Amit Radha Krishna Nigam. Musings of Desire: Poems. Partridge India, 2015, ISBN: 9781482859607, pages 234. Price: Rs 450
A young IT employee gets relocated to Australia for about three years. In a foreign land, quite often the thinker in him starts musing on various issues of import surrounding the existence of a guy-in-transit and discovers the value of impermanence. These odd musings function as the foundation for a deeper analysis of life. Working on the draft for two years or so, he produces a book of around150 poems, appropriately called Musings of Desire. Re-locations, temporary, can be as painful and nostalgic as an economic or political migration, causing disruptions temporal-spatial-psychological, creating a void somewhere in a sensitive personality. Amit Nigam finds comfort in remembering; in love, loss and memory of that-is-not. The best anti-dote to any absence is memory---the capacity to recall events randomly; the great human capacity to summon the past into your immediate context, your present, and re-live it. Remembrance of things past is most creative function of human mind. A poet’s mind has greater capacity to revive the lapsed and re-create that lost territory in a strange fusion of past-present at the moment of recall.
The central theme of this third book by the poet happens to be desire. The current civilizational template revolves around production of desires only. The urge for something can be very strong motive. Nostalgia and memory can be part of the desire for a therapeutic recovery of past.
This particular poem catches a sense of such a universal desire for what-is-not in a nuanced manner by looking through time, and, thus, destabilizing conventional modes of looking at its passage in the physical dimension. This unique faculty successfully re-positions a lost moment into the psyche of a remembering subject. The language is sheer poetry:
See through time.
Even more, a little farther, beyond, and within
the corners of our living rooms,
over the sink,
in the magnets that we thumb to the door of the fridge,
inside loveseat’s leather,
- Memories are sweetly nesting.
They have made a house within our house,
Reclining upon the soft couch in the shed. During daytime,
secretly basking in the glorious light
that comes from our faces when we know them by heart.
Seldom, when light goes out without any warning,
I try to stretch my hands to find a torch in the dark, and I
thoughtlessly rub my palm with them,
But every time, before I could reach properly to details of any
of those anecdotes, a scissor or a blade cuts
my finger and my heart bleeds for the past, for a while,
and then it stops bleeding.
And in the self-talking of my mother with herself
when she’s cooking a surprise dish for me,
memories of the school wake up from the nap.
And when old pictures are re-discovered,
I talk to the people in it and they listen to me intently.
As if they are also holding a copy of this same photo somewhere.
We should let our kids play with them sometimes
And ask them to let theirs play too.
They are with us and we are with them,
all the time forever,
doesn’t matter how many houses we change or re-build,
they’ll follow us, like our pet dogs, like our own ridiculously
intoxicating smell. (Mornings without you, p.89)
Another poem “Threshold of Memories” explores the same idea further. The vividness is striking:
Todays and yesterday’s memories
Of loss shall never depart
And sorrows of tomorrow sit already
Filled in all four chambers of my heart.
The false words of friends, of hope
Of nourishments, to heal my scars
Of foretime have done more damage
Than all my ensuing wars.
Of all the faces known, one remains
Of all the lessons forgotten, one live
Of all the loses we must bear, our own
And these only have peace to give. (p. 90)
Memory is non-memory in this section of his book. For the poet, the ability to bring to life the spent moments, the desire for continuity, the very continuum, is time-defying, almost Bergsonian or Proustian, in effect. Poetry as a special form of communication is well-equipped to handle this process of excavation and careful salvage. In, “Today’s and yesterday’s memories”, the identical search for situatedness is articulated as a romantic yearning, an expression of desire for a sacred coupling that is love at its intense and still haunts:
Little Kisses of fondness
That we drank from each other sacred lips
Now hark the whispers of the night,
Night that was only half spent, and half kept.
And now, my lips are dry, thirsty again
And crawl in nights to find yours,
Biting every moment of desire,
Keeping every amber of the love,
We made when our forms met. (p.91)
It is a powerful book investigating emotions equally powerful and exerting a strange pull on humankind for centuries. Love---reaffirmation of self in the other; fusion; then blending of singularities and identity of dualism---makes us human. Its loss? Well, that makes us versifiers, chasing the fleeting impressions on a darkening beach.
Read the collection of short and long poems for their innate intensity and rhythmic nature.