Monday, 25 May 2015

Changing Attitude of the Indian Society towards Ageing & Disabled People as Presented in Bollywood Movies

                              “Tum hi ho Mata, Pita tum hi ho,
                                Tum hi ho Bandhu, Sakha tum hi ho.”
It is a famous song in the Indian society from ages and in this song, the Almighty God is being compared to father and mother. So such was the attitude of the Indian society towards their parents. Not only parent but earlier there was great respect for other elders including grand-parents, uncle-aunt and any other relative and neighbour. But now the society has seen a tremendous change in the attitude of people towards elders especially ageing people.
         With the advent of Globalization, commercialism and professionalism have reached its peak. With this change, the attitude of people towards religion and culture has changed. Now, there is a tremendous change in the life-styles of people. Their ways of living, dressing-sense, eating and even thinking is rapidly changing day by day. Now, life has become so fast especially in the big cities like Metros that nobody has got time for anybody. With this fast paced life, the moral values and human values are also degrading.
          We can easily see this in the behaviour and attitudes of the today’s youth. As we see in the present generation there is a degradation of mannerism. Now, the young generation is becoming more and more free, liberal, independent and modern. They have their own thinking and ideologies regarding different aspects of life. The philosophy of existentialism is rapidly increasing in the nature and attitude of today’s youth including students. Now they want to have their own individual freedom, choice and existence. So in the attainment of all this they are even going away from the path of moral values. They are also attaining many evil practices like- cyber crimes, consumerism; instill trust worthiness and many other things. Now the present generation does not want to respect their elders including their teachers.
         This can also be easily seen in the Bollywood movies. Films & cinema have become a part of every individual life. It is movies from which mostly people and especially youths are being inspired. It is believed that films & cinema are spoiling the society and now they have become the base of changing culture in the society. But they are the reflections of the society only. Mostly in the Bollywood movies we see that parents are very much loved by the hero and heroine. It is only in some cases and it is often the heroine’s father, who being an evil person, may be an underworld don is hated by the heroine as he does not allow her to marry the hero. There are many examples like- Karan Arjun (1995), Kaho Naa Pyar Hai (2000).
         In the movie Bagbaan released in 2003, we see the parent who not fairly treated by their children. A father, (role played by Amitabh Bachchan) who has given his whole life for fulfilling the needs of his children and the mother, (role played by Hema Malini) who has nurtured her children are not being look after by their children. They don’t want to keep them in their houses as they consider it difficult to fulfil their needs. A contract is made between all four brothers to keep either mother or father for 3 months each. Moreover they also don’t like their advice as they consider it to be interference in their privacy and freedom.
          This is the reflection of the society as we see now that in this fast changing and commercial world, now nobody has time to sit and talk to elderly people of their own homes rather instead of it they like to go for an outing, movie or any other enjoyment. They are being deprived of love, care and attention of their own children in many houses. Elderly people feel so neglected in their own homes that they become victims of many mental weaknesses and diseases. Sometimes they even try to commit suicide. There are many examples of these types of cases we see and hear in newspaper, magazines and televisions.
Now, we see that many Old Age homes have been made in many cities to look after the old people because they have been neglected by their own children.
          As now people don’t like to keep their parents at their houses which are resulting in the increase of many evils in the society like degradation of culture and mannerism, theft, robbery, murders and many other crimes. Parents those who are not able to look after their children properly and being neglected they are sometimes indulge in many mal-practices. Because of this, now there is a rise of juvenile crimes in our country and the society is very badly affected by it. Even children are being themselves victims of many mis-happening like kidnap, rape and murder because there was no body to look after them properly in their own homes.
         Earlier our society was considered as a society based on moral values, culture and tradition because young people were always guided by older people, not only of their family but also their society and community. But with the rise of globalization and westernization, everything has changed, which has a bad effect on the society as slowly and slowly moral values, culture and tradition everything is vanishing.
         But in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam released in 2001 we see the portrayal of idealistic sons who have great respect for their parents and other elders of the family. There is a depiction of moral and cultural values in the family. In Hum Sath Sath Hai released in 1999, we see an ideal family in which all the family members care and love each other very much. They also gave respect to their elders. The story is quite similar to the great epic, Ramayana.
         But these values are rapidly decreasing in today’s youth and now each individual wants to lead an existential life i.e. individual freedom, choice and existence and hence does not want to live in bondages of any kind. He/she does not want to live according to the strict rules & regulations imposed by the elders. So for this purpose they like to live separately from their elders. As now, we see that the joint family system is slowly and slowly vanishing from the society and giving way to nuclear family system. Married couple does not want to bear the responsibility of their parent’s and don’t want to live according to their wishes. The increasing commercialization had led to the rise of materialism and the demand of money. So to lead a prosperous life, it is necessary that both the husband and wife should work. And sometimes for better option they leave their parent’s homes to establish themselves in big cities. Moreover, the un-married youth, also want to live a free and liberal life and so for this purpose they prefer to live in hostel instead of their own homes.
        Suryavansham, a 1999 Hindi drama by legendry hero Amitabh Bachchan is a sensitive movie regarding the relationship of father-mother, their son and daughter-in-law. Amitabh Bachchan playing the dual role of father and son is supported by Jayasudha, Soundarya, Rachana Banerjee, Anupam Kher and Kader Khan. Although the movie didn’t do well on financial ground but it is highly praised for its storyline and lyrics. The movie is a story common Indian family, where priority is given to the esteem of the family. As an average Indian story, it is exemplary depiction of the liabilities of a responsible father with a son who is dutiful, wife who is virtuous and the family unified by psychological bonds.
