The author’s sympathies are largely with the Chinese In the River of Smoke , the writer’s focus  is now shifted to the opium trade with China, centred on the coastal port of Canton. As in The Sea of Poppies, two other vessels have also been caught up in a similar storm.The Anahita, a sumptuously-built cargo vessel is here shown as  owned by the Bombay Parsi merchant Bahram Modi . Bahram Modi is the successful entrepreneur with the best view from his office, the only Indian member of the Committee of the Western-led Chamber of Commerce in Canton and the lover of a Chinese boatwoman, Chi-Mei, through whom he has fathered a son he cannot acknowledge.The ship called Anahita is  his biggest shipment of raw opium for sale in Canton. The other vessel is Redruth, a Cornish vessel with a cargo of unusual flora . The Cornish botanist who looks for rare plants ,particularly the mythical golden camellia in China is also there in the vessel. The  rounded  portrayal of characters is most  interesting aspect of the novel while in the earlier novels there is a tendency towards caricature.

Ghosh’s purpose is clearly both literary and political. His descriptions are vivid and  a lost world is revived to life. There is the air of a Victorian epistolary novel when we find the chatty letters of the gay Eurasian painter Robin Chinnery. At times, between the vivid descriptions of a riot on the maidan and the delightfully chatty letters of the gay Eurasian painter Robin Chinnery. At the same time there is the flavor of Conrad’s story especially reflected in the  stunning reversal of perspective.The author’s fine feel for nautical niceties, reminds us of the romanticised vision of writers like  James Clavell, but those writers, placed the white man at the centre of their narratives. Amitav deliberately relegates his colonists to the margins of his story.

The focus is entirely on the colonialism’s impoverished, and usually non-white, victims.They are given the central position, not the white masters. Amitav Ghosh took nearly three and a half years to write the second book of his Ibis trilogy. He spent several weeks in Guangzhou and learnt some Cantonese to depict the background of the novel which is set in Fanquit town. Most of the action occurs in Guangzhou .  Like the Sea of Poppies ,the novel which deals with opium trade in China  is also not a single linear .Like Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, the relationship  between Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke  is a ‘tangential one’ as Amitav Ghosh himself describes it.The  mash-up of fact and fiction works, coalescing into a narrative shaped by cataclysmic historical events but inflected with small-scale personal drama beautifully works here in the novel.

Amitav Ghosh is particularly good at representing the distinctive voices of his characters; what sometimes seemed forced in the earlier book is natural and convincing in River of Smoke, He exquisitely reproduces the new hybrid language resulting from the mongrel mating of tongues.For this he learns Cantonese with arduous efforts. Sometimes he does go overboard with his Hobson-Jobson; his prose is littered with words the average reader has rarely encountered, “swadders”, “buttoners”, “mumpers” and “mucksnipes”, all heard on the Canton maidan. Terms like “cumshaw”, “gubbrowed”, “girmitiyas”, “mudlarking” and “linkisters” are used so often along with words used by Indians in diverse contexts , chuck-muck as any in the city, with paltans of nokar-logue doing chukkers in the hallways and syces swarming in the istabbuls. There is even an Indian restaurant in Canton, run by a boatwoman who had grown up in Calcutta’s Chinatown. She utters  Achha  to ensure that  it would contain neither beef nor pork. River of Smoke is deliberately  written in an almost old-fashioned style, its prose straightforward and unadorned, its emotions deeply affecting. Despite the varied nationalities of his characters, the Indian reader can be left in little doubt about the author’s basic allegiance. This is an Indian novel, but one written by a 21st-century Indian, one who is both cosmopolitan and conscious of his heritage. “Democracy is a wonderful thing”, Bahram observes to a British merchant. “It is a marvellous tamasha that keeps the common people busy so that men like ourselves can take care of all matters of importance. I hope one day India will also be able to enjoy these advantages — and China too, of course.”

This is the realistic tone of Amitav in the two novels of his  Ibis trilogy, Ghosh has come a long way from the magic realism of his first novel. After  Song of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh’s second novel The River of Smoke is going to be one of the masterpieces of twenty first century Indian English literature. He is now keen on writing the third part of his Ibis trilogy.

