Monday, July 13, 2009

The Poetry of A. K. Choudhary by P. V Luxmiprasad

Dr. A. K. Chowdhary, the editor of reputed international journal Kohinoor, and a distinguished Indo-English poet, has published My Songs as one of his three collections, the other two being Eternal Voices, and Universal Voices. The collection lists endless explorations of mind on the lines of poetry. It is said that poetry is usually woven round elements of imagination, emotions, passions and feelings. Here, the poet appears purely as a realist of men and matters who has surveyed life in realistic perspectives quite contrary to imaginative form of poetry that takes the backseat in this collection and a strong sense and touch of realism within the parameters of theme, form and substance forms the bulk of 34 poems written in complete facts and figures and focuses on everyday life. Themes of poems are intensely varied i.e. nature, love, sorrow, life, man, injustice, terrorism, etc. and set against multiple facets of life with a novel vision and keen sense of observation. The learned poet voices his protest like a social reformer, explores like natural observer and exposes like typical judge the hidden facets of natural world, the mindsets of sectarian violence and threatening religious fundamentalism, and finally, a visionary mouth-piece and an outright economist between the rich and the poor, examiner of relationships between man and woman, friend and foe, poet and the teacher, thoroughly rooted in comprehensive ideas and observations and complete understanding.
Like a typical nature poet, the poet in the poem 'Cloud' shows how powerfully it appears on the world: ''You, a cloud of fire, / Roar as a king / wild with glee and carefree / A slender and a twig ---cloud" (4). 'The Ganga' is another poem in which the life-sustaining flow of the river is traced in its delightful routes: ''Ganga is a congregated might / Like many a voice of one delight / … / the myth of her Zenith / Is beyond Sabbath" (11). 'India' is a poem the poet calls it the land of Lord Gautam Buddha, Mahavir and Mahatma Gandhi besides the land of the Ganges. He writes: ''Budha, Mahavir and Gandhi / have taken Samadhi / … / India a land of the Ganga / Purifies filth like the Yoga" (15) Next, the poet goes sharply critical in one of the poems addressed to Leader:
A wolf in sheep's clothing
sheds crocodile tears for the suffering.
Faustus of the society
has rare vision for the prey.'
O! nest of the viper
your name is modern leader'' ('Leader' 18)
Poems like 'Love' and 'Life' reflect the poet's philosophy and view them from realistic point of view.
'Love is the fragrance of life.
It blooms only in perfect psyche.
Loveless life is worse than Death. ('Love' 20)
'Life is a crown of thorns,
Death is a bed of roses.
wealth is the raw spirit of life
life is like wife even at strife ----- ('Life' 19)
In 'Majuli,' the poet goes nostalgic and recollects the glory, beauty and wonder of the land of Assam. He writes: ''She is a tract of sphinx. / She is a tract of phoenix. / … / She is bliss of solitude. / She is a paragon of promenade'' ('Majuli' 21).
Like a poet who is socially-conscious, Dr. A. K. Chowdhary penetrates into people and objects and traces them with his keen sense of observation. 'Modern Man' depicts the place of man in the modern times in true-sense of his existence: "O Owl! / Do not play the foul. / To show white feathers / is modern man's features" (22). Continuing on the same lines, the poet, in poems 'The poor' and 'The Rich,' depicts class distinctions in consonance with his own lines of thought:
The poor are those
Who play false ('The poor' 26)
Riches are they
Who defray for the castaway
They are the insensate things,
Spell-bound in fatal feelings. ('The Rich' 29)
Again, the poet tries to deal with the crucial and sensitive term ''Religion,'' in eponymous poem: "Religion is an intoxication / it is an illusion, / It is a Karmarasa river" ('Religion' 28).
While depicting the horrors of contemporary world where it is living in constant threat of bomb-blasts, the poet, in 'Terrorism,' has crafted his verses like these: "O Darling of the odium! / Breed ogre and idolum / … / Affliction and adulation / Empoison humanly erudition" ('Terrorism' 32). 'Poets' is a poem which is dedicated to his fellow-poets around the world. He writes: "O Pneuma ! O Creator of Valhalla! / O Lama! O piercer of nebulosity! / … / O sage! Sabotage worldly cage" (25).
To conclude, the poetry of Dr. A.K. Chowdhary is socially relevant, morally suggestive, pointedly sharp and humanly evocative. The poet has touched upon various facets of society in multiple dimensions, taking individually and collectively the problems, situations, dilemmas, experiences and those associated closely with man. No doubt, he takes from simple to complex subjects for his poetry. Modern issues confronting man have been dwelt at length.
Some poems, such as 'India,' 'Death,' 'Earth,' 'Man,' 'Nature,' 'Terrorism,' 'Explorer,' are extensively dealt with. As a poet, Dr. A.K. Chowdhary is highly socio-conscious, poetically relevant, contextual and true to the core of men and matters around him.