         So there are very fine examples of Bollywood movies dealing with the ageing issue from the beginning of its history till now and many more to come in the near future.
         Disability, another weakness of humanity is accepted in a different way in an Indian society. In the Indian mythology, it is believed that anybody who has possessed any kind of disability is because of the evil deeds of his previous birth for which he/she has been punished. It is cursed for which he has to suffer. So the Indian attitudes to disability is two forms of mythology: the traditional Hindu myths which still play an important role in shaping social norms and values, and the “modern myth machine” of Bollywood, which has impacts on popular culture and society.
            In Hindu mythology, the portrayal of people with disabilities is overwhelmingly negative, but also exhibits a strong gender bias in terms of the perceived capacities of disabled men and women. Disabled men in the Hindu myths are in some cases powerful and capable people. We can see the example of the visually impaired king Dritarashtra and the orthopedically impaired Shakuni, are the representative of the forces of evil in the Mahabharata war. Such people were although powerful but evil and cruel disabled men.
There is another image being reinforced by historical figures such as Taimur Lang. In contrast, women with disabilities in Hindu mythology are simply irrelevant. A prime example comes in a story from the Karthik Poornima, where Lord Vishnu refuses to marry the disfigured elder sister of Lakshmi, saying that there is no place for disabled people in heaven. The sister is instead married to a peepul tree.  
            In Bollywood films there are several common images of disabled men and women. There are some common features of portrayal of disabled men and women in the cinema. Firstly, the disabilities of hero or heroine are typically acquired after birth rather than congenital, “normalizing” the actor somewhat. Equally, the disability is quite often cured during the course of the film. In addition, the stars are often from better-off socio-economic strata, with resources to promote their integration, though they remain often dependent on others.
           Apart from these similarities, there are also gender differences in perceptions of disabled people in Bollywood movies. First, men with disabilities feature far more often than women with disabilities. Second, men with disabilities are often loved by a devoted woman without disabilities (as in Saajan released in 1991), whereas women with disabilities are rarely loved by men without disabilities (and in cases where they are such as Mann, the men loved them before the onset of disability). Third, women with disabilities almost never attain economic self-sufficiency. While male stars with disabilities may not be very wealthy, they can attain such independence. Finally, the disabilities that women are portrayed with are very rarely ones that impact their physical appearance, so that they largely remain beautiful. Overall, women with disabilities in India cinema are doubly weak – women and women with disabilities. This contrasts to more frequent portrayals in Hollywood cinema of women with disabilities who have strength and discover independence.          
          The movie, Vivah released in 2006 is an example where we see a physically affected woman being accepted by the hero. The story is that two young people, the role played by Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao who are engaged have developed liking for each other. Unfortunately a misfortune occurs before the wedding and the girl is caught in the fire. Although she is saved but her body is burnt including face. But the hero, who is shown to be an ideal man, accepts her with her flaws.
          However, it is also a fact that many films have sought to enhance the sensitivity of society towards the needs, rights, sensibilities and potential of people with disabilities. Dosti, being produce under Rajashri Production’s was released in 1964. The movie is a best illustration of leading characters dependency due to disability. We see the friendship of two friends, in which one is lamb and the other one is blind. But being good singer and noble men are being loved by many people. Another example of fine illustration of leading characters depending due to dependency is Gulzar’s Koshish released in 1972. It is a highly sensitive movie focusing on deaf-mute couple, a classic role played by sensitive actors Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bachchan. Gifted with disabilities they are leading a secluded life but facing the outer world with their courage and determination. Sparsh released in 1984 by Sai Paranjpe is a poignant film on this issue. It is different from previous movies as it depicts the conflicts between disabled with those of able-bodied. Based on conflicts it highlights various complexes and issues related with the mental approaches and sensitivity of able-bodied and disabled people. Naseerudin Shah, the leading character of the movie is a blind man. He is the centre of all the activities. A performance very well played by him giving a prolific touch to the film.
         Gujarish released in 2010 is a highly sensitive movie, revealing the story of a physically handicapped hero who was earlier a painter but now is willing to die because of his disabled plight. He asks mercy from his government to allow him to commit suicide or to kill him but is not granted. In Koi Mil Gaya (2003), the mentally handicap hero is being loved by a beautiful girl. Some other examples are; Jagriti, Main Aisa hi hoon, to name few.
         Lagaan is an excellent example of a mainstream film that has highlighted the process of inclusion of a Dalit disabled person. Released in 2001, it is about land tax during the times of Britishers. In the absence of opportunities for interaction between people with disabilities and society at large, such films have played an important role in highlighting aspects of the lives of people with disabilities that are not clearly understood and in dispelling myths and biases that society holds about them. Films such as those noted have also demonstrated the attempt of non-disabled people to understand people with disabilities. 
          So disability has been portrayed in Hindi movies from the beginning but recently commercial movies have started a trend and that is focusing on some rare diseases which are in form of disability. There are many new diseases explored by Bollywood in the movies and the role of victims being played by leading stars and superstars like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and others. Through this they are also creating awareness among the masses for those diseases which are not known to masses. The best part of these movies is that they don’t show the disable person to be a poor mean creature rather a strong individual. So they teach us not to sympathises with them but treat them with love, care and affection.
          Sanjay Leela Bansali released Black in 2005 which is considered as a historic film focusing on a deaf-mute and blind girl played by actress Rani Mukherjee. She is also suffering from a brain disorder causing senility named as ‘Alzhemeir.’ Earlier Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed Khamoshi-The Musical (1996) which is also based on the theme of disability. Starring Salman Khan, Manisha Koirala, and the role of disable parents of Heroine is being played by Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas. The movie as the name suggests is musical in nature with music in its background. The movie tells the story of deaf and dumb parent who inspire their daughter to make her career in music. So it is a movie based on disabilities of parents being dependent on their children.