 

Facebook Creativity – Musings Unbounded

3 Jul

Facebook is now the Tribeni Sangam or confluence of a galaxy of creative people. You can give them a local habitation on Facebook. Some of them write profoundly, and make others think still deeper. Some of them mingle philosophy and poetry. EACH POST ofFacebookis not priceless, but still some have in them wonderful creativity. The moment you log on to Facebook, these numberless multitude of poets and writers throng you. They are all independent blog writers. They will make you a Facebook addict. Facebook is for them a platform for exhibiting their creativity. Just imagine a poet whom you have heard of, talking about the new wardrobe she has, off late, purchased. She speaks of a food item which she herself cooked this week for the guests who were present at the book launch. I am not an addict, but I may defend myself by calling myself as one committed to sharing Facebook  creativity. Well, I may mention the name of a vibrant poetic soul Priyanka Dey, a student of  Delhi University of History, who established herself as a prolific writer. I was unaware of the fact that this brilliant girl is at present the managing editor of a literary magazine of India. Everyday she writes one or more poems, and her blog is a virtual stream of poems reflecting her die-hard optimism and hopeless romanticism. Priyanka is witty and her artistically managed blog priyankazneverland.blogspot.in is a wonderland that amazes the readers at the very first glance. Priyanka is an artistic soul and plays with words with ease. She says that words are her first love. She uses language in the most witty way, its greatness consists in her nurturing the language by the ethos of the Indian and as well as global culture. To Priyanka poetry is the best medium through which she can bring in change. She dreams that poetry –writing will one day be a part of the educational curriculum. Presently, she is working on her first full length novel. Only Priyanka can write on her wall: “This morning seems to be a HAHAHAHA morning!” I enjoyed the whole day the ‘Hahahahaha morning’ concept. Sometimes Priyanka goes ironical in her poetic lines : “ He hugs me too tight/And sometimes, I cannot resist./He is a fragment of my dreams/But is stronger than my memories./The night is going away, like the ebbing steam/Let me hold him tight, just one more time/The ghost under the satin sheet/Love me before you elope./My lover of today awaits/And he hates yesterday, he says.”

Who can resist the chance of making friendship with Priyanka after listening to all these lines? So I sent the friendship request to her and she accepted. Today, I am her Ratanda. My god! So aged a person I am. I too felt myself being in my youth. Facebook has rejuvenated me.

On Facebook, I also made friends with Jyotsna Gandhi, the author of ‘You Step One, He Steps Thousands!’ her debut English novel, which is going to be published by the Mahaveera Publications in mid-July this year. Jyotsna Gandhi, who is a Post Graduate in Sociology, believes that writing gives a beautiful language to the feelings and emotions of a person. In her novel she has imagined a beautiful sunrise, where you can wake up with a big smile on your face, forgetting all the tensions and realizing a deep bliss of having the Best Companion with you for whole of your life. It all sounds philosophical which I at this wrong side of fifty am yet to attain. I wait everyday eagerly for her posts on Facebook, because I discover a mystic in them. Presence of God is as real to her as it was to Blake. I teach Blake to my students without ever having seen a mystic in the true sense. Jyotsna is all that. In each of her post she feels the presence of the Almighty whom he addresses as a Friend. “Have you ever felt the presence of someone, who is being more than enough powerful to push you in the most disastrous times of your life? Did you ever know there is someone who can miraculously change your life? Well, there is no other big joy than having a companion who can make all the above questions real for you and guide you about the most complicated reality in this universe; THE LIFE.” This is how Jyotsna moves in the novel. She sounds so sublime and mature.

Life was not so easy and divine till Jyotsna realized the significance of supreme knowledge in her life. Like any other person she too had various questions, lots of complaints, deep pains, thousands of irritations, fear of losing everything. She felt being weak in all the aspects of her life; emotional, mental, physical, moral and social. She was fighting hard, crying for help to come out of the darkness that trapped her life. But one day she changed! Her all questions got solved she felt her life to be entirely transformed. All the decisions seemed right to her now. She feels blessed. I heard of Browning and Hopkins. But in the writings of Jyotsna I feel one real person like those English poets.

It is only Jyotsna Gandhi who can write on Facebook: “When HE showers His Grace in your life….no other Light is needed then!” Sometimes Jyotsna is simply amazing with her words of wisdom : “Life is not that much miserable when you Think Negative…… rather it actually becomes miserable when you Do Not have a True Guide to guide you; how to stop negative thinking!” “You Step One, He Steps Thousands!” is the tale of author’s journey of transformation; from negativity to positivism and off course the journey of Loneliness to Companionship.