Nnu Ego as an Epitome of Culture with Reference to Womanhood by Preeti Chaudhury

Preeti Choudhary
Nnu Ego as an Epitome of Culture with Reference to Womanhood
The joys of motherhood deal with the portrayal of the African woman Nnu Ego. This novel shows what it means to be a cultural woman in the society. Buchi Emecheta, creative writer, relates to Nnu historically and culturally. Refracted through centuries of usage, the word 'culture' has acquired a number of different connotations. It is associated with both the past and the future. In the past it had a sacred function and was posited against the wasteland of contemporary life. Its association with the future brings before us a utopia where labour and leisure would exist together. The one definition of culture which is familiar to most of us is that culture is a standard of aesthetic excellence. The second meaning of culture refers to a way of life:
It expresses certain meanings and values not only in art and learning, but also in institutions and ordinary behaviour. The analysis of culture, from such a definition, is the clarification of the meanings and values implicit and explicit in a particular way of life.1
True, culture involves the relationship between life and literature. Without appreciating good literature, we cannot understand the nature of a particular society and secondly literary critical analysis can be applied to certain phenomena so as to illuminate their meanings for individuals and societies. This requires a literary sensibility to read society.
It is with this reconciliation between literature and life that the present paper chooses one female character from The Joys of Motherhood —Nnu Ego. She is a treasured daughter of Nwokocha Agbadi, a wealthy chief and his beloved mistress Ona. Agbadi performed penance for a long time in the hope of begetting sons. But instead of sons, she begets a daughter. She is named Nnu Ego after the goddess with whose blessings she is born. She is extremely beautiful with lotus like eyes, slender waist, ample hips, elephantine gait, etc. " This child is priceless, more than twenty bags of cowries. I think that should really be her name, because she is a beauty and she is mine. Yes, Nnu Ego: twenty bags of cowries."2
A year after the birth of Nnu Ego, Ona died. Nnu Ego's birth heralded a future that would be marked by misery, when her father tells her that her husband will die within a year. He asks her to choose another man as her husband. But Nnu, with utmost meekness and unwavering mind, tells her father: "Parents, death and husband gain a woman once in her life. From all these three things I will not choose for the two times."3
This is one of the gretest utterances found in any culture past or present. In these lines, Nnu seems like Savitri - the character from the Mahabharata. When Narada tells her that Satyavan will die within a year, Ashvapati asks her to choose another man as her husband. But Savitri with fixed mind, tells her father:
The death can fall but once; a daughter can be given away but once and once only can a person say I give myself away. These three things can take place only once. Indeed, with a life short or long, possessed of virtues or bereft of them, I have, for once, selected my husband. Twice I shall select not.4
From Nnu Ego's stubbornness, Agbadi agrees to allow Nnu to marry Amatokwu of the neighboring village of Umo-Iso. The marriage takes place in the third chapter. Nnu discards her rich clothes and quietly accepts the life of a very simple lady. She wins the affection of her in-laws by her obedience. She wins her husband's trust and love by her honeyed words and love.
After a year of marriage she is believed to be barren because she is unable to become pregnant—"let her go, she is as barren as a desert." This thought haunts her mind all the times, yet she keeps smiling and never fails in her duties to her in-laws and her husband. Amatokwu declares after a few days that he would marry another woman; she gives him freedom to remarry someone who might produce a healthy generation for him.
Amatokwu clearly recalls Dhritrashtra, especially in the matter of "Blindness". The only difference is that Dhritrashtra is physically blind, while Amatokwu, as many of his friends said, was too much of a visionary, and was often blind to the realities of life. He is unable to read the face and peep into the heart of Nnu Ego. As Throor puts it, "He had the blind man's gift of seeing the world not as it was, but as he wanted it to be."5 She tells him that she will not leave her husband and live with him. Neither he nor her in-laws are able to stop her from doing this.
One can easily see the opening scene of the III chapter, 'The Mother's Mother', as a point against the traditional African culture and how unfair these standards are towards the women. There are several outstanding unfair standards: firstly the sole value of women being placed on the production of children, and secondly, their lives are worth nothing if they are not extending the name and magnanimity of men. Nnu worships her Chi god for the long life of her husband. This novel can be compared, though not appropriately, to two Greek myths. The first is that of the Orpheus and Eurydice in which the latter dies but the former does not follow her immediately after her death. It is during his wanderings that by chance he enters the under world. His music enchants Pluto and he gets a boon—he can take his wife without looking back. But he does look back and thus looses his wife. The second legend is that of Laodamia and Protesilaus. The element of predestination is there and it is the wife who prays to the gods, but Laodamia gets her husband back only for three hours and after the expiry of those three hours she too dies with him. Thus the similarity between these two myths and that of the Nnu and Amatokwu are only superficial. This story is also compared to the Egyptian myths of Isis and Osiris, as king of Egypt, is married to his sister Isis. One day their brother Seth, an evil person, locks Osiris in a coffin and throws it into the sea. Isis goes in search of her husband's body and brings it back. Seth again finds the body, cuts into pieces and throws them into Nile. She again searches for these scattered pieces, but this story is once again very different from that of Nnu Ego's and Amatokwu. When Amatokwu gets ill and is about to die, Nnu had heard that there is a great Saint, wholives in the forest of Ibuza and only he ca save her husband. Nevertheless, she would never allow herself to be a family disgrace. Nnu was determined to accept—with patience—what she knew that it was going to be a great test for her. She decides to go to him (the Saint) by hook or by crook. She goes in search of the Saint and finally finds him. After he cures her husband she thanks him:
Thank you, God's messenger. You are the greatest doctor I have ever seen. You diagnosed our illness in your head and without bothering us, you prepared the medicine and applied it to him. … Once more, thank you.6
Nnu Ego was in many ways sensitive to her husband, but unfortunately he neglected her. Her struggle upholds the family status in society and also contributes to the positive male image of her husband. It was her duty to protect her husband and her in-laws. Nnu represents the ideal of womanhood. She has great strength of character which is the result of a pure righteous mind. Her resolution never wavers. Her greatest quality is that she never weeps. Even when her husband is about to die, she does not weep she acts a cool calculating person who never gives up. Every other character in this story weeps except Nnu. Her in-laws weep out of their helplessness. Nnu's calm, tearless eyes do not show a hard hearted woman without feelings for others but reflects her firm purpose. She cannot be called an Amazon. Chi God pleased at her; blesses her with two sons. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to two sons: Oshia and Ngozi. But her struggle does not end here. She quietly prays: "Please God, let my sons stay with me and fulfill all these my future hopes and joys.".7
She tried very hard to make extra-money in order to educate her eldest son, Oshia, who was by tradition to take care of her in her old age. But Oshia was subjected to the white man's ideals which she readily accepted. Tragically, the endless sacrifices she made brought Nnu little reward. In the last years of her life, she was alone and not cared for by her sons, as it was traditionally intended. There is another angle from which we can look at Nnu. Emecheeta narrates her story as an example of chaste woman. We can compare her with Sita, Draupadi, and Mandodari. Chastity with reference to married woman seems to be a kind of paradox, especially, in the case of Draupadi, who has five husbands. In the Indian tradition Ahilya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara, and Mandodari are called Panch Kanya. But to compare with Nnu, these appear to be passive figures. Draupadi is comparatively more vocal; she is avenged by her five husbands. Sita too is rescued by Rama. Sita follows her husband in exile as part of ancient Indian tradition—that a wife should follow her husband. It is Nnu Ego who follows her dying husband and rescues him like a hero. Ahilya, Tara, and Mandodari dwindle into insignificance when compared with Nnu. Ahilya remains a woman and suffers the wrath of her husband Gautama unjustly without ever getting a chance to prove her innocence. Sita and Draupadi suffer and cry and are rescued by their husbands. It is Nnu, alone, who rescues her husband. Besides, it is she who chooses her husband and remains firm about her choice even after knowing that Amatokwu will die very soon; while Sita and Draupadi are won in Swayamvara.
Perhaps, it is because of three things in her that: she does not weep; like a male hero, she rescues her husband; and like a man, she chooses her husband. Because of these traits she does not find favour with many critics, storytellers, and novelists. In contrast, much has been written about Sita, Draupadi, and Ahilya that can only be called reinterpretation.
Nnu Ego performs all her duties as a wife, daughter-in-law and as a mother, but she is unable to gain her accurate position in her family. She is not just a woman; she is the epitome of an ideals woman.
1Raymond Williams, The Long Rvolution (New York: Penguin, 1965), p. 70.
2Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood (New York: George Braciller, Inc., 1979), p. 27.
3ibid., p. 31.
4The Mahabharata, Vol. III. Trans. Pratap Chandra Roy (Calcutta: Oriental Publishing Co., 1984), p. 3.
5Shashi Throor, The Great Novel, (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1989), p. 85.
6Buchi Emechet, p.106.
7ibid., p. 79.