         Khamoshi was not as successful as is Black because of its intensity and passion. Rani Mukherjee named as Michelle McNally acted very immensely the role of a blind, deaf and mute girl who is a high spirited girl. In her childhood she was inflicted by an illness resulting in her plight for lifetime. The title of the movie Black symbolises the life of Michelle which is dark as she lives without sight, sound and words to speak. She is shrinking in her dark world and is not able to breathe properly until a teacher named as Debraj Sahay played by Amitabh Bachchan comes in her life and makes a difference by moulding her personality. He teaches her the meaning of words and how to express them. By the influence of her teacher, Michelle develops a sense of pride to live as a strong individual by deciding to graduate from college. But there are many hurdles in her life- she has to face the world which has a different perception to deal with disable person; even her teacher becomes mentally disturbed. Michelle being firm in her decision pursues her goal facing all challenges and narrates her story of victory.
         Taare Zameen Par which was released in 2007, directed and acted both by Aamir Khan is a phenomenal film. Being very successful at box office it has highlighted a disease named as ‘dyslexia’ which is found in children. In the movie, there is an eight year old boy, played by Darsheel Safary who is suffering from this disease. It is an important film of the deade focusing an eight year old child who is suffering from ‘dyslexia.’ The child suffering from this disease has difficulty with learning, decoding the word, spelling, reading accurately and fluently. The movie teaches the parents to understand the problem of their children and try to remove them. It also gives a strong message that ‘every child is special’ and if they are not academically good then they can be good in other field. So there is a need to understand their talent and give them right direction. Aamir Khan starring Ghajni released soon after Taare Zameen Par in 2008 depicts the character of a person who after injury has develops a disorder named as Amnesia which means ‘short-term memory loss. As depicted in the movie, amnesia is a forgetful film with a short memory span for just few minutes.
          In the same year in 2008, U Me Aur Hum starring Ajay Devgan was released. The movie focuses on a disease which is not so known by people, ‘Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a mental disorder named after German physician Alois Alzheimer. As a progressive and fatal brain disease it is still not curable. It is irreversible disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking power leading to the loss of ability to do even simplest tasks.
           Paa, is a remarkable film released in 2009, it will always be remembered for the performance of Amitabh Bachchan. The movie is all about a child who is suffering from a rarest disease, ‘Progenia.’ It is a very uncommon and terrible disease which ages the body many more times faster than normal leaving teens with frail bodies of people nearing 100 years old while not damaging the intelligence of the person. So it is an accelerated aging disease which is found rare. But the most dangerous thing is that the child experiencing the disease has life expectancy from 10 years to 23 years. Amitabh Bachchan is playing the part of the boy, Auro who is suffering from progeria. He is a 12 years old intelligent and witty boy but suffering from this genetic disorder. His mental level is of his age but physically he five times older.
           Auro is a cheerful boy, very much loved by his mother who is a gynaecologist, the role played by Vidya Balan. Amol Arte, a politician is his father who has left his mother before his birth. He a cold blooded politician is on a mission to prove the world that ‘politics’ is a bad word. Amol is unknown that Auro is his son because of the concealment by Vidya. They both met in the school when Amol visited and took him to Delhi to see the President’s house. Auro knowing about his father want to unite him with his mother. Though Vidya still feels hurts but for Auro’s sake she forgives Amol, who is happy to have his wife and son in his life. When Auro reaches his 13th birthday, his health deteriorates as his physical health catching up. He being successful in his attempt to unite his parents, succumbing to his disease says his last words, “Maa” and “Paa” before dying with smile on his face.
          My Name is Khan which was released in 2010 starring Shah Rukh Khan is considered as a milestone in the Indian film industry for the theme as well as acting of the hero who is suffering from a disease named as Asperger’s Syndrome (asperger). It is a neurobiological disorder, a kind of autism illness. The person suffering from this disorder finds it very difficult to interact socially. He/she has a normal intelligence and language development, but exhibits autistic-like behaviour and their lack in social and communication skills is clearly visible.
         Anurag Basu’s ‘Barfi’which was released in September 2012 is remarkable film on disabilities of two persons. Actors Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra have played the lead role in it. The movie is believed to change the perception about the abilities of the disabled in the Hindi cinema as earlier for mainstream cinema it was difficult to seamlessly integrate the differently-abled into its plotline. The main character of the movie is Barfi who is deaf and dumb but still he enjoy every moment of his life with smile on his face whatever the situation is. Though he works around in imperfections but he takes everything as it is. He falls in love with a girl named Shruti, a role played by Illeana D’Cruz. She too falls in love with him because of his innocence, mischievous and happy go lucky self. Although loving him so much she marries somebody else because of the pressure of family and society. Though being failing in love, he begins his life in a new way by giving chance to autistic girl named as Jhilmil Chaterjee (Priyanka Chopra) to enter into his life. He is able to understand the girl and thus a bond is developed between the two.
         Disability has been depicted in different ways in different movies. While some have shown disability as dependence, others have not. So we can say that films are also inspiring and working for the upliftment of the disabled people. There are many NGOs who are working for betterment of old and disabled people. Some NGOs are organizing training workshops for people with disabilities on film making, and conducted sensitization sessions with Indian scriptwriters and film-makers. They are also seeking financial support to establish a national disability film and communication centre which would conduct research on portrayal of disabled people in film and media, develop an archive of films on disability issues, sensitize film makers, journalists and other media people, and directly support film makers, in particular disabled film-makers, through availability of basic equipment and studio facilities.
         But being human it is also our moral duty to love, respect and give proper care and attention to the old and disabled people whether in our family or in neighbourhood.