It is incredible that the friend-crazy Jyotsna has her handsome hubby who can easily go for starring a Ekta Kapoor serial and her kid who looks like God’s unopened gift. She has all her domestic chores to finish when on the Sundays the maid girl bunks. Still Jyotsna goes on writing her post, responds to her messages. Oneday I had a fight with her. We stopped talking. Then she wrote a short one line mail to me : “Daa how are you, are you very busy all these days?” I could not but talk to her. We chatted whole day on so many things, including her fabulous pictures which she tagged on her wall for comments. She likes being pampered, I was surprised. The philosopher in her is also a poet.

It is here I have made friendship with a great lady Divya Dubey who is the publisher/owner of Gyaana Books, Delhi. This  former student of St Stephen’s College, Delhi; and Oxford Brookes University, Oxford published Turtle Dove: Six Simple Tales short stories. Her other short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Out–of-Print, Muse India, Kindle Magazine, and Urban Voice 4. She was shortlisted for the British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur Award, Publishing, 2010. I didn’t know that this Facebook friend of mine is so famous a person. Long live Facebook addiction.

Facebook Creativity: Lavanya Gupta , Dr.Sujata Mukherjee and Dr.Madhumita Ghosh

3 Jul

 

Facebook world never makes us unsocial. The idleness we indulge in on Facebook is ideal for creativity. For me, it is a wonderful world of creative friends such as Lavanya Gupta, Dr.Sujata Mukherjee and Dr. Madhumita Ghosh. They are very good poets. Facebook world never makes us unsocial. The idleness we indulge in on Facebook is ideal for creativity. For me, it is a wonderful world of creative friends such as Lavanya Gupta, Dr.Sujata Mukherjee and Dr. Madhumita Ghosh. They are very good poets. THE FIRST time I read some lines from Lavanya Gupta’s poems onFacebook, I was thrilled. They landed me in a realm of sensual frenzy. I could not fully believe that a poetess can be so bold and frank in her carnal images. They just hit you below the belt. ”You make me go damn wet in bed /But deep inside, i feel like a shrub/I want you to KNOW i need you badly /EVEN AFTER YOU FILL MY LEGS WITH YOUR STUFF/I want you to KISS me all night /EVEN IN THE DAYS I FLOW RED /I want you to know i need your chest To duck my face and feel i am alive /Open your eyes dammit /WHY DON’T YOU SEE/our bed is burning /BUT OUR LOVE IS DYING.” The last line of the poem contains the twist. Here, she transcends her carnality. She knows why marriage fails in Indian homes. She knows the end of love is not marriage but love. “AH, listen to me ……/Get up boyyyyy /OUR BED IS BURNINGGGGG /but our love is dying !!”

Lavanya is not my bosom friend, just a Facebook friend. I have her phone number, but I never ring her. I want her to write her poems in silence. Off late she told me that she was busy writing a novel. At a stretch she had been absent from Facebook. I missed her lively lines and limmerics. Many read her poetic lines with a scared and red-faced expressions. Some Facebook poachers got fascinated by her every sizzling lines, but they don’t know that Lavanya understands poetry. She speaks in a nasal American voice and she hates mediocrity. She can write without any hypocrisy of the middle class.

“Naked, I stand/The mirror mocks me all/I SAID – YOU LOVED ME /Mirror said – I WAS JUST YOUR DOLL /Oh god, you played /And I opened my all/Silly, I was Let me laugh it all.” What is great in her poetry is this sudden and ironic distancing. Her frankness is deceptive. The ‘I’ in her poem is not Lavanya, but she makes the readers feel, it is you, he or she or any other person. Lavanya is a totally new voice in the poetic world of Facebook. Very few come in comparison with her. Even in the hot days of summer we can appreciate the few lines that she writes about a wintry night “Wrapped in my arms/breathing in my breath/we got up wet /ah, december it was !!”

It is here on Facebook that I have met Dr. Sujata Mukherjee, the young woman of 50 who can write two books on health care in one week. The recent one is HEART VALO RAKHAR ART (The Art of Keep the Heart Going Well). Dr. Mukherjee is a health care administrator, popular health writer in ABP. She writes health books. She is a Ph.D. in Chemistry. She is the director of a renowned nursing home of Kolkata. But she always has a smiling face, engaged in the promotion and publication of her books – sometimes with Shirshendu Mukherjee or Bratati Bandyopadhyay or with Actor Prasenjit.