Indian Ethos in the Poetry of Toru Dutt by rajeev Dubey

Rajiv Dubey
Indian Ethos in the Poetry of Toru Dutt
Among the early English writers of Indian Renaissance who gave independent outlook, right direction, original subjects, the name of Toru Dutt stands first. Her best work has depth of human motives and emotions and an abiding faith in Indian values. Besides writing in French and English, she turned to Sanskrit literature to get the sacred touch of India's Muse and introduced to the world about her splendour beauty and rich treasure-house of ancient wisdom. It was a matter of deep sorrow that she died so early when her talent was blossoming under the vast auspicious knowledge of Indian myths, legends and folklores.
She fascinates us for her personal life as well as due to her creative genius. Like Bronte sisters and Keats, her family, too, became a victim of consumption and she died in the prime of her youth, only at 21. Before her sad and slow death, she lost her elder brother Abju aged only 14 and sister Aru only at 20. Edmund Gosse writes, "It is wonderful to grasp of a girl who at the age of twenty one had produced so much of lasting worth."1 The great Indian critic Amar Nath Jha also writes ," There is every reason to believe that in intellectual power Toru Dutt was one of the most remarkable women that ever lived."2
She belonged to a very rich, respectable and intellectual family of Calcutta. Her father Govin Chunder Dutt was a cultured man steeped into the deep knowledge of the West and the East. Her mother was also a woman of very modest and loving disposition and from her mouth the young Toru had listened the immortal stories of ancient Indian heroes and heroines. The other family members too were highly learned and pursuing the great tradition of music and literature. Toru, being a very sensitive and learned child, knew the value of artistic atmosphere of her home and in one of her letters, she recalled gratefully the literary influence of her father : "Without Papa I should never have known good poetry from bad, but he used to take such pains with us ... when we were quite little ones ... I wonder what I should have been without my father, nothing very enviable or desirable, I know."3
It was the time when most of early intellectuals of Bengal were attracted to the great glamour of the West and the deep impact of Christianity. Toru's father embraced Christianity and afterwards left Calcutta and settled at Nice, in the south-east of France. Here Toru and her sister learnt their first lessons in French and soon they excelled in this language and used it effectively and proficiently for their literary leanings. Their first literary fruit came out with the title Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields with admiring maturity and depth. Of the 165 pieces, 8 were by Aru and remaining by Toru. Though it was a translation from French to English, but it was marked by a great original genius as Toru's selection and rejection has made it almost a new creative work. No wonder, Edmund Goss read it with 'surprise and almost rapture'. He declared, "If modern French literature were entirely lost, it might not be found impossible to reconstruct a great number of poems from this Indian version."5
Keeping and maintaining the original rhythm, sense and meaning, Toru's translation has almost touched the beauty and glory of newly creative work, pouring her bleeding heart out of the family tragedy in willingly chosen works of French Romantics. Here, in them, she gave free play to her soaring imagination, unchecked and unbounded, loneliness, dejection, ardours and agonies of life. Likewise, her French novel 'Le Journal de Mademoiselle d'Arvers' which was published posthumously, has captured the eyes of the public both at home and abroad. She has captivated the music of French language and life. A critic writes : "This one surpasses all the prodigies. She is a Frenchwoman in this book, and a Frenchwoman like ourselves; she thinks, she writes, like one of us."
In the midst of so many agonies and sufferings when she was herself fighting with death, she turned to Sanskrit literature for in great miraculous stories of ancients, besides the treasure house of wisdom and light, she found abundant pathos, depth of life and knowledge as well as peace and solace. The noted critic K. R. Srinivasa lyengar writes, " What a struggle and what a victory for Toru, she was an Indian poet writing in English. … she was one with India's woman singers... now she responds to the heart beats of the antique racial tradition."6 Her mother helped her much and very soon she excelled in the knowledge of Hindu epics, puranas, stories of mystery, miracle and Indian folklores. Moreover, it is her approach and attitude to these scriptures that give a very keen insight and interest to all such great stories. Though herself a Christian, she recognised very well where lies the roots of this ancient nation. A. N. Jha writes," For all her western training and the faith under the influence of which she had been brought up, she never ceased to be an Indian."7 She has very faithfully, imaginatively and sympathetically portrayed her race, her land and her traditions. She is rightly called as a "prestigious child of our culture" who very forcefully interpreted the soul of India to the world. Most of her poems in the volume Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan are deeply soaked with Indian themes.
Her first poem is 'Savitri'. It narrates the fortune of the princess Savitri and her courageous encounter with the God of Death. It depicts the constancy of the heroine, her chastity, womanly modesty, humility and her great love for her husband Satyavan. Her actions are considered as "the highest standard of conjugal love even today." Through the story, she also discloses the pitiable plight of the widows of her time. She writes :
And think upon the dreadful curse
Of widowhood; the vigils, fasts
And penances; no life is worse
Than hopeless life—the while it lasts.8
Her next poem is ‘Lakshman’. The scene opens in a very hot conversation between Sita and Lakshman in the forest. Listening the last crying words of Maricha "Oh, Sita, Oh, Lakshman," Sita became terrific of her husband's safety. She urges and after scolds Lakshman for his unwillingness in going to the forest. Sita is depicted in the form of a very simple and ordinary woman. She does not care Lakshman's lifelong loyalty and truth. Moreover, she crosses even the modesty of an ordinary woman. She humiliates him by her sharp arrow like words. She even charges him having baser motives, accusing him of desiring Ram's death so that he might take possession of his wife and kingdom :
Learn this—whatever comes may come,
But I shall not survive my love,—
Of all my thoughts here is the sum,
Witness it gods in heaven above.9
Thus, the poem presents a very traditional theme. It depicts the strength of the bonds that binds the members of an Indian family. Harihar Das remarks, "Nowhere we think, outside Indian thought, could be get so perfect a picture of brotherly loyalty."10 Lakshman remains loyal to the instructions of Ram even after bearing Sita's womanly weapon of bitter sarcasm.
Her next poem ‘The Royal Ascetic and the Hind’ is also based on a story from Mahabharat. It describes the great saintliness of King Bharat. Once, while in the forest, a graceful pregnant hind came there to quench her thirst. Meanwhile, she listens the roaring of a lion, runs fast and dies and her offspring tumbled from her womb into the flowing stream and it struggled for its life. The hermit king was deeply touched and a kind of struggle started into his soul; whether to love God or to love this fawn. Bharat leaves his asceticism for the sake of this child. Through this poem Toru seems to condemn the life of renunciation and penances for the real value of life lies in something else:
Not in seclusion, not apart from all,
Not in a place elected for its peace,
But in the heat and bustle of the world,
'Mid sorrow, sickness, suffering and sin....
Who strives to enter through the narrow gate.11
The other stories of this volume are related to the heroic deeds of Buttoo (Eklavya), Sindu (Shravan Kumar), Dhruva and Prahlad. The last legend is of "Sita". It depicts the painful suffering of women in the form of Sita. Though she presents beautiful natural description of the forest where lies Valmiki's cottage but the poem is unforgettable for its sense of sorrow, fatality: here everyone is in tears because Sita is weeping.
The first thing which strikes us that these ancient stories are very near to the pathetic life of the poet herself. Like Shelley's famous line, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought (l. 90)", the sorrowful incidents of her life moved the poetess most. Secondly, these traditional stories expose very vividly our ancient ideals and customs. Toru's poetry is deeply soaked in Indian wisdom, its ancient culture, philosophy, myths and legends. She has great love to India and through her poetry she has presented its great spiritual light, rich tradition of sacrifice and suffering, vibrant values, beautiful imagery to the world of the West. She was an original genius for she captured the roots of her race very soon and she trod her self-made path. She was very conscious to the social and political scene of India and how the Indians were humiliated and undervalued before Europeans. It would be fitting to end this discussion by her sharp comment showing her deep sensitivity and social consciousness when a European who had killed his 'syce' and was fined only £ 2 : "You see how cheap the life of an Indian is in the eyes of an English judge."12
1Edmund Gosse, "Introductory Memoirs", Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1882), p. xiii.
2Amarnath Jha, "Introductory Memoirs", Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan (Allahabad : Kitabistan, 1969), p. 30.
3Quoted from Talookdar, K. The Poetry of Toru Dutt (Journal of the University of Bombay, May 1936).
4K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Indian Writing in English (Bombay : Sterling Publishers Private Ltd., 1984), p. 62.
6Ibid, p. 63.
7A.N. Jha, Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, p. 33.
8"Savitri", Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, p. 46.
9"Lakshman", Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, p. 84.
10Harihar Das, The Life and Letters of Toru Dutt (London : Oxford University Press, 1921), P.65.
11"The Royal Ascetic and the Hind", Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, p. 115.
12Quoted from Naik, M.K., A History of Indian English Literature, (Delhi : Sahitya Academy, 1982), p. 38.

Tracing the Odyssey from Detachment to Involvement in Arun Joshi's The Foreigner, The Strange Case of Billy Biswas, and The Apprentice by Shishupal