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2. Bhugra D (2006), Mad tales from Bollywood: Portrayal of Mental Illness in Conventional Hindi Cinema, Maudsley Monographs, Psychology Press.
3.  Bollywood into Diseases- Dyslexia, Alzheimer, Amnesia, Progeria and Asperger, (Jan 12, 2010), TELLYONE, [Online: web], URL:, [Accessed: 20 Sept. 2012]
4. Downing, John D.H. (1987), Film and Politics in the Third World. New York: Praeger Publishers.
5. Swaminath G and Bhide Ajit (2009), Cinemadness: In Search of Sanity in Films, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Oct-Dec; 51(4), pp. 244-246.
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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Book Review of Diorama of Three Diaries

Diorama of Three Diaries
Book Review:
Diorama of Three Diaries
(A Collection of Poems by Sonnet Mondal)
Authorspress (Pages-165)
ISBN: 978-81-7273-610-1
Year of release:-2011
Review By: Dr Shamenaz
Associate Professor
Dept. of Applied Sciences & Humanities
AIET, Allahabad.
Diorama of Three Diaries
(A Collection of Poems by Sonnet Mondal)
Poetry is something which comes out from a writer’s mind, heart and sometimes even soul. This is true in the context of Sonnet Mondal, who is a rising star in the sky of Indian English Poetry. His Diorama of Three Diaries is a collection of poem based on many themes like- nature, spirituality, mysticism, problems relating to his country and world.
The very first poem, The Wait seems to reflect the agony of a person. May be Sonnet Mondal is depressed to see the present plight of his country and his state and he has tried to show the pathetic situation of the poor people but he is also hopeful that a new beginning will come.
The Poem, “My Pencil, Eraser & Pen” seems to be a subjective poem by the poet as it shows his attitudes towards writings. He is very passionate about writing poetry and this passion is reflected in some of his poem like- Suppressed, Stepping with Clouds, Flying Muse, and Oh Olive and You Realize It Now.
There are many other subjective poems like- Virus, I Am Not, Searching with Folded Hands, My Dismantled Room, I Want to Fly, Drunk, An Eve With a Stranger, Stay Alert For Surprises, I Won’t Run, Stoniness Turns Playing Cards, My Shadow, Grip Me, Turning Pages, My Style describing about different situations of his life.
He has written some love poems like, Those Soft Fingers, Love and Walnut and Make me Flow. While Those Soft Fingers shows his desperation of love for someone, Make me Flow seems to show his deep love for somebody. Here, he seems to be agreeing with Wordsworth’s belief that, “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, where emotions recollect its tranquillity.”
He sometimes seems to be inspired by Wordsworth as there are clear inclinations of his motivation which can be seen in the poems like- Seduced in the Sunderbans, Oh Olive, Southern Summer Winds, Butterflies and Mosquitoes, Snow in Spring. Southern Summer Winds shows his deep love and fascination for nature. In Butterflies and Mosquitoes, he has shifted his focus on tiny creatures of nature, butterflies and mosquitoes.
The poem, Seduced in the Sunderbans describes about a delta, Sunderban in West Bengal and Eyes and Skies is about a region in Karnataka (India), known as Donimalai which is surrounded by mines. The poet seems to give its description and his experience.
He has also shown sensuousness of human nature in some poems like- Lost in the Lust, Lusty, She-Fears, Kisses, Valentine Hides In Shadow, in which he has depicted the feelings of both men as well as women.
Poetry is understood by many writers and authors as an ‘expressive’ of the human soul. Mill has declared that ‘poetry, when it is really such, is truth; and fiction also, if it is good for anything, is truth: but they are different truths. The truth of poetry is to paint the human soul truly; the truth of fiction is to give a true picture of life. Sonnet Mondal seems to believe it as there are some mystical poems in the collection like- The Lovely Highway (also based on loss of faith & belief), Mythical Chain of Life, Fear, Last Life, A Call Through Misty Eyes, Darkness Inside, Dying Every Day For Life, Let Us Be Safe, Last Life, The Lonely Highway, Religion of Nomads and Fear.
There are some poems which deal with the change of human nature like- Springs, Volvo which shows that how man in present scenario is becoming lavish and ease-living day by day which seems to be inspired from Browning and there are some poems dealing with scientific advancement like- Virus.
He has written some poems keeping in mind the fast changing world like- Ashes Won’t Claim Honour, Comprehend Not Waste, Let Me Bloom, I Am Not. Some poems seem to be based on Arnoldian style like- Perforations, Two Faces.
“Plato believed that poetry and literature are inextricably tied up with the values and ideologies of the culture as a whole: art is not separate from the socio-political sphere. This is reflected in some of the poems of Sonnet Mondal like Shirts of Politics, High Time, Turn Back, Clear Your Home, all these poems are about today’s life. There are poems about problems existing in our country and world- Reforming Norms, Night of Appeal, Stay Alert for Surprise, The Blacksmith and his Diamond.
The poem Just A Last Peg For The Jobless is the description of the anxiety and desperation of the jobless people. Mondal seems to show his concern about people who are unemployed.
Poet has highlighted the importance of a little phrase in our daily life in the poem, Say Cheese. He seems to sometimes feel panic about the age-old customs and traditions and wants to reform the society, this he has reflected in his poem, Reforming Norms and Your Life Is Over.
He has shown various ages of human beings while writing poem on old age- Through Cracks and Wrinkles and on childhood- Childhood Sounds. Cracks and Wrinkles shows us the wretched condition of old people. In Ponds of My Tears he seems to be nostalgic about his childhood days when he uses to go to pond with his grandfather. But now as his he has grown up and his grandfather, who has become old and can’t go with him for fishing to the pond, so he seems to be feeling depressed about those days.
The poem, Drunk is about a person’s addiction to alcohol. It tells about the effect the alcohol on a person and An Eve with a Stranger, is about the meeting of the poet with a stranger. There are some poems which are symbolic to some situations like- Legs and Floor, Swaying Bridges of Senescence, Venom of Futility, Night of Appeal, The Dog in the ATM, Beware, Glasses and Who Is This Man . He seems to be agreeing with the views of Mathew Arnold in his famous book of criticism, The Study of Poetry. “Poetry”, according to Matthew Arnold, is a criticism of life under the conditions fixed for such a criticism by the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty. And this he interprets as the application of ideas___ grand ideas- to life.
The poem, Two Eyes is about a bride which is being carried in a bullock cart. It also tells a story hidden behind the veil. The Story, of a young woman and a man in a village but now, who are married and have become two separate lives and Sliding Joy is also about marriage.
There is a beautiful poem, Earth Without Eyes, in which he seem to show his worry over the destruction of the natural objects like rivers, ponds seas and so on and he is deeply concern about the effect of this destruction. And again there is a concern for environment in the poem- Let Them Fly Away, in it he is trying to convey the message regarding the hazard caused by using polythene. The poem, Tears of a Window Pane is about the description of rain from a window of a house.
Showing his concern on health problems, he has written, Health, Deity of Spotlessness, After Rainfall, Last Flash Awareness in which he his reflecting his views on some diseases.
The Poet has shown his hatred towards the politicians and the dirty side of politics of his state in the poem, Shirts of Politics, which show his anger and hatred and at the same time there is hope that people will rise and fight against it. Having a deep regard for the soldiers, he has expressed his gratitude towards their bravery, selflessness and loyalty towards their nation in the poem, Turn Back, Clear Your Home. And he has expressed his deep love for his country in Your Name and Let My Tears Find You.
The poems- Lonely Book in Book Fair, Savour is about literary world. Lonely Book in Book Fair seems to tell about the present condition of attitude of society towards books. Poet seems to feel depressed about people’s attitudes towards books and Searching With Folded Hand is about his attitude, feelings and thinking towards his own writing and Expression seems to be about the plagiarism existing in the literary world today.
There are some poems which are memoirs like- My Garden in which he seems to remember his mother’s love for their garden and Years After seems to show his nostalgia about his College days. In the poem, he is expressing his desire to go back to those days when he had enjoyed with his friends in his Engineering College. He is missing the fun and excitement of the College canteen and other places, which he can’t do now, so he is longing to go back.
Mostly the poems in the Diorama of Three Diaries are written in blank verse and free verse. Poet has tried to show his innermost feelings for some issues and has dealt successfully with many themes in the book. All these poems are reflections of his intellect, creative mind and sensitivity.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Book Review of The Dance of Peacock by Vivekanand Jha