One cannot but feel amazed to see a Director of a Nursing Home not making money, but making people aware of their health in the unhealthy ambience of modern times. There are some very commendable aspects of Sujata’s life. Sujata is not my friend, much younger, but I can imagine she is, because she has a poetic mind. She is imaginative without writing any poetic lines. She likes travelling, celebrating birthday, dressing up, and looks cute – yes, even at the age of 50.

Dip Prakashan has published many books of Dr. Mukherjee. Some of them are ‘Dakter ke taka na diye’ (Not Paying Money to Doctor), Med Jharanor Chiching Phank (The Sesame Open of Fat Elimination) Tension ke Chhakka (Overboundary to Tension), Apnar Asukh, Apni Daktar (Your Ailment, You are the Physician) Sab Bhalo, Jar Pet Bhalo (All is well, whose stomach is well). These are serious things about Sujata. But for this younger sister of mine I feel still more deep respect when she tells nostalgically the stories of her parents only to focus the beautiful moments of conjugal life of those two old persons – their quarrels and affection for each other. A good psychological peep into the mind of the aged ones. We smile with tears trickling down our cheeks. Congrats Sujata… keep good going on Facebook.

On Facebook I read Madhumita Ghosh’s poems. She tagged many on my wall. But I never had the time to give my opinion. Not that I did not read, but that she is a learned Professor of English, poet and editor. She studied in Jadavpur University and very good in English language. I always felt a kind of scare in commenting on her poems. But she expected it from me with all her humbleness. That is a great side of her personality. She is interested in posting quotes of the great men and here she reminds me of Professor Prasenjit Chattopadhyay for whose posting of quotes I keep burning midnight oil.

Madhumita is my friend and so no longer call her Dr. Madhumita etc., and I learn so much from her essay “Switzerland of the East,” which is a mingling of fun and scholarship. Madhumita writes beautiful lines, I feel a temptation to quote : “and it rained/embalmed the world sleeps/to a lullaby of a pattering song/past misery forgotten, forgiven the gods,/blessed, in a bliss they lie/embracing dreams/as it rained”. Never read so beautiful lines after the first rains in Kolkata this summer. Sometimes, Madhumita’s humour tickles us: “‎Do not think of ‘love’ as a noun. Think of it as a verb.”

Here she plays with words as she quotes Tagore in conversation with Romain Rolland : “Words are too conscious; lines are not. Ideas have their form and color, which wait for their incarnation in pictorial art. “ Madhumita too very well knows how words are made conscious. Her ideas become pictorial on the facebook when she writes in a poem : “I wanted a few drops of love/the wind came alone/with a stale gift/of a few withered leaves” . Once her computer was not working , mouse gone. Madhumita misses all the friends and wrote funnily : “ I m not a cat, I love the mouse. My mouse is not here’. Hahahahaha..This is Madhumita who beneath her apparel of grave dignity can turn her smile into a big laugh. She makes us smile and laugh in  the same breath. So emotional she is who wanted a few drops of love. But she does not know so many Facebook friends love her so much.

 

Facebook Creativity – Preeti Singh, Jyotsna Gandhi and Varsha Singh

3 Jul

 

Man is creative. Man loves society and friendship. When two persons talk, friendship develops. Only mad people speak in monologues. Facebook encourages gossip mongers but sometimes the gossip reaches literary height, and adds new meaning to friendship. FACEBOOK HAS allowed me access into the wonderful world of Preeti Singh who has a fabulous look and one is mesmerized by her wonderful speak. Just imagine Preeti speaking this : “…when you are not there to hold me when I fall…do not expect me to connect with u when I rise….its as simple as that…” Will you call it wisdom or mystical soliloquy? One day Preeti writes: “‎…Any god forsaken place is a heavenly vacation for me…..as long as I carry you in my heart…” I mused on the words whole day. Another post of Preeti: “‎…I forgive you…coz the moments of goodness you showered upon me are priceless to me…. than the pain you carelessly dropped in my heart…” Anyone will fall in love the writer of these words. Preeti makes it clear in her profile that she does not regret her past. She just regrets the time she has wasted with the wrong people. Yes, she is like that. Words are flowing with her. ‎Preeti is now busy with writing a novel, which is going to be named as  Flirting With Fate’. During this novel’s journey…most of her daughter’s Harsheen Kaur friends desired to be in the novel…so in came Ambika Chhabra….Jaideep Beri…MuskaAn Jot…Kamaldeep Singh Jatt…and few others as naughty kids amidst the pages…..best part being their roles in the novel changed as they made up or broke off with her beautiful daughter.