Shishu Paul
Tracing the Odyssey from Detachment to Involvement in Arun Joshi's The Foreigner, The Strange Case of Billy Biswas, and The Apprentice
The psychoanalysis has been developed in the modern Indian Fiction in English and the idea of a sub-conscious mind finds expression through the novels. It delineates repressions, obsessions and complexes. In the sub-conscious, "a forest full of strange beasts" moves within the mind of every individual. It is here that the myth is created by the taboos, the individual possesses. It may exist in the consciousness because the individual cannot separate the past, present and future.
Action, in a stream-of-consciousness novel, takes place and the plot develops through the mind of the central character. It is reflected through the forces working in his mind. The conflicts and controversies get manifestation of the new awareness of the reality. Sometimes the fantastic, symbolical and obscure modes of expression are there for a more comprehensive explanation of the individual mind.
Sindi Oberoi, the protagonist of The Foreigner (1968), is a product of crossroads of the east and the west. His dilemma is socio-psychological. He is born of an English mother and an Indian father. He is brought up by his uncle in Kenya. He is educated in East Africa, London and America. He is deprived of his parental love and has indifference towards them. He tells Mr. Khemka: "For the hundredth time I related the story of those strangers whose one reality was a couple of wrinkled and cracked photographs" (11).
Sindi recalls those days of his parents when they were killed in an air crash while he needed them the most. He feels some kind of security with his uncle but his death makes him miserable and forces him to live as a foreigner. He has been denied parental love, family affection and cultural roots. He grows into a wayward man and finally becomes a wandering alien to his own culture. He finds no longer any security. His sense of being an outsider remains static. He has some mission, some purpose, and some desire in life but he is completely withdrawn. He wants to escape pains and, as such, he tries his best but fails. He tries his utmost to get out of attachment but is unable to do so. He is internally hurt.
Sindi remains an alien throughout his life. He undergoes various changes and a number of bitter experiences right from his life in Kenya, London and Boston. While in Kenya, he plans once for suicide and in London his dull life gets a little life in his love with Anna and Katty. Anna seeks her lost youth and love for Oberoi but in response Sindi gives her a sense of illusion and goes closer to Katty. Such experiences disturb him intensely. He also knows intimately the relationship with June and Babu in Boston. It takes a new turn when he opts for June. June wants to love, marry and create a home for her. Sindi’s knowledge of her intention makes his defenses of detachment fade away.
He overcomes this crisis and finishes his studies and decides to come back to India. In India also he finds a kind of love for life, vanities and morality. Here he comes to know that Mr. Khemka and his daughter Sheila dislike Babu's marriage with June not because of intercultural marriage but because of their wish to make Babu's marriage a social function in India. Sindi is still a foreigner as he does not know the language, the customs, the traditions and the religion of India. He laughs at his position as he is misfit in any culture and does not want to do like that: "Foreigners don't fit in our homes because we do not want them to fit in" (57). Sindi finds himself as good as a foreigner in India even as he was in America. He realizes his position of "an uprooted young-man living in the later half of the 20th century" (195). He analyses the situation with which he is face to face. His deep-rooted sense of a foreigner does not leave him even a minute.
It is not simply the question of culture but his twice removal from his country of birth. He is alien everywhere. He wishes to achieve equipoise through non-attachment in vain. It is his delusion that he can live uninvolved and unaffected. His advice to June, "Marriage would not help June. We are alone, both you and I, that is the problem. And our aloneness must be resolved from within. You cannot send two persons through a ceremony and expect that their aloneness will disappear" (126), breaks his emotional involvement and proves to be a self-delusion. He further tries to defend his delusion. He calls it inevitable, sad, and painful and a deliberate act of madness: "It is different with me. I have no delusions to bank upon. I can't marry you because I am incapable of doing so. It would be like going deliberately mad. It is inevitable that our delusions will break us sooner or later" (120).
Sindi seems to be a self-deceiver from the idea that he has developed about delusion and detachment. He does not forget his foreign background and at times he passes through psychoanalysis. He blames American cultures for disturbances in his life, the disorder he undergoes, the obsession he faces. He realizes his position as an outsider. He suffers a lot but never takes it otherwise. He maintains: "There is no end of suffering, no end to the struggle between good and evil" (41). Sindi is responsible for the death of June and Babu. Once again existence denudes him. He feels like an insecure man and harbours a deep-rooted feeling of unreality. He tries to establish a relation between self and the external world. He wants to justify his identity through his contacts with others but loses both individuality and identity. He suffers from the psychosis of engulfment. His relationship with Anna, Katty and June fails to make a complete union in any case. He is basically pre-occupied with the sense of possession of a girl like June. While he tries to preserve his identity he is terrified with the fear of being possessed. He also fears to be united in marriage because he sees his existence doomed. In between attachment and detachment, he finally understands that detachment does not mean an escape, but involvement, devotion and sacrifice. He surrenders to himself as an existential hero.
Billy Biswas in The Strange Case of Billy Biswas has stronger vision about the sense of harmony in his surroundings, family life and the life with his wife, Meena. He gets introduced, retires within himself and ultimately opts for the life of a pilgrim. He feels a gap of communication between his wife and himself. Simply sex cannot satisfy him to release his tension. So, he leaves Meena's company for many months. He needs someone who can share his thought and apply herself to inject a new lease of life. Now Rima Kaul attracts him. She loves him passionately. She is somewhat better than Meena as she shares his feelings.
Billy, further, is fascinated by the primitive atmosphere. He is fed up with the strangers, unresponsive people, statues like Meena and the corrupt society in which Rima Kaul is living. When he gets a glimpse of Bilasia, it gives him a powerful pull. Her sensual charm gives him thrill and also overpowers him. He finds the right woman who can quench his thirst, enlighten his senses and save him from corruption. He can now renounce Meena and Rima both. This transformation of Billy is not the transformation of sex or sympathy or sublimation but it is mixing of self. Bilasia fulfils his choice, the choice for the primeval force: "Her enormous eyes, only a little foggier with drink, poured out a sexuality that was nearly as primeval as the forest that surrounds them" (141).
Billy meets Bilasia and becomes one with her and with her culture. He finds his real-self with her and he is freed from his own corrupt culture. He proves himself the saviour God of the tribes: "He is like rain on parched lands, like balm on a wound, these hills have not seen the like of him since the last of our kings passed away" (159-60).
In The Apprentice, Arun Joshi investigates the social sickness and sufferings of Ratan, a village boy, who considers life to be a beautiful sacrifice but hardships in his life take him to the sense of insecurity. He is nervous for getting a job. He goes to Delhi in search of job, meets all his friends and relatives and when he fails in his attempt he suffers privation. He does not want too much but a job to earn his livelihood. He strives hard but he is rejected everywhere for lack of political favour. He wanders from pillar to post in search of job. He is completely disillusioned. He finds no glory in family life, no sense of sacrifice for father, no trust for friendship, no merit in help and education. For him, the climate has changed for adjustment. Ratan has a long series of compromises. His conscience pricks him at every compromise. He is restless, sleepless and unable to ignore the making of his career. He is terrified by the uncertainties of life. He is now a thick-skin. Ratan has developed a deviating tendency at every shift in his life. This deviation torments him. He has to suppress the voice of his soul. He suffers within and avers: "… all these years this terrible loneliness something that you may not suspect by looking at me, something that none has even suspected. How all these years, carrying them in secret, like a thief close to my heart until their blazes have turned upon me and turned me to ashes" (74-75).
Like others, Ratan also finds himself a misfit. All his education and intelligence did not help him. He had to abdicate his true self to fit in the corrupt society to eke out a living. He is alienated from his true self and ideals. In his feverish pursuit of careerism, he submits himself to all sorts of corruption that the modern world offers. In spite of all material comforts available to him, discontentment becomes a way of life. He leads a frustrated and exhausted family life. His corrupt deal at the end costs the life of his closest friend, Brigadier, and realizes the gravity of the sin. He describes his own sense of self-awareness:
Twenty years and nothing gained. An empty lifetime, what had I learned? Pushing files, maneuvering? At forty-five all that I knew was to maneuver. A trickster, that was what I had felt like make of me. Did I know the meaning of honour, friendship? Did I ever know it? Would I ever know it again? (139)
He seeks fulfilment and pleads that there is nothing wrong to make a second start: "One must try and not lose heart, not yield, at any cost to despair" (149).
In short, Arun Joshi's characters, in one way or the other, face Jamesean dilemma of double cultures impinging upon the self. They are more modern, much less complete and much less authentic. Though they are Indian in essence, they come closer to Kafka's heroes or Camus' outsiders. Sindi's rootlessness is a result of the cumulative forces—his interracial parentage, his intercultural orientation and, above all, his personal experiences. His is a problem of existence. His Billy Biswas is a transformed Sindi Oberoi, who casts off his urban civilization and goes to the forest. The life of Ratan Rathore is a journey from innocence to experience and also from self-love to self-remorse.
In Joshi's novels the heroes have progressed from alienation to existential affirmation. Sindi slowly knows that real detachment lies in involvement. Billy Biswas retires within himself and he opts for the life of a pilgrim. Ratan's sense of alienation teaches him humanism. Hence, out of an acute sense of alienation and a quest to understand the meaning of life, he takes up apprenticeship. Joshi's heroes are misfit in society and they find themselves lonely. Most of them are haunted by a sense of futility and are ready to encounter whatever comes in their way, though, for most of the period, they live on ad hoc basis adopting a dual code of behaviour. Finally, they realize their true selves.
Works Cited
Joshi, Arun.The Foreigner. New Delhi: Hind Pocket Books, 1968.
---. The Strange Case of Billy Biswas. New Delhi: Hind Pocket Books, 1971.
---. The Apprentice. New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, 1981.