Jha, Vivekanand. The Dance of Peacock. USA: Hidden Book Press, 2013.
ISBN 978-1-927725-00-9 (pbk.)
Reviewed By: Dr Shamenaz, Associate Professor & Head, Dept. of Applied Sciences & Humanities, Allahabad Institute of Engineering & Technology, Allahabad
The Dance of the Peacock is an anthology of English poetry from India by Vivekanand Jha. It is the poetry collection consisting poetry composed by Poets of 21st century. He has dedicated the poetry collection to Maa & Bapuji.
The Dance of the Peacock is a symbolic title used by the Editor. It is so because as peacock is our national bird and its dance is a spectacular display in the same way the book is showcasing contemporary Indian poetry in English by Indian and diasporic Indians. As India is considered as a country of unity in diversity so in the same way the anthology is the celebration of this diversity; focusing poets from many different states of India having different mother tongues and poets of diasporas, residents of United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The book not only includes many renowned poets but also newer, unknown or neglected poets.
The anthology consists of 151 poets from various parts of the world: A J Thomas, Abhay K, Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, Aju Mukhopadhyay, Akhil Katyal, Akshat Sharma, Allabhya Ghosh, Amalan Stanley V, Amarendra Khatua, Amarendra Kumar, Ambika Ananth, Ami Kaye, Amol Redij, Ananya S Guha, Anita Nair, Anju Makhija, Anna Sujatha Mathai, Aparna Kaji Shah, Arbind Kumar Choudhary, Archna Sahni, Arman Najmi, Arundhathi Subramaniam, AshaViswas, Ashoka Sen, Ashoke Bhattacherjee, Asoke Chakravarty, Bibhu Padhi, Binod Mishra, Bipin Patsani, Bishnupada Ray, C D Norman, C. L. Khatri, Chandini Santosh, Chandra Shekhar Dubey, Charu Sheel Singh, D. C. Chambial, Debjani Chatterjee, Deepak Thakur, Devashish Makhija, Durlabh Singh, Geetashree Chatterjee, Gopa Nayak, Gopal Lahiri, Gopikrishnan Kottoor, H K. Kaul, Harish K Thakur, Hazara Singh, Hiranya Aditi, Jayanta Mahapatra, Jaydeep Sarangi, K N Daruwalla, K. Pankajam, K. Satchidanandan, K. Srilata, K. V. Dominic, K.V. Raghupathi, Kanwar Dinesh Singh, Karan Singh, Katta Rajamouly, Kavita Jindal, Khurshid Alam, KK Srivastava, Krithika Raghavan, Kulbhusan Kushal, Kumarendra Mallick, Lakshmi Priya, Lalita Noronha, M. V. Sathyanarayana, Malay Roy Chaudhary, Mani Rao, Menka Shivdasani, Michelle Cahill, Mihir Chitre, Mohineet Kaur Boparai, Mona Dash, Monika Pant, Mukta Sambrani, Mustansir Dalvi, Naina Dey, Nandini Sahu, Nikesh Murali, Nuggehalli Pankaja, O.P. Arora, P C K Prem, P K JOY, P K N Panicker, Pashupati Jha, Poornima Laxmeshwar, Prabhanjan K. Mishra, Prabhat K. Singh, Prahlad Singh Shekhawat, Pramila Venkateswaran, Prathap Kamath, Pravat Kumar Padhy, Preeta Chandran, Priscila Uppal, Pritha Kejriwal, Puneet Aggarwal, R C Shukla, R J Kalpana, Ram Krishna Singh, R Raj Rao, Raja Nand Jha,

Rajashree Anand, Ramendra Kumar, Ranu Uniyal, Ravi Shankar, Rizvana Parveen, Romi Jain, Rudra Kinshuk, Ruth Vanita, Samartha Vashishtha, Sarada Purna Sonty, Satish Verma, Seema Aarella, Semeen Ali, Shamsud Ahmed, Shanta Acharya, Sharad Chandra, Shefali Shah Choksi, Shloka Shankar, Shobhana Kumar, Sindhu Rajasekaran, Smita Agarwal, Smitha Sehgal, Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Sonjoy Dutta-Roy, Sonnet Mondal, Soumyen Maitra, Sreelatha Chakravarty, Stephen Gill, Subhash Misra, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Sunil Sharma, Sunita Jain, Syed Faizan, T. Vasudeva Reddy, Tejdeep Kaur Menon, Usha Akella, Usha Kishore, V.V.B. Rama Rao, Vandana Kumari Jena, Vasuprada Kartic, Vibha Batra, Vihang A Naik, Vinay Capila, Vinita Agrawal, Vitasta Raina, Vivek Naraynan, Vivekanand Jha & Yasmin Sawhney.

Jha has tried to explore and also discussed hidden talents in the cerebrum of the contemporary Indian English poetry. He believes:
“Thus this compilation of poems will give a rich variety and
freshness to poetry lovers. I don’t know how others will
receive this contemporary, which is now left to the ravages
of time, but to me it is a dream come true, though I admit,
am a mere instrument of representing to a galaxy of coveted
and legendry poets in the worldwide panorama of Indian
English poetry.” (xvii)

So it is an attempt by Jha to show all the colours of the contemporary Indian English poetry. There are wide ranging theme in the anthology ranging from nature, social, political to subjective.

The very first poem, ‘Concentration’ by A. J. Thomas is a subjective poem dealing with Hebrew ideology. The next poem by him is ‘Desdemona’ which is a classic dramatic character by Shakespeare. The poet, Abhay K. has tried to describe the history witnessed by the city, Delhi, about an historical monument and other important place in his poems; ‘Delhi’, ‘Qutub Minar’ & ‘Shastri Bhawan.’ In contrary to this Shanta Acharya’s has describe about a Western city London in her poem, ‘London Eye.’
Anita Nair, Gopa Nayak , Poornima Laxmeshwar and Yasmin Sawhney have written some subjective poems like, ‘Ministry of Deceit’, ‘Hello Lust’, ‘You Said I Agreed’, ‘Whisky Whispers’, ‘A Time of Celebration’, ‘I Had Put Mehendi That Evening’, ‘The Night’and ‘A Letter’ and ‘Ode to Daughter.’ Their female sensitivity and emotions are clearly reflected in all these poems.

Amol Redij through his poem, ‘Gendercide’ has highlighted the issue of killing of baby girl still prevalent in the Indian society. In the same way Semeen Ali’s has also raised her voice against female subjugation in poems like ‘The Red Wall’ and ‘Closed Mind.’ Semeen Ali through her symbolic poem has revealed the women’s lives which are confined to the four walls of the houses. Tejdeep Kaur Menon has also raised the issue of women’s security and plight in his poems, ‘Charcoal’, ‘Have You Been Raped’, ‘Me, Myself’ and ‘Oysters in Pain.’
K. Satchidanandan has translated some of the Malyalam poems in English viz, ‘A Man with a Door’, ‘A Discourse on Non-violence’, ‘Burnt Poems’, ‘Gandhi and the Tree’, ‘Old Women’, ‘Self’ & ‘Stammer.’ While Shamshud Ahmed’s ‘Empty!’ is a subjective poem in which poet seems to be nostalgic about his childhood. It is also a poem which is a kind of self assessment.
Poets have always used various symbols to convey their feelings and emotions, in the present anthology also there are some symbolic poems like ‘The Unborn Poem’ by C. D. Norman and Gopal Lahiri’s ‘Stiching Stars.’

Ashoka Sen has translated the Bengali poem of great Rabindranath Tagore into English named as ‘Africa.’ While there are some poems based on love as theme, for eg, Ambika Anand’s ‘When in Love’ and ‘Life Reasons’, Deepak Thakur’s ‘Of Sky and Earth’
C. L. Khattri’s ‘Peaceful Soul’, ‘River’, ‘Walking Alone’ D. C. Chambial’s ‘Om’, ‘Beyond the Yonder Hills’, C. D. Norman’s‘Eternal Dust’ and ‘Concealed Wound’ , Kulbhushan Kushal’s ‘The Perils Ahead’ and Karan Singh’s ‘To Lord Shiva’ are philosophical poems. These writers have poured their religious feelings into their poems. While Debjani Chatterjee has written, ‘Angulimala’ and ‘Ravana’ based on villain in Indian mythology.