It is quite interesting that Preeti sometimes looks angry but it is still her sweet words like her sweet look when she warns you not to use any foul words on her wall: “…All newcomers who have joined my world of words…please join my page and stay updated about my debut crime novel ‘FLIRTING WITH FATE’ releasing soon…..n kindly leave your comments, suggestions n feedback on my page wall….would love to hear from you and improve myself further….

Kindly refrain from any abusive comments or hurting anyone else…or you shall be sweetly blocked…This  is a problem always on the Facebook. In Indian mentality a woman, particularly a beautiful woman is always a target, be she a writer or a teacher or an IPS officer. I don’t know what Preeti will do for making a person ‘sweetly blocked’. The person who is blocked by Preeti will enjoy it even though he is denied access into her profile.

On Facebook Preeti, however, thanks all the real people for making her  book so spicy. I silently watch all these activities of the budding novelist. This is how a novel  is born. This happened also with Jyotsna Gandhi’s novel was written in the midst of so much excruciating pain. She wrote about the composition of her novel You Step One He Steps Thousands in one of her posts : “when I started writing this book….I was a bed ridden person due to a physical ailment…my right hand was swollen…and i had no option left except to continue my writing with my left hand which was actually very tough for me!! but I have no words to express my gratitude towards HIM, that HE not only chose me for this big task but also gave me Tremendous Strength to complete this book till, I wrote its last word!!”

Preeti lost her mother just when she attained motherhood and it left a cold vacuum in her soul that no other relationship could compensate. Earlier, critics used to read the letters of the writers or poets to understand the mind and art of an author. Bhabatosh Chatterjee, the late Gurudas Banerjee Professor of Calcutta University who was my teacher and Ph.D guide also studied laboriously the letters of Keats to write his famous book Keats :His Mind and Art which is today a reference book in the Oxford University.

Can we not imagine a Keats using Facebook in the early 19th century and unfurling his mind and heart in the post of Facebook? Today, we can read the fabulous letters of Keats in which the personal thoughts are mingled with the impersonal. He gave his poetic theory in these letters quite unconsciously. Tagore was another writer who also loved to write so many letters revealing his mind and art in letter after letters. He discussed beauty and truth, life and society, Russian Revolution and his reason for writing a poem like ‘Africa’.

Had that time been the Facebook, Tagore would become a facebook addict like Preeti or Jyotsna Gandhi or Bina Biswas. The word ‘Addict’ is no bad word now after the Jazz age and the Beat generation for whom addiction is a kind of meditation. Why only the novelist, the poets are no less on a Facebook page. Just remember what the socially aware Preeti wrote on the Children Day:  “Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,/Dreaming in the joys of night,/Your soft slumber is in sight,/Of the dusky misty twilight./Dimpled cheeks, angelic eyes,/Golden curls like wavy skies,/Your tender caress, your breath so warm,/Will steer away any storm./Cradling in my feeble arms/Your smile so naïve, so gay,/Treads upon my joyous heart, Like dawn…”Excellent poetry is there in the lines.

Again there are research scholars like Varsha Singh whom I am no less enamoured of for her beautiful decoration of Facebook page by fabulous pictures matching with awesome poetic lines chosen by her each day, even on the day before her NET examination. I just get thrilled. Recently, Varsha has written one erudite article on I.K. Sharma, the great poet of Rajasthan.

In this excellent article she wrote: “I.K.Sharma is the first not only to have written English poetry in Rajasthan with virtue but also to articulate himself in a more complex mode, translation. The trials and tribulations which he transforms into poetry are the issues of norm, value, culture, society and life itself. This is how Facebook brings everyday poets , novelists, painters, artists, thinkers, intellectuals and above all the readers, the gossip mongers. Yes, Syed Mujtaba Ali wrote : “Gossip has its own prestige. You have to waste your valuable time and energy for gossip. Today it is called chat or adda and the Facebook is the best platform for it. Without the gossip mongers all around , the creative people of Facebook might have felt bored. You write something and wait how many people are going to press the ‘Like’button. Hahaha.

This is normal. A poet wants readers for his poems. But many escape and try not to read the poems. In facebook it is irresistible. The person who develops friendship with you, requests for a comment. You cant avoid- that is the reason why fifty per cent posts are there. Friendship has got a new meaning on the Facebook. It is not love, not affection, not infatuation, not attraction, but something irresistible, something that chases you, your feeling, mind and heart, you log on to Facebook, visit the profile of the dear and near ones. They are not your relatives, they are not your home.