Philip Larkin: A Great Post-Modernist Poet by Mohd. Parvez and S. M Rizwan Ahmad

Mohd. Perwez & S. M. Rizwan Ahmad
Philip Larkin: A Great Post-Modernist Poet

The term 'Post-Modernism' was very much in use in the late 1960s. The originators of the post-modern argument were French intellectuals like Jean Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard. Post-modernism is at times an adaptation of features tried out within modernism and at other times showing practices which had in their turn become conventional.
Though there are a number of Post-modernist poets like Kingsley Amis, Donald Davie, Elizabeth Jennings, Thom Gunn, John Holloway, and John Wain. Philip Larkin (1922-85) has emerged as one of the most eminent poets among them. Dana Gioia's discerning review in the Washington Post1 acknowledged Larkin as one of the century's indisputably great poets, whose writings withstood comparison with those of Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats, and W. H. Auden. In fact, Philip Larkin is one of Britain's pre-eminent Twentieth Century poets. His posthumous Collected Poems sold over 35000 hardback copies in a single year, an unheard of achievement for poetry in this telemedia age. Larkin's reputation rests on five anthologies: The North Ship (1945), The Less Deceived (1955), Whitsun Weddings (1964), High Windows (1974), and Aubade (1980).
The importance of these anthologies lay in the fact that between them they amounted to a manifesto for Postmodernist Poetry and Larkin's work was seen as central to this poetic tendency. Basically, the post modernist poets formed their ideas in reaction to previous movements in British poetry. Where T. S. Eliot and the modernists of the 1920s had preached the value of difficulty and had opened themselves to new influences from the past tradition in English literature and from European and American writing, the postmodernist poets stood for simplicity and even colloquialism of expression and adopted firmly British values and forms, where W. H. Auden and the political poets of the 1930s exalted the social role of the poet and the necessity of political change, the post-modernist poetry firmly divorced from political programmes. Where Dylan Thomas and the New Apocalyptics of the 1940s spoke of the intensity of their emotions and the consequent dislocation of ordinary syntax, the post-modernists prided themselves in keeping the emotions under firm control and tended to regard poetry as one part of everyday communication of one person to the other.
For the Post-modernist poets, including Philip Larkin, the identity of the poet is stripped off its glamour and the poet becomes an ordinary man talking about things in a language - though versified - sounds quite prosaic. As a human being the poet is in no way special, nor is there any reason to glorify his self. These poets present series of disillusionment that they underwent which led them to negative feelings. This is Philip Larkin's attitude in poem after poem. Even childhood, which is traditionally depicted as an ideal, golden period, is portrayed as dull and uninteresting. The account he gives of his childhood in his poem, 'I Remember, I Remember,' stands out for its anaemia. Childhood is remembered as one bleak period when nothing, just nothing, seems to have happened:
'You look as if you wished the place in Hell'
My friend said, 'judging from your face! Oh well,
I suppose its not the place's fault', I said
'Nothing like something, happens anywhere'.
In the poem, 'Church Going', Larkin shows that an everyday concern of the common man is religion. The opening lines of the poem are important for what they mean:
Once I am sure there's nothing going on,
I step inside.
The poet probably would not have entered if some religious activity had been going on inside. He enters the sacred building just like a casual visitor devoid of any religious conviction. The dilemma of the twentieth century man, as Larkin sees it, is what to believe in if not religion.
Whereas 'Church Going,' is concerned with rituals conducted in church-rituals accompanying birth, death and marriage - the theme of 'The Whitsun Weddings' is specifically the marriage ritual and the importance it has in human life. It describes Larkin journeying from Hull to London and slowly realizing that his train is filling with newly married couples who are just embarking on their honeymoons. Besides the main theme of the poem, it is clearly evident that the poet is an avowed lover of natural beauty too.
At the start of the journey, before the weddings catch his attention, he looks out of the window at a landscape which is being spoilt by a creeping shabbiness of modern Britain:
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floating of industrial froth
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped
Until the next town, new and non-descript,
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.
Donald Davie discusses 'The Whitsun Weddings' in his book, Thomas Hardy and British Poetry2, where he argues that Larkin is only able to sympathize with the after train passengers by virtue of the fact that he represses his aesthetic responses to the natural world and the way it is being ruined as well as his historical awareness, that the British landscape was once more beautiful than it is now.
As far as the poet's view of marriage is concerned, it is apparently a cynical one. The participants of the ritual are comic figures, beginning with the brides, the "grinning and pomaded girls" and the equally ludicrous older generation. However, the main thrust of the poem is not on the absurdity of the entire situation. The concluding note is what matters the most to Larkin that one particular day an assorted number of different characters involved in different situations come together briefly sharing a few moments of their lives together they may never meet again and even on that particular day, they may not have met but for the "frail / travelling coincidence." It is this strangeness of everyday life that Larkin muses on.
Of all the Post-modernist poets, Larkin has shown the greatest concern for spiritual values. The loss of innocence, almost Edenic in character, so poignantly regretted by Larkin has implicit religious concern. In 'The Building,' 'Faith Healing,' 'Water,' 'Next Please,' 'Aubade' and naturally 'Church Going,' he has explored a different dimension of religious convictions.
The theory that the main spring of Larkin's poetry is its complexity of attitudes explains to so small a part of his creative genius to serve more than a starting point in analyzing the originality of his contribution to poetry. There is, no doubt, complexity of attitudes at the heart of Larkin's verse. Unlike any other important modern British poet, Larkin has constructed no system into which his poems can fit in the proper sense of the term. His is an individual achievement and a memorable one.
1Dana Gioia, "The Still Sad Music of Philip Laarkin,' Washington Post Book Word, 15 Aug. 1993, pp. 1 & 9.
2Donald Davie, Thomas Hardy and British Poetry (Routledge & Kegal Paul, 1973).