Deepak Thakur’s ‘On Death of Mother’ is a very emotional poem, it is an elegy based on a son’s love for his mother. The poet is missing his mother very much and asking her to forgive him because he was not able to cry much on her death. As he says:
Mother! Forgive me
I could not offer homage of tears
on your death.
Above lines depicts poet deep love for his mother who has died leaving him alone in this materialistic world.

The collection also includes poems of some great contemporary poets of India like Keki N. Daruwalla’s ‘Wolf’, Stephen Gill’s ‘Peace’, ‘Parents Had Sadistic Streaks’, ‘For the Baby Inside’, ‘My Dove’, ‘Flight of My Dove’ and ‘To A Dove’ and K. V. Dominic’s ‘Beauty’, ‘Crow, the Black Beauty’, ‘Musings on My Shoes.’
Khurshid Alam’s ‘Border’ is a very short poem but having a deep meaning in it. As the lines indicates:
Each border crafted on the land
engraves a ditch in the heart
then a heart is born
that tears the body
a terrible war is written
the divide cannot be unwritten.

Krithika Raghavan’s ‘A Song of the Fairy Queen’ is a ballad which is basically poet’s imaginary dream. The poem seems to be of romantic period. There is another poem, ‘Mystic Slopes’ by Sarada Purna Sonty’s which seems to resemble with William Worthworth’s famous poem ‘Solitary Reeper.’

Smita Agarwal has written some very beautiful poems like ‘The Map’, ‘Joyride (for papa)’, ‘Transformation’ and ‘Angrezi Vangrezi.’ Joyride (for papa)’: as the name indicates is a poem which the poetess has written in the memory of her father. In the poem she conveys her deepest love and gratitude towards her father whom she admires very much. She begins the poem, ‘Transformation’ with the quotes of Jefferson’s “...I can’t live without books ...” and Ernest Hemingway’s “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” ‘Angrezi Vangrezi’ is a satirical and humorous poem describing about the Indian way of speaking English.
Sharad Chandra’s ‘How Selfish is Human Love’ is a philosophical poem based on human emotions. He believes that human beings are selfish and their love towards their love ones is because of their own interest. As he says:
I say I miss you
but I do not miss you
for the sake of missing
I miss you because you are mine
you give happiness
care, comfort, and warmth
to a life otherwise cold and dreary.

Shefali Shah Chokri’s has written ‘Mirror Women’ in I, II, III, IV, V (5) volumes which begins with a quote, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the who is the fairest of us all?” These lines remind us of the famous fairy tale, ‘Snow White.’ Sindhu Rajasekaran’s ‘Mermaid’ is a poem based on poet’s imagination.

Sonjoy Dutta Roy’s ‘Come My friend in this Hour of Change ’is a symbolic poem in which poet is asking help from his friend. It seems that poet is feeling very emotional and he wants a final embrace from his friend. In poem ‘Words...’ he seems to be nostalgic for his past which he cannot get and in the poem, ‘To You Who Holds Me in Your Depths’ is a love poem.
Sonnet Mondal, the young poet from Bengal has written some beautiful poems which seem to be symbolic in tone like ‘Tyranny of a Hellish Sea’, ‘Broken Eggs’ and ‘Ruined Generation.’ In his poem he has thrown light on the present condition of increasing materialism in the world.
Syed Faizan’s ‘The Book of Life’ is a highly philosophical poem in which poet is asking very peculiar wish:
What if each breath that every being e’er took,
Has been recorded in a library;
What if each human were a secret book,
Bound in the covers of eternity.

The next poem of Faizan, ‘English Ghazal’ is an experiment; as the name indicated poet has used the term ‘ghazal’ of urdu literature in English and has tried to invent a new genre. In ‘On the Taj Mahal: A Sonnet’, poet has described the beauty of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal in a unique way.

“Plato believed that poetry and literature are inextricably tied up with the values and ideologies of the culture as a whole: art is not separate from the socio-political sphere. This is reflected in some of the poems by T. Vausdeva Reddy, who has written some inspirational poem based on Indian politics like, ‘Ashram’, ‘Liberal Leader’ and ‘Let Us Rise.’

Usha Kishore’s ‘At the Supermarket’ is a poem in which she has described the feminine beauty and grace of a lady wearing a beautiful saree. The poet has given a French title to her next poem, ‘L’ écriture feminine et indienne.’ ‘Vishwamitra and Maneka’ is a poem based on Indian mythology which is the famous tale of the beautiful apsara and the rishi. ‘Postcolonial Poem’
Vihang A. Naik, being a poet has deep regard and love for writing poetry and this he has reflected in all his poems in the collection such as ‘A Matter of Life’, ‘A Poem Comes Alive’, ‘Making A Poem’, ‘Aquarium.’

Vivek Narayan has written poems based on Victorian quality like ‘Ode to Cement’, ‘In Church’, ‘The Thief’, ‘The City’ and ‘The Government of Dead.’
Vivekanand Jha’s has written some remarkable piece of poetry like, ‘Sleep Indispensable’, ‘Someone Else’, ‘Elegy to Animal’, ‘Nature on Rage’, ‘Honour Killing’ , ‘Loveria’ and ‘Pay Perk’ which reflects his genius as a great poet.

Wordsworth, a poet laureate derived his inspiration from nature and still in the contemporary scenario, poets from all over the world see nature as an inspiring agent. In the present anthology, there are many poems which has nature as its theme viz, ‘The Mirage Tree’, ‘At The River Bank’, ‘Dusk’, ‘Leaves are Falling’, ‘Crows’, ‘Spring’, ‘The Unknowing Riverbank’, ‘A Sign of Winter’, ‘Fugitive Red Rose’, ‘The Rising Sun’ , ‘Courtyard Tree’ , ‘Drunk Deep the Nature’s Bounty’, ‘Dawn, ‘Autumn’ , ‘Secrets of a Storm’ , ‘Crow, the Black Beauty’, ‘Sunflower’ , ‘Twilight’, ‘The Sun’, ‘Moon’, ‘As the Birds Fly’, ‘Immigrant Dandelion’ , ‘Swan’ , ‘A Winter’, ‘Monsoon Blues’, ‘When Winter Comes’, ‘Lone Black Bird’, ‘The Butterfly’, ‘The Pine’, ‘Trees’, ‘Mother Earth’, ‘Song of Praise.’