You sometimes dare neglect home for being on the Facebook. This is a great thing, a sacrifice for the middle class. Love means “L-Loss O-of  V-Valuable E- Energy”. Love of Facebook is the loss of valuable energy and also of time. But still we log on to meet excellent people such as Preeeti Singh, Jyotsna Gandhi and Varsha Singh – some young, some aged, some middle aged. But all of them have young mind, young and childlike to rejuvenate you.

 

Why is the World Oblivious of the Bi-Centenary of Robert Browning- the Poet of Love?

12 Jun

This year marks the bicentenary of Charles Dickens and also Robert Browning. Robert Browning was  born just three months after Charles Dickens , but in the same year , 1812.But for unknown reasons England and India seem to be silent on Browning.

 Robert Browning was born in the same year ,1812,as that of Charles Dickens , but he lived more till 1889. Really, history has not treated the Victorian poets kindly. Browning is less famous today than Dickens all over the world and there is not the expected revival of interest in his work. But it is really surprising that we have nearly forgotten his contribution to the Victorian literature. Writing during the age of the novel, and caught between the Romantics’ poetic riches and the modernists’ iconoclasm, Victorian poets were overlooked for much of the 20th century. Even in the 21st century ,we still feel reluctant to celebrate that he was one of the greatest poets of the Victorian period and it was he who inspired confidence at a time when all the devils of pessimism were loosed out of hell.

“Ah, Love, but a day,
And the world has changed!
The sun’s away,
And the bird estranged;
The wind has dropped,
And the sky’s deranged;
Summer has stopped.
Ah, Love, but a day,
And the world has changed!”

Browning, the poet of love sings out so spontaneously in poem after poem. His facile optimism is no longer the target of the critics, because in his poetry, he  challenged  the multitude of devils and achieved his optimism as in ‘Roland to the Dark Tower Came’, or ‘Caliban Upon Setebos’. His robust sense of life was no less significant than that of Chaucer  as Landor compared him in his beautiful poetic lines: “Since  Chaucer was alive and hale,/No man hath walked along our roads with step /So active, so inquiring eye, or tongue/So varied in discourse.”There was no other English writer of the nineteenth century who to the same degree made all human experiences his own. His poems are not poems about little children who win good-conduct prizes. They are poems of the agonies of life, poems about tragic severance, poems about failure. They range through the virtues and the vices with the magnificent boldness of Dostoevsky’s novels.

Nowhere else in English poetry outside the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer is there such a varied and humorous gallery of portraits. We find in his poems, indeed, no fastidious escape from life, but an exalted acceptance of it. Browning is one of the very few poets who, echoing the Creator, have declared that the world is good. His sense of the goodness of it even in foulness and in failure is written over half of his poems. The madman, the atheist, the adulterer, the traitor, the murderer, the beast, are portrayed in them side by side with the hero, thee saint, and the perfect woman. There is every sort of rogue here half-way between good and evil, and every sort of half-hero who is either worse than his virtue or better than his sins. He was born with a passion for living in other people’s experiences. So impartially and eagerly he did it, that even Oscar Wilde felt compelled to comment : “”Taken as a whole the man was great,” . Wilde begins – after recalling figures from the poems – by declaring that as “a creator of character he ranks next to him who made Hamlet”. 

Dramatic monologue is not his invention but whenever one talks of this literary genre, Browning’s name comes first, because ,it came of age with Robert Browning only.The objective distancing of  a poet from his themes is a part of his impersonality as an artist. The first of  Browning’s confession of his aims as an artist that the poet is no philosopher. Browning’s modernism consists in the invention of  a harsh speech of his own for common use,which  he uttered in all the varied rhythms of his poems. Thus his poems have the movement of living things. They are lacking  in smooth and static loveliness as they happen in modern poetry. It is really strange that the author of Men and women , Dramatis Personae, and The Ring and the Book is given a muted celebration of his bicentenary .Punch may lampoon him as ‘ inescapably a Victorian gentleman, but living out a fantasy of being Italian’.But Browning was cent per cent English in his thoughts and ideas. Only his subjects in some poems were Italian. Browning was known no less  for his love poems : ”O lyric Love, half angel and half bird /And all a wonder and a wild desire” sang out Browning in The Ring and the Book. Friends , why so mute about the bi-centenary of this great poet ?