Rainbow Hues: The Poetry of Nar Deo Sharma by Shaleen K Singh

Shaleen Kumar Singh
Rainbow Hues: The Poetry of Nar Deo Sharma
Nar Deo Sharma belongs to that age of Indian English Poetry when it was in its teens, when poets like O.P. Bhatnagar, Prakash Joshi, Niranjan Mohanty, I.H.Rizvi, Baldev Mirza, Hazara Singh, Mukund R. Dave, Syed Ameruddin, Jayant Mahapatra, Krishna Srinivas, R.K. Singh, Mahanand Sharma, A.N. Dwivedi, P. Lal, D.C. Chambial, H. S. Bhatiya, T. Vasudeva Reddy, Krishna Khullar, L. N. Mahapatra, D. H. Kabadi, I.K. Sharma, Pronab Bandhopadyay, K. B. Rai, Subhash C. Saha were hectically absorbed in poetry to bring it onto the global platform. According to I.H. Rizvi & N.F. Rizvi the poetry in between 1971 to 1985 (in 1984 Sharma's Melody of Wounds was published first from Writers Workshop) was very 'rich as far as the number of the volumes of verse is concerned'. Despite all criticism of M.K. Naik and B.K. Das who regard the poetry of this age as "rubbish" (Rizvi: 134), one cannot underestimate the significance of the poetry of this age. In this regard, Sharma observes:
New Indian English poets are sincerely committed to social, political and religious perspectives to the extent that they do not feel shy of poetizing stark realities which might not satisfy the parochial norms of the good and the beautiful altogether but highlight the unvarnished truth in poetry. (Rizvi:134)
It seems that he hints to some crucial clue to understand his poetry in a well manner.
Being essentially a poet-cum-stylistic-critic, his equal emphasis appears to be laid upon the craft and art of poems. His poems are so well knit that one can hardly find fault with them and he can rightly be termed as a 'gifted poetic craftsman'. His poetry collection Melody of Wounds was recognized and eulogized by the critics of the globe, as well as proved to be a crucial pillar of the mansion of Indian English Poetry of 70s and 80s. The second reprint is designed by the poet himself wherein he has scattered ample hues of poetic creativity as well as set milestone for the new poets to learn and draw tips and ideals of writing poetry. His each poem establishes a sound frame and a peculiar axiom for the new poets of Indian English poetry to follow an example and know how good poetry can be written from both aspects: points of view of vision and craft. The strength of Sharma lies in his competency to ooze out the emotions honestly without resistance and to work out the enigma called life with a definite purpose called nobility. His is the poetry of revelations and explorations (of life and being) but it must also be borne in mind that Sharma's all attempts of poetry are not his personal outpourings but for the common man and commonplace. Baldev Mirza is right when he opines:
Sharma does not appear from an ivory tower like most of his clan. He comes out of the crowds of people, reveals his experiences in a subtle, sharp and direct manner and joins the crowds again. But the shades, he leaves behind are dotted with his distinction and individuality as a poet who believes in 'Art for life's sake' (Blurb of Melody of Wounds).
In the very first poem, 'Law Court', Sharma exhibits the predicament of cankered judicial system where a raped woman- "Skipping her shame / Between sobs and tears", "pours out her tragedy / To the hoary bench that/ Drinks the poignant account / Of her rape." Here, interestingly the poet is not only emotive but also reflective when he adds, "Law does not look / To ease her gossamer grief: / But it makes allowances / For the hired arguments / Which pick holes in her lonely, / Helpless endeavours she made / to escape her distress." Here the poet raises a question and creates more grim and absurd picture:
How long will you cling to law
Which is so myopic and flimsy?
That it attaches credence to such crowd of evidences
Who by their false oath
First murder the Gods
Packed in the bundle
Of holy books
Then defeat the lonely truth (1)
Here the reflective quality together with choice of metaphoric words and phrases makes the reading more reflective, picturesque and enjoyable. The thought-provoking ideas with the help of questions, cross-questions, pictorial and metaphorical images create a fine balance in the poem. Similarly in the second poem 'Money Plant', Sharma creates both the pictures of tradition and modernity. Tradition in the belief of the one who plants the sapling of money-plant in order to attain riches and modernity in the expenses of the woman (who planted it) who "gathered that / Who slipped from set values/ Are crowded with fortune."
In the third poem 'Leader', Sharma weaves the Indian political themes in which Gandhian coffin is presented as the cover to hide "national nuisance / Of corruption, bribed dejection" and the leaders are satirized candidly:
He can materialize
The national dream
Of the Olympic gold
If he is allowed
To sum the marathon race
Of corruption, bribed defection (3)
Sharma, in ‘Gandhism,’ boldly criticizes the predicament of Gandhism in modern times which is now smeared with 'Slime of Violence.' He, here, with paradox of 'black' (violence) and 'white' (of values of Gandhi) creates a distinct effect which again assumes irony and satire:
To realize their Gandhism
In essence the Gandhian people
Will never take rest?
Until every citizen of India
(Save the follower of Gandhi)
Like Gandhi is left with
A lathi and loin cloth (5)
Here, with innuendoes, Sharma unfolds layers of reality behind humor. However, the suggestive mode behind the ironic flail against "corrupt and degenerate politics," at times, hints at dark future of the nation, and at another time pin-points the leaking holes of Indian political system.
The canvas of Sharma's poetry is much panoramic because the choice of themes as well as the choice of words for expressions remains the first priority of the poet who prefers appropriateness and logic in his creative processes. Socio-cultural, moral, spiritual, political, traditional, ethical, aesthetical all major themes of Indian literature are dealt with equal proportion. His portrayal of the predicament of Indian life, pointing out the plague spots in individual's personality and society can be seen superb in the poem 'Indian Rites' which are termed as "Bad Debts / That accrue to living Indian / From every death of his relation." In autobiographical tone, the poet tells the story:
For want of rice, ghee, milk
My father gave away
To undue death;
But to satiate
The gargantuan appetite of rituals
I offered pindas,
Ladled out ghee
On the dead father's dug pate
And debt upon heaped upon my fate. (7)
But the poet's zeal to espouse old rites that 'ossify' his 'progress' despite the consequences of gibbet or hard cross mirrors the chief trait of modern Indian English Poetry in the complete defiance of custom traditional replacing with more logical and scientific realities of life. In the above poem the Kapal Kriya, which is done by the Hindu son by breaking dead father's pate, pouring a few ladles of ghee, is realistically sketched by the poet, gives another glittering feature of references of Indian idiom and set-back in Indian English Poetry which for a long time remained a "perfect alien bride" (See Bhatnagar's observation). Here, the fresh original imagery and symbol contribute much to strengthen the heritage of our literature.
Again in the poem 'Barren Fields', contrary to the previous poem, he chides the individual disorganization, the major demerit of modern society where "self-conceited haughtiness" and "priggishness" are the trammels that don't let a husband and wife 'dove tail well'. On, the critical and complex relation of husband and wife which were usually based on love and mutual cooperation in the yore, are evaluated in an analytical way for the depiction of the "Silence which was the only commerce / manageable between them / Under the same roof of life / they lived aloof / in the apartment of their / clashing thoughts, pricking mannerisms" points to the poet's deep understanding of human relations of the modern times, but his presupposition is also not wrong.
They could have cultivated
the spring of affections
but in the Barren, hard soil
of their arrogance, fastidiousness
love was not possible to grow
to perfume their fusty lives. (6)
Sharma's poetry is strewn with the image of his sincere and genuine understanding of the age hag-ridden with affectation, arrogance, falsity and feverish feelings, and it is without any scope of any kind of fake idealism and false dreaminess. Therefore his voice becomes a potent slogan against fanaticism, frustration, anxiety, fear, and traumas of modern life which are languishing the age old human values of ancient scriptures of the Upanishads and the Puranas. Amid such ignoble and corrupt atmosphere where all primal goodness has eloped away, the dripping wounds of the poet have assumed the form of 'Melody called verse' and perhaps for this reason, in each of his poems, one can find lurking pain mixed with reality:
Women penetrate
Into the pulp of pains,
They ooze grief;
Sorrows solidity / In men;
Nuts do not leak. (11)
Sharma’s poems appeal more partly because of his lively pictures and strong linguistic choices and partly because of its dealing with autobiographical element which is employed by him in a number of poems. Due to internal love and association with people and things mixed with nostalgia. Sharma's conversational tone gets highly penetrating when he speaks:-
Like you mother
I can hardly live for others,
The height of pride
Is increasing in me,
My morals are frosted. (12)
A perfect conglomeration of poet and critic in Sharma is well aware of the limitations of the critic and poet:
It's beyond your ken
That rhythm can't do
The mathematics of grief,
Nor in rhyme can you play
The music of pain. (16)
