“A portrait of the poet carrying all the hues the brush of time has painted over the half wrinkled canvas of her life” is how Perveiz Ali describes Dr Santosh Bakaya’s Under the Apple Boughs. A Review.
Author: Dr. Santosh Bakaya
Year of Publication: 2017
Published by: Authorspress, New Delhi
A uniqueness shared by a running water body is to carry along whatever comes in its way. The intensity of this trait is proportional to the volume of the flow. The musicality of poetic compositions of Dr Santosh Bakaya in general holds the reader’s rhythmic beats to such extent that there remains no option except to let oneself dive along the ebb and flow of her poetic universe. The more one is serious the more tasty it gets, to ride along her poetic foray.
Peace is a mockingbird singing from a tree
But alas, goes into hiding
When Goliaths come riding, riding
Striding on their high horses
Of megalomania vain.
(Peace is a Mockingbird)
Ah, sad day it was, when off his head was blown off the shelter
He ran helter-skelter, alas soon to be branded a stone- pelter!
Silent fell the hearth where no ember burnt
Of life’s vicissitudes, a cruel lesson he had learnt
Under the Apple Boughs, is the third poetic composition by Dr Santosh Bakaya after her much acclaimed poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi Ballad of Bapu and the bouquet of peace poems, Where are the Lilacs?
This poetic composition of 131 poems comprises four sections viz. Memory Shards (35 poems), Crippled Rhyme (47 poems), Nature Sings a Symphony (35 poems), and O Africa! (14 poems). It wouldn’t be unfair to name this composition a portrait of the poet carrying all the hues the brush of time has painted over the half wrinkled canvas of her life.
When we sit down after foraying through this poetic compilation and try to make a general assessment of it, various facets of her poetic calibre strike the mind. No doubt far from obscurity, hues of clarity, simplicity and lucidity surpass all other dimensions and we realize each leaf as the creation of a keen wordsmith woven with subtlety and wisdom. Once we read Memory Shards, what starts haunting the mind is the immense love and attachment to poet’s birthplace! How accurately the memories are preserved in poet’s conscious and equally their presentation reminds the reader of Michel Foucault, who says in The Archaeology of Knowledge “we must grasp the statement in the exact specificity of its occurrence”. So it isn’t enough, for greater impression, merely to pass on the memories but their lively essence too.
If only dad knew that I have seen it all before
In those golden times of yore
When the sun nestled in his eyes
So dazzling, so bright
As he looked at that kite the knickered lad
Standing next to him was flying.
Yes, the son was in your eyes, dad.
(Is That the Sun in Your Eyes?)
Ah, there was also a time when life was a series of festivities
Homemade ice-creams, mischievous screams
When the Pied piper trotted through our rooms,
Fox-trotting with the owl and the pussy cat
But our cat had no interest in the robust rat
Merrily feasting on dog-eared pages of Barnaby Rudge.
Ah, how soothingly you nursed many a grouse and a grudge.
And Time trudged on.
(A Retrospective Precious)
“I began with the desire to speak with the dead… It was true that I could only hear my voice, but my own voice was the voice of dead.”
These remarkable opening words of a pioneer neo-historicist Stephen Greenblattof his influential book Shakespearian Negotiations sum up what living hearts beat for. It is not only the beauty that mesmerises the poet; living but dead in choked airs too sends the piercing pain of tremors down the spine. In Crippled Rhyme, the poet not only cares for the present mayhem of the conflict ridden world but weeps on envisioning of shattering dreams of innocent beings that are yet to born. How hate mongers and war mongers dare to snatch their dreams for the sins they will never do and still take pride in being the so called peace keepers of human planet!
Dreams and screams
I have seen limpid eyes shedding dreams
And the air
Filling with screams
Come, let us rage on against the dying of this light.
The light that is meant to shine bright
From dreamy eyes.
But is extinguished with impunity
With brazen brutality
Just like that!
(Just Like That)
Following the trend of peerless poets of sub- continent Sarojini Naidu, Poet Kalidas, Manmohan Ghose and Rabindranath Tagore, in Nature Sings a Symphony, the poet takes great pleasure in singing the songs of intense love of nature in her own way. She is primitively involved in nature; its freshness and loveliness. Her expressions of ‘ecstasy of delight’ at the beautiful scenes of nature are self-explanatory and more or less characterized by Keatsian ecstasy and sensuousness. She does not see it as moral teacher like Wordsworth but only derives delight from its sensuous and aesthetic aspects as Keats does.
The Lidder splashed the boulders with unbridled might
Like a brat running amok, gurgling all through the night.
Its notes of peace wafted through, spreading in the air
Listened, brimming with the nervous energy of despair.
I just saw a tiny one wrapped in petrichor
Ticking away with midget sounds of yore.
That exquisite scent of the innocent earth
Mingled with chortles of juvenile mirth.
(Now You Do, Now You Don’t)
The last section O’ Africa! comprises the poems that have been written during the short visit to Accra. Experiencing the different culture and different landscape compelled the poet to paint the life and beauty of Accra in her own unique way.
Stolidly she walks, the world she mocks
She is not frail, she is not weak
Meek? Perish the thought!
Frailty is not this woman’s name
With exemplary energy imbued
She is not the damsel in distress to be rescued!
She is slowly rescuing herself from centuries of strife
The salt of tears on her tongue has long died
Look, there is a new energy in her stride.
(Stolidly She Walks)
Suspended in mid -air was a sudden shaft of light
Clouds kissing the tops of luxuriant palms
As benevolent nature unfurled its charms.
The birds chirped on with a cheery bonhomie.
A small tussle, a flexing of muscle
Silenced by the rustle of joyous leaves
(A Shaft of Light)
Summing up all, it can be said un-hyperbolically that Under the Apple Boughs will certainly fetch the author her right and honourable place in the pantheons of Indian English Poetry.
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