Many poets have shown their love for writing poetry in poems like; ‘Write a Poem on Love’, ‘Postcolonial Poem’, ‘Ashamed’, ‘Poetic’, and ‘The World of Poetry ’,‘ When Poets Surprise the World’, ‘In the Words of An Innocent Young Lady’, ‘Poetry! I have Recognised You.’
Vivekanand Jha has tried to salvage the legacy, tradition and pride of English poetry of India. It is a great attempt on his part that he has thrown lights on those poets who although have produced qualitative volume of poetry and are on the verge of literary career but have been ignored in the literary world. He has included poets from all walks of life i.e., doctors, engineers, diplomats, bureaucrats, politician, filmmakers, management professionals and many more interested in writing poetry. He deserves kudus for such a great attempt in the field of Indian poetry.

Book Review of 7th Destination by Benazir Patil

Patil, Benazir. The 7th Destination. Patridge India, 2014. Pages 310,Description: ISBN 978-1-4828-1938-0.
Reviewed by: Dr. Shamenaz, Associate Professor (English), Dept. of Applied Sciences & Humanities, Allahabad Institute of Engineering & Technology, Allahabad.
The 7th Destination: a journey unfolding the path of seventy times seven is a maiden novel by Dr. Benazir Patil who is a development specialist by profession. Being born in India, she has been working with several social development organizations both in India and internationally. She has been associated with humanitarian works and has directly touched the lives of the discriminated and disadvantaged. She is a PhD in Public Health Policy and is the author of many academic books.
         Khudabakhsh, the protagonist of the novel is an orphan brought up by Zeba, who was a magnanimous story-teller with mystical stories related with Prophets and Saints. She had a bundles of stories based on moral & ethical values. Her stories always astonish him and he wanted to hear them again, and again to keep them afresh in his memory. This was the base which shaped his personality and formed him into a noble human being.
         The novel is about exploring the world through mysticism guided by divine spirit of the holy text; Ketab-e-Hayaat. The entire life of Khudabaksh was guided by the seven principles of Ketab-e-Hayaat as he himself says:
                         Guided by the seven principles that the Ketaab-e-Hayaat
                         had revealed, the most fervent to me was about connectivity.
                         So it was with the places. I had no clue if I was here to fill
                         my mind with some comfort or there existed a connection
                         that took me there. I had asked this to myself often, but I
                         could not dwell on it long, precisely because I lived by my
                         heart. (4)
He is a wanderer by heart who just knew the journey he had to reach. He took a journey from Alvands to the seventh destination in an unstoppable way. For him it was a voyage, clearly undefined but somewhat determined and it had only emerged out of the longing to explore the obvious. The author speaks through the voice of protagonist:
                         I had no choice; the almighty had made His decisions. Long
                         years, He had created me in His own image and on the
                         seventh day. He had gifted me the whole universe. His most
                         unwavering determination was to pour all His attributes
                         into me, for me to understand the power of seventy times
                         seven. (ix)
After leaving from his native place, Hamadan he just walked and walked throughout his journey and never halted and if so than only for sometimes and he soon resumed the act of exploring the world. He had to face the various facets of life which was nothing but threads of intricately woven destiny which kept on appearing over and over again. The definiteness of this feeling always baffled him. His confrontation with Ayesha was yet another bewilderment of the eternity. He took a journey of fourteen years from Hamadan to reach his seventh destination; Fatehpur Sikri. After reaching there, his search for God was over. Zeba, a cosmic boon had played a distinct role in the life of Khudabakhsh.
           The novel reflects author’s deep knowledge of all the religions and the commonness which different religions possess. She has taken extract from many religious texts in the novel as the following lines of the Holy Quran, the sacred text of Muslims reflects:
               “The characteristics of a human are actually the qualities and traits
                 that God possesses and these are merely reflected in human nature
                 when you observe human being closely. God has immeasurable
                 qualities and you read about it in scriptures coming down to us
                 from antiquity; you find a vivid description of it in almost every
                 holy book; ninety-nine of these are mention in the holy Quran also,” (137)
She has discussed on various nature which human being possesses in the novel, The 7th Destination as in the end she speaks about sin:
                “People sin, and the nature of their deeds is acknowledged by their
                  conscience alone, many of them sin only to realize their own
                  inabilities and incapacities to measure strength but they forget
                  that human life is transitory and so are their emotions, one moment
                  they rejoice and other they regret. That is what is said, when life
                  hammers you, rejoice not in the pain of the strike but in the depth
                  of its effect. (303)
We live in an age of extreme professionalism and materialism, where there is vulgarity, obscenity, nakedness and physical urge in the name of love, but in the novel, Benazir has depicted pure love; Platonic love. She has laid stress on holistic peace and purity, which is indeed remarkable and makes the novel, a masterpiece. The novel is very mystical in approach as from the beginning till the end it seems that we are in a journey of mystery, spirit and soul. She is a writer who seems to writes from the depth of her mind, heart and even soul.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Book Review of 'The Door is Half Open' by Susheel K Sharma

Susheel Kumar Sharma, The Door is Half Open. New Delhi: Adhyayan Publishers & Distributors. 2012. ISBN: 978-81-8435-341-9. pages 141, $ 10.00 /UK £ 15.00

Reviewed By:  Shamenaz, Assistant Professor (English), Dept. of Humanities, Allahabad Institute of Engineering & Technology, Allahabad.

Courthope defines poetry as an art of producing pleasure by just expression of imaginative thoughts and feelings in metrical language. This is reflected by Susheel Kumar Sharma’s poems in his second collection, The Door is Half Open, that has appeared after thirteen years. Much water has flown in the Ganges since 1999, the year in which the first collection of his poems, From the Core Within, appeared. The 52 poems in the volume are based on many themes like religious, social, cultural, and political and economic and personal history. The first poem in the collection is ‘Ganga Mata – A Prayer’ is the poet’s tribute to the river Ganga, a goddess in Hindu culture. The verses in Sanskrit are interspersed here and there in the poem. They act like a curtain does in a drama.
Swargarohanvaijayanti bhavatim bhagirathi prathaye
Namo Gange mahottunge Trivikrama-padodbhave
Jai Shambhu -shirahsansthe Mandakini namo’stu te     (p. 2)

The scene changes with every chanting of the verses in Sanskrit and the tenor of the poem goes along with it. Thus there are ten scenes in the poem. One can find several pilgrims reciting Sanskrit verses in praise of the Ganges before and after their bathing and while performing religious ablutions on her banks almost round the clock. At important Ganga-Ghats Ganga-Arti is also held where such verses are often recited. In almost all these cases verses from at least two sources have been mentioned by the poet. This shows that the poet is imagining that at least two devotees are present on the ghat/ banks. The Ganges is one of the mightiest rivers of the world and on its banks are situated the oldest cities of the world. The river has been a witness of the rise and fall of various empires and also of civilisations. But Susheel’s main concern is with reverential aspects of the river even though he might be lamenting the present condition of the river like an environmentalist. Taking the help of Hindu mythology, he has beautifully articulated his feelings in the form of a tribute. While praying to the river, he has addressed her with 48 names where each name has some literary, cultural, geographical, mythological, historical or some other significance. Like a devout Hindu the narrator of the poem expresses his wish to live and die by the river so that he goes to heaven after his death. He says:
I just want to live and die by you
Allow me to have a haven
By your feet, O Shailasuta!
My ears are eager to listen
Evamastu uttered by you.
Grant me my wish, O Samudra-Mahishi!      (p. 2)