And yet he tries his utmost to verbalize and sketch images. Like Charles Lamb, he entwines pathos and irony in humor in 'Clown’ and draws a perfect live picture:
When he parades the forte
Of his amusing sports
The hungry crowd relishes
The fine crumbs of amusement
In the ecstatic moments
of applause
Showered by people
He outgrows his dwarf agony. (13)
Sharma's poetic genius is devoid of the difficulty of most of Indian English poets (particularly the early poets) due to the absence of a framework for poetic symbolism which would communicate their own sense of sex, love, life, death and other basic elements of life, rather they imitated the image and symbol of British and American poets. Unlike such poets Sharma's idiom, images and symbols are extracted from India and his personal experiences arose out of Indian soil. His words sear the mind, stir the ripples of thoughts in the lake of soul and reveal the poetic personae with their vitality. His vision is both micro and macro, so his poetry, which is, though less in quantity, yet cosmic in quality, kaleidoscopic in nature, and oceanic in depth.
The poems ('Kashmir: Paradise on Earth', 'Pink City: Jaipur') of Sharma are not merely the poems written on situations, suicide, place and things, but his poems like 'Padmini', 'Laxmibai of Jhansi', 'Mother Teresa', 'Acharya Rajneesh's Right Place', 'Dostoevsky: My Mirror' are addressed to such luminaries of their respective fields.
'Kashmir: Paradise on Earth' is penned on the matchless beauty of Kashmir where he has never been physically but his delineation is both pictorial and sensuous:
It is enthralling to see how
nature celebrates Christmas here:
the vast expanse of virgin show
looks like
a Christmas cake colossus;
snow drizzles everywhere like
festoons raining festivities upon earth. (26)
Or in the poem 'Pink city: Jaipur', he gives a different picture:
Its roads are broad as
Permissive Europe, America.
Narrow are its streets
As scrupulous Asia.
People heap streets with
Their stinking neglect of hygiene. (30)
Sharma’s poetry mirrors urban society exhibits the realistic pulse of urbanization in a crystal-clear way:
City seethes
With varied desires
Of innumerable people
Nested in the alleys
Of their selfishness. (21)
Here, the comment of Satish Kumar is noticeable: "Sharma is an urban poet like Ezekiel, Parthasarthy, Shiv K. Kumar and I. H. Rizvi and like them he is keenly alive to the shortsightedness, narrow-mindedness, self-centeredness and atrophy of human relations" (Kumar: 283).
The delineation of the places whether historical or Metropolis, his vision remains both subjective and objective. In subjectivity, he finds his pain looming large in the heart of the city and in objectivity his eyes catch the beauty (Kashmir: Paradise on Earth) as well as ugliness equitably (‘Pink City : Jaipur’). However his depiction of people is reflective, tributary, heroic and frank in 'Luxmibai of Jhansi'. He remembers the valour of queen and pays his poetic offering by saying: "She died / In the harness of bravery / Engraved on enemies’ history / Her matchless valour" (20). Or in 'Padmini' when he sketches the valour of the queen who preferred Johar to submission before Khilzi, the emperor and says:
Since she sheathed
A vow not to let
A Khilzi bask
In her unique beauty,
She put on happily
The golden coffin of fire,
Endorsed a legend on flames. (19)
Or in 'Mother Teresa,' when he remembers the great saintly lady:
As flowers open out fragrance
She radiates his smiling love
Which kindles a spirit in people
To live their grief in a smile.
She fastens her compassion
On lepers whose nauseating looks
Of gingerous firgers, deformed forces
People cover with their loathing. (23)
However, his poem 'To a Modern Friend' is reflective where the poet observes that in overall freedom to children/ without any moral hedges, life gathers decadence and he says to his imaginary friend:
After a great loss
It dawned on you
That borrowed raiments
Of foreign cultures
Remain loose or skimpy,
The shoes of alien traditions
Always pinch the wearers (37)
The poem, 'Dostoyevsky: My Mirror,' wherein the poet with deliberate interpolation of the names of Dostoyevsky's novels creates music and new meaning: "As a ‘Gambler’ of goodness I bear / With the betrayal of my relatives / Sufferings are my ‘Brothers Karamazov’ / That has outlived my happiness" (14). And his self-assertion mirrors the poetic expression in a distinct way:
With the moments of pleasure stole
From the jovial gathering of my friends
I cheat myself to be gay, otherwise
Even my dreams evade catering
And so scrapping of joy for me (14)
A good deal of Sharma's poems carry philosophical overtone and values mixed with stark realities where the profundity and clarity of his thoughts and ideas can easily be witnessed. This is fairly a safe ground from where one can behold Sharma as a rare amalgam of contemporary Indian sensibility and as an authentic Indian English voice there are ample verbal facilities with profound meanings from where we start experiencing vast panorama of his poetic genius. 'Aftermath' is a poem mixed with emotions and realities wherein he, in conversational tone, mirrors the material outlook of a modern son and the altruistic outlook of a traditional mother (who is now no more):
Apathy you ever played
On your mother's old pains
Crowded with sorrow now
… … …
In the corner of your odium
The scriptures are heaped
With your introvert dirt (24)
The poem, 'Letter from a Lost Daughter', depicts the plight of gender discrimination and miserable condition of our so called modern society where dowry death, female feticide and exploitation of woman are common problems. He seems right when he says in the tone of a lost daughter:
Until I die my mother will
Remain pregnant with worries
From the diary of your grief
Papa I dug out the truth that
God drowned in your lonely tears. (33)
He attacks boldly the partial norms and customs of society. In his collection Melody of Wounds, Sharma has written two small love poems in which alliteration, assonance and repetition all have worked in for creating musical effect that fills the heart with rapture as well as pain. The separation of the beloved make the poet 'a cruet' / filled with / the fragrant void' of memories and again the drought of the same memories 'Sprinkles joy' on poet's 'gloom' (‘Love Poem-1’ 35) and while in (‘Love Poem-II’ 36) Sharma escapes from embroidering his talks with 'Shimmering promises' and shake heaven and bedeck his lover with star-jeweled-sky for he considers: "Turgid eulogy becomes / A pastime till shallow boasting / Stunts our reasoning" (36). He states simply:
I was natural, darling
When I clothed your love
That your love
Dispels my dismay,
Dips me in delight. (36)
Sharma's poetic talent is unquestionable for the quality of his expression, the excellent mastery of his vocabulary and language and the command over the rhythmic pattern make him singular as well as distinct. The other glittering features of his poetry can be discerned in the objectivity, the treatment of his subject and compactness of thoughts .
Though poetry is not a labored exercise or a deliberate attempt, yet a few of Sharma's poems seem to have the same quality wherein his conscious efforts 'to bedeck and bedaub' make him a bit verbose and wordy and yet the same limitation becomes his forte in other poems wherein he has masterly exercised in the wielding of poetic tools of images, symbols, phrases, rhythm and idea. Therefore, his poetry remains fresh, original and meaningful. He has never been away from 'Something more' of Niranjan Mohanty i.e. the environment, society everyday life and emotional involvement with the people and places.
Niranjan Mohanty in his research paper on O. P. Bhatnagar said:
Creative writing is not possible only by mastering a language,only by getting some degree of competence in that language. Perhaps, it requires something more: one ought to understand the place one lives in, the air one takes in the people with whom one shares essential moments of life. One must have a desire to understanding intensely and intimately. When this is won, language is not a barrier, and one can choose any language that suits one that expresses one best emotionally and intellectually. (Mohanty: 216)
To sum up, Sharma's poetry scatters a feast of delight by virtue of its aptness of words, phrases and expressions, profundity of thoughts, intensity of emotions and flashes of irony, wit and satire. His ironical poems make him sit atop the hill of Indian English Poetry as well as make us more and more inquisitive to look upon them and ruminate them over and over again and as a poet he deserves to be ranked with R. Parthasarthy, A. K. Ramanujum, Dom Mores, Pritish Nandy, Shiv K. Kumar, Nissim Eziekel, Arun Kolatkar and so on. In his unswerving dedication to poetry, vision of life, deep insight, impeccable language, originality, universal appeal, spontaneity, and flow all tend to establish him among such towering poets.
Works Cited
Bhatnagar, O. P. A Critic with a Big Heart. Ed. I. K. Sharma, Jaipur: Rachna Prakashan, 2006. O. P. Bhatnagar said that 'Indian English Poetry was novel a borrowed plume due to its imitativeness and lack of original themes'.
Kumar, Satish. A Survey of Indian English Poetry. Barielly:PBD,1998.
Mohanty, Niranjan. 'O. P. Bhatnagar's Poetry: the meaningful Glance', P.216, Studies in Contemporary Indo-English Verse- A Collection of Critical Essays on Male Poets Ed. Dr. A. N. Dwivedi, Bareilly : PBD,1984.
Sharma, Nar Deo. Melody of Wounds. 1984. Alwar: Ideal English Publications, 2007 (All the references of poetry are from the same edition).
Rizvi, I. H. and N. F. Rizvi. 'The Rapid Growth of English Poetry in India between 1917-1985', Chapter-7 Origin, Development and History of Indian English Poetry. Barielly: Prakash Book Depot, 2008.

Motherhood in the Novels of Anita Desai and Varsha Adalja by Jayaluxmi Jadeja

Jaylaxmi Jadeja
Motherhood in the Novels of Anita Desai and Varsha Adalja
Woman and motherhood are very closely associated in Indian social, religious and mythical systems. The Vedic notion that says Matrudevo bhava puts mother on the high pedestal of god/dev and hence highly respected and revered position. Motherhood is greatly admired and therefore a traditional Indian woman believes that her gratification or fulfillment is realized in motherhood alone. Childless married women are not only abused but also ill-treated in Indian society. Despite legal rights and other so-called social securities provided to women, the situation is still pathetic and much effort need to be made at the grass root level. On the extreme other end, in mythologies of many civilizations of the world including Indian and African, mother in the form of Goddess and mother Earth are connected to creation myth. Their variant roles such as creator, caretaker and carrier of culture are worshipped. Such a disparity has been the prime concern of feminism ever since its beginning. Marriage, pregnancy, parturition and child rearing are issues very crucial to feminist literary theory and criticism. Marriage, marital harmony spousal relationship and motherhood are often used as measuring units in judging the position of woman in a particular society. Feminist literature and criticism exhibit and attempt to lessen this distance and disparity between mythical-ideal and social-real position of woman.
The present paper compares Anita Desai and Varsha Adalja in the light of the concept of motherhood treated by them in some of their novels. Anita Desai's the Cry the Peacock, Where Shall We Go this Summer, Fire on the Mountain, and Clear Light of Day and Varsha Adalja's Mare Pan Ek Ghar Hoy, Retpankhi, Matinu Ghar and Shag Re Sankorun are selected for a comparative analysis.
These novels exhibit a visible pattern of women's rising consciousnesses towards their selfhood. What makes this over-all pattern interesting and challenging are the variations within the over-all pattern. The variation emerges from the different kinds of repressive forces depicted, the protagonists' individual methods of dealing with these forces and most interestingly, the authors' different attitudes to the same complex problem of establishing female selfhood. All the women characters of these novels by Anita Desai and Varsha Adalja become the victims of patriarchy. The patriarchal constructs may be family or/and society. Maya, the protagonist of Desai's Cry the Peacock reacts violently in the end like Lata, the protagonist of Adalja's Matinu Ghar. Both end their marriage, by killing their husbands, under the effect of schizophrenia. However, the causes of this schizophrenic state with Maya are father-fixation, death phobia inserted in her by the albino prophecy, unaccomplished motherhood and inability to give enough vent to her sexual urge. Lata arrives at the schizophrenic state due to traumatic childhood inflicted upon her by her cruel father, her inability to come out of its effect, and her inability to accept the loss of her sister and mother caused due to unnatural deaths. Mangaldas the father of Lata had longed for a son who would continue his family lineage. It was Lata an unwanted daughter born and never loved by her father that left a never to heal scar in her mind. Being motherless and not having attained motherhood Maya sees her existence as futile. Concepts of Matrutva (motherhood) and Matrushakti (mother goddess) are deeply ingrained in the psyche of Indian women. Maya remains a child-woman perhaps because she is motherless and could not become mother herself. "…my childhood was one in which much was excluded, which grew steadily more restricted, unnatural even, and in which I lived as a toy princess in a toy world" (CP 89). It seems that Desai's women characters are more under the sway of modernism. Moreover, the conflict arises because they are unable to come out of the traditions so deeply rooted in them. In both the novels (CP & MG), the myth of lord Shiva and Amba are respectively used to reinforce the motif of woman's power to destroy the evil. In Cry, the Peacock what is a hindrance in Maya's self-actualization is evil in the form of Gautam who is unable to fulfill the emotional urge of Maya and make her a mother. In Matinu Ghar, Lata brings a disaster in her own life by inadvertently killing her husband instead of her father. She succeeds in killing the demon in her father but the price paid is the life of Anand and her own death-like life for she eventually slips into coma. He undergoes repentance and regrets the injustice he did to his family. Lata's attachment to her mother and a motherly sister is so intense that she cannot fit properly in her own happy life without them. Her mother was a worshipper of Goddess Amba. In addition, she too visualizes herself in the role of Goddess destroying the asuras(demons). Thus, motherhood and matrushakti (mother goddess) motifs remains a very strong common feature of these two novelists.
These motifs take an ambiguous turn when we meet Sita unwillingly to give birth to her fifth child. This pregnancy leads her to re-examine herself in the light of a woman haunted by the spirit of her mother who had left the children at the care and mercy of their father who had incestuous relations with her stepsister. The ambiguity of the parent's image detains her from growing up a whole human being. She doubts whether she had really enjoyed pregnancy, parturition and child rearing. She too is motherless but she is saved from being very neurotic because on the island she realizes that she must not push her children into similar fate like hers. Motherhood, though not complete at least partially gives her self-actualization. On the other hand Adalja's Sunanda the protagonist of Retpankhi is an orphan, brought up by her uncle and aunt. The novelist genuinely depicts Sunanda's sexual urge, an unusual instance in Gujarati novel writing. Desai's Maya, Adalja's Sunanda and Vasant are the women who try to express their sexual desire but without proper reciprocation. In Sunanda's case, her lover is accidentally sent away by fate and the novelist to America leaving Sunanda to enjoy her practical self-actualization in being a foster mother to Seema the daughter of her neurotic cousin Tara. Nanda Kaul's (the grand old woman of Fire on the Mountain) retreat Kasauli Hills is in it a unique step into the arena untread by women so far. Males are considered as worthier of such spiritual pursuit than women are in this zone. Nanda had longed for the life of a recluse ever since her marriage but it became possible only after the death of her husband. Her husband a Vice- Chancellor had a life long extra marital love affair with a woman whom he could not marry because she was a Christian. Unable to throw away the societal and psychological dogmas Nanda Kaul pulls along in the roles of wife, mother, grandmother and host till the death of her husband. She retreats to Kasauli Hills with a thought that she had now done away with the world. Marital disharmony and a compelled motherhood and great grand motherhood is the prime concern of Desai's Fire on the Mountain. Parallel to this is Adalja's Shag Re Sankorun, which deals with the theme of brhamacharya (celibacy). The protagonist Vasant does not shift to different location but within the grihasthashram they are recluse. Her husband Krishakant's vow of celibacy taken out of pseudo religiosity is forced upon her also. In Indian context, expression of female sexuality before marriage and even after marriage is considered as immoral. Anuradha Roy writes:
In Indian society, even at the fag end of the twentieth century, centuries of indoctrination regarding the expression of female sexuality continue to hold ground. A natural expression of a woman's sexual nature within and outside the hollowed precincts of marriage is summarily branded as immoral, for female sexuality is traditionally centered around the function of reproduction. (Roy: 44)
In addition, interestingly enough the life long suffering of Vasant whose passionate love making to her husband is branded as an act of lust and her daughter, Ami, conceived of this act as fruit of her sin, lust. Yet if Vasant sustains in her twenty long lonely years is because she had actualized herself completely in her motherhood. She had given her daughters, Meghna and Ami, roots and wings both to develop as individuals representing 'New Woman'.
Bim, the protagonist of Clear Light of Day, becomes the victim of the family. She is an aging spinster, frustrated and furious for twenty years for not being able to forgive Raja, her brother, for having left her and Baba, their autistic brother, to live by themselves. She rejects the institution of marriage (perhaps from her observation of her parents’ and Mira-masi's lives) and still it is always Bim who is caring and nursing her ailing brother Raja, neurotic and alcoholic aunt and mentally retarded brother, Baba. By choosing to be Baba's motherly guardian and a teacher of history by profession, she not only attains her self-actualization but also creates a landmark in the history of Desai's women characters. Once again we see it is through foster motherhood, that Bim accomplishes her self-hood. Quite similarly, in Adalja's Mare Pan Ek Ghar Hoy, Leena becomes the victim of her family and attains self-actualization through being a foster mother of Apurva, the son of her schizophrenic sister Surekha. The picture that then becomes clear is; for Desai's women motherhood alone is not always enough for her women's self-actualization. They still yearn for something else, of which they themselves may not be sure. Adalja seems to be more footed in Indian soil, and hence her women characters may wish to pursue vocation but motherhood either biological in case of Vasant or foster in case of Leena and Sunanda is enough to make them harmonious whole human beings.
It is thus quite evident that both the women novelists have used the concept of motherhood as one of the themes in the above-mentioned novels. They have responded to it in their own ways. Though it seems that Anita Desai has tried to problematize motherhood as in the case of Sita and Nanda Kaul, she endorses it very strongly and clearly in the case of Bim.It is with Bim that the motherhood transcends to vasudhaiv-kutumbakam (world as family). She looks after the servants and pets of Hyder Ali after their departure to Hyderabad. On the other hand, Adalja has consistently endorsed motherhood as an important aspect of Indian woman's self-actualization. Leena and Sunanda attain fulfillment of their life's purpose in becoming foster mothers to Apurva and Seema respectively. Once again, it is because of motherhood that Vasant is able to fight the hypocrisy and pseudo-religiosity of her husband Krishnakant. Vasant, the mother of two young daughters, Meghna and Ami ,extends the idea of vaishvik chetna (global consciousness) and thus transcends above her husband's fake orthodox vaishnav religiosity.
To conclude it can be said that the concept of motherhood remains quite central in the novels of Anita Desai and Varsha Adalja. Feminism may undergo various phases of change and vicissitudes but for an Indian woman it is not very easy to do away with a concept so deeply rooted in her. Thus, it would not be too much to say that motherhood is sociologically, psychologically and mythologically associated with Indian womanhood.
Works Cited
Desai, Anita. Cry, The Peacock. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks; [1963] 1980.
---.Where Shall We Go This Summer. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks; [1975] 2005.
---. Fire on the Mountain. London: Vintage; [1977] 1999.
---. Clear Light of Day. London: Vintage; [1980] 2001.
Roy, Anuradha. Patterns of Feminist Consciousness in Indian Women Writers. New Delhi:Prestige Books;1999.
Adalja, Varsha. Mare Pan Ek Ghar Hoy. Ahmedabad: R. R. Sheth & Co; [1971] 2001.
---. Ret Pankhi. Ahmedabad: R. R. Sheth & Co.; [1974] 1996.
---. Matinu Ghar. Ahmedabad: R. R. Sheth & Co.; [1991] 1998.
---. Shag Re Sankorun. Ahmedabad: R. R. Sheth & Co.; 2004.