In asking for such a wish he has portrayed his deep regard for the river Ganga which is not only considered to be holy in India but is also the life line of the great north Indian plain. There are two more religious poems in the collection viz. ‘Liberation at Varanasi’ and ‘Yama’ based on Hindu mythology. To help the reader unfamiliar with Sanskrit or Hindu religion and culture a detailed ‘Glossary’ running into 18 pages has also been appended by the poet. It explains not only the verses and words in Sanskrit but also words like brahmins, chapati, idli, naga, sangam, Varanasi etc arranged in an alphabetical order. The best way to enjoy Susheel’s poems is to understand his cultural context by going through the glossary first and become familiar with his environs and again refer to the Glossary while reading the poems.
          The second poem in the collection is titled ‘Spineless-II’; ‘Spineless’ was the first poem in the first collection of the poet, From the Core Within (New Delhi: Creative, 1999, ISBN: 81-85231-27-3). Seeing the structure and titles of these poems it can safely be presumed that Susheel is still struggling to define ‘conscience’. Apparently there is no connection between the first two poems of the collection under discussion. But once the reader closes the book and meditates the connection appears in a flash. Those who matter cannot take any decision about Ganga’s plight because they are not listening to the voice of their conscience. They are spineless people – sometimes they start exploiting the Ganges as a natural resource to produce electricity or to irrigate fields in search of development. At others they are swayed by their religious and cultural sentiments and shelve the highly technical, costly and adventurous projects without caring for the harm already done by the launching of such projects.
The poet describes our inner voice, conscience, which dissuades human beings from committing wrong deeds. The poet has used different symbols like a pen, cat, pudding, cautious drive, old father, vintage car, electric bulb, dew drops, new tyre, computer screen, pigeon chicken and aeroplane to describe the indescribable like the conscience. All these are the innovative similes.  Poems like ‘Swan Song’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Gifts’ and ‘Contemplation’ are also symbolic in nature. It can safely be concluded that unless different symbols used by the poet are not decoded his feelings and thinking cannot be deciphered.
The poem ‘From Left to Right’ expresses poet’s feelings towards his city, Allahabad. He has tried to describe its spiritual and historical aspects. Not only this, he has also highlighted the transition which is taking place in the town and making it into a city. In ‘Vicious Circle’ the narrator is dealing with the family of soldiers who leave their family and also their country to go to other land to fight as they have been ordered to do so. Their family is left to lament because in many cases they don’t return as they die in the battlefield and leave their family in mourning. In ‘Racist Attack’, he highlights a grave issue of international importance, racial discrimination, which is prevalent in this world.
There are some poems based on social problems i.e., ‘Poverty: Some Scenes’, ‘Nithari and Beyond’, ‘For a Bride who thinks of Suicide’, ‘Struggle’ and ‘Democracy: Old and New’ describing various problems existing in the society. By highlighting these problems the poet is in line with Plato’s opinion: ‘poetry and literature are inextricably tied up with the values and ideologies of culture as a whole; art is not separate from the socio-political sphere.’
Some other poems are based on literary world but on different subjects. The poem ‘Grief’ is a reflection on the nature, temperament and attitude of the poets as the following lines indicate:
It is useless to
Wipe the tears of a poet
He is lonely forever.      (p. 21)
In this manner Susheel is trying to tell about the loneliness of the poets who create their own world in their compositions.  The poem ‘String’ details the eagerness for creativity in the field of writing. The poem ‘Across the Lethe’ is about the memory of somebody who was very close to the poet and whose ashes he has immersed into Sangam. Although the narrator immersed the ashes twenty years back but the memory of the person still haunts him all the time and he is not able to forget him/her/them.
         In the poem ‘Inquisitiveness’ the narrator talks about the inquisitive nature of his son and daughter and in ‘Tiny Tots’, he expresses his views to become young. In ‘Vanity’, he tells us about the strange and unique kind of desire of an old man who is weak and sick but does not want to die and wishes to live for some more years:
I don’t want to die unsung.
I don’t want to die unheard.
I don’t want to die weak.       (p. 32)

There are some poems which are based on the note of hope, optimism and positivity like, ‘Dwellings’, ‘Vanity’, ‘Hope is the Last Thing to Be Lost.’ Then there are some others based on despair, solitude and dejection viz. ‘Agony’, ‘A Wish’, ‘Bludgeoning of Chance’ and ‘Handcuffed.’ Some of the poems like ‘Crisis’, ‘Camouflage’ and ‘Grief’ are satires on various aspects of life. Many poems in the collection like ‘Strings’, ‘Meditation’, ‘Masquerade’, ‘Relationships on a Holiday’, ‘Shattered Dreams’, ‘Routine’, ‘Reasons’ and ‘One Step Together’ are written in subjective manner. ‘At the Hospital’ is a poem which reflects the experience one undergoes in a hospital. In the poems like ‘Heavenly Love’ and ‘O Beloved’ Susheel has laid stress on Platonic love. Then there is also love for motherland reflected in ‘A Poem for My Country.’ There are some poems based on nature viz. ‘In the Lap of Nature’, ‘Gopalpur on Sea’, ‘River’, ‘Colours’ which show that the poet derives his inspiration and motivation from nature poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Yeats. The poem ‘Mangoes’ describes the importance of a mango tree in the customs and the rituals of Hindu religion.
Many poems in the collection are written in free verse. The poet has tried to show his innermost feelings on many issues related to our existence and survival on this universe and has dealt successfully with some religious, social, cultural, and emotional themes in the book. There are clear evidences of his being inspired by Hindu mythology, religion and culture. All these poems are also reflections of his intellect, creative mind and sensitivity.
       Six readers from all around the world viz. Ann Rogers, Barbara Wühr, Gavriel Navarro, H C Gupta, Kenneth Lumpkin, Roy Robert de Vos have expressed their opinion about the poems in the segment, ‘Afterwords’; all except H C Gupta have highly praised the poems for their various qualities. This shows that these poems can be subjected to different interpretations owing to their uniqueness and quality. The publishers deserve kudos for adding an important name to the field of Indian Poetry in English.