Jaydeep Sarangi: Silent Days
Collection of Poetry
Allahabad: Cyberwit.net. 2013
ISBN: 978-81-8253-396-7 Pages 68. Price Rs 200 / US $ 15
Jaydeep Sarangi had already established himself as a poet with an authentic and unique voice with his first anthology of poems- From Dulong to Beas: Flow of the soul. One of the reviewers of his first book called him, ‘Bard on the banks of Dulong’. The poet is more than happy to be called so, he admits with simplicity that is disarming, in the acknowledgement.
Jaydeep says, ‘as a poet, I am committed and my commitments are in multitude. It is more than evident in the collection ‘Silent Days’. In a couple of poems- The act of Writing, Bilingual Bard, he shares with his readers why he writes. In the poem – Bilingual Bard, the closing line:
I never take an artificial mask in my poems
As I read this line, I couldn’t help thinking about Rainer Maria Rilke, acclaimed German poet, and his – Letters to a Young Poet. He advises the young poet, who seeks him out for advice; in one of the letters- Withdraw into yourself. Explore the reason that bids you write, find out if it has spread its roots in the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die, if writing should be denied to you. Above all, ask yourself in the silent hour of the night, “Must I write?”
He elaborates, “paint your sadnesses and your desires, your passing thoughts and your belief in some kind of beauty- paint all that with quiet and modest inward sincerity.”
Writing is an inner compulsion; a good poet never takes an artificial mask. It’s journey within to understand oneself and process one’s deepest thoughts, experiences, growth, vulnerabilities and strengths.
‘Silent Days’ is a collection of 50 poems. The poems have been composed in a state of deep contemplation, when one is connected to one’s deepest self, intuition and the light permeates the being. One can then see one’s reflection in crystal clear water and face the truth as he sees it, with equanimity. While engaging with the poems, it feels as if one is going on a river cruise, with the poet, who manoeuvres the boat with ease, for he knows the river well. Do the rivers know their destination… I wonder. One simply steps in, in a mood of receptivity, for the first thing is that you must come to it, meet and complete it. What makes a distinct impression on reading this slim volume is- simplicity, abundance of creativity, devoid of sentimental exuberance, and extreme economy of words. It’s evident the poet writes foremost for self expression and communication. He doesn’t tax a reader’s patience by unnecessary load of vague allusions. Thus a reader doesn’t lose patience, and connects to the poems at his or her pace.
He acknowledges, “Life associated with the sweet and silent flow of local streams and small things that keep happening everyday are my poetic passion”.
As I went over the content list, I was struck by the title of the opening poem in the volume- STOP HERE, PLEASE! I felt perhaps, there was a gentle command by the poet, to begin here, before going any further. I was intrigued enough to start with the first poem.
This poem captures a state of fatigue and helplessness that overwhelms us in a state of despair, which spills over in a moment of impotent rage. The poem has to be reproduced for better appreciation of the poet’s grip over the medium in which he chooses to express himself.
Dear old sucker of light
Believe me, you are a slave in our semi urban
Consort in a Metro suburb.
Kind folk tempt you
You poison them in sweet return
With your valor and tongue.
You are cold for sometime
And untimely hot again.
And you leave us.
I take your clothes off.
The poet and the poem, are a revelation in terms of choice of theme, words employed to create vivid imagery, treatment, silences created through line and stanza breaks- short, terse, without any coating to make a bitter pill sweet. His disgust at the hypocrisy in our lives lingers long, and one decides to take a break before moving on to the next poem. One doesn’t expect less from an accomplished man of letters.
In the last line, he captures his compulsion to strip our urban lives of all pretence, his anger spilling over with vehemence .I suggest, you read the last line aloud and hear its impact.
Stop Here, Please! Is a plea to check the malaise, before people go over the brink. The poet pleads, voice choked with intense emotions.
In the act of creation, a creative person tries to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional to get it out of yourself — confronting things that you hate and things that you love. In doing so, many a time, he too is surprised at what shape his work takes. You are honest and write about what you have experienced with your whole being. The poet writes about what he has experienced, felt, observed closely, reflected on, over a life span. The themes- love, longing, socio- political concerns, time have been dealt with immense clarity and compassion.
In the poem- Flight, the poet rebels against absence of freedom to be different. He feels stifled. Why can’t he be dynamic like a river, he wonders.
Why should I be the rock?
Like the reckless flow
I would gush unstoppable.
Immovable, thick, stagnant knowledge-
You remain so.
Why do you even dream
To make me your mate?
May my wings get drenched
In the sky-rending monsoons.
As a reader, you immediately connect with the feeling of suffocation and entrapment, within the confines of knowledge where there is no scope for new outlook, fresh perspectives, and an open dialogue. He wants to be free like a bird and test his skills at flying into new, unexplored territories.
In the poem – Guest
Rolling time stopped by my doorstep
And I opened my gate
Like a butterfly in a hurry, it couldn’t wait for long
I wonder how the dead now find it difficult to rest in peace.
The poet puts his finger on the malady of our times - haste, galloping pace of time, and disorder in our personal lives. What stands out is that the poet is able to show so much in a few short, crisp lines. The closing line again made me halt, pause, reflect and nod thoughtfully.
In another poem- Missed calls:
The cell phone erases boundaries
Between meeting up or not
Promises hide their faces
Amidst crowds of everyday duties.
Never in the history of man, there have been so many means of communication. But we are so hard pressed for time, due to sheer weight of a cluttered mind that we feel disconnected and displaced. Gone are the days of simple life and desires, the poet ruefully laments.
With the aroma of chanachur and puffed rice
I remember …
The pleadings of the boy back home-
“Bring me colour pencils today”.
What stands out is that poet moves from outer to inner world of fond memories effortlessly.
A poem titled – For Tittas – his young daughter, he writes with great adoration and deep affection. He creates a world of fantasy and games children invent, probably musing on his own childhood.
God, as if is manifest
In your steps
There are some lingering shadows of pain here
Our treasured dreams
In your eyes
And give shade to burning old age.
Life tracks are parallel
Side by side.
The poem closes on a philosophical note.
It’s as if the poet has taken us through the length and breadth of emotions over a life time.
In the poem – The Red Soil Allure
I wish to suddenly break asunder
The long nurtured impure- mind- pot
Longing for the red soil
Corrodes me day by day
Here again through vivid images, the poet makes his restlessness, and longing for the red soil, where he grew up, alongside a river bank, with tribal children, palpable. In the opening lines he creates images through which he expresses his fury on the brink of explosion.
Those who dream at the end of day
By the canal and empty their hearts
To take in pain again
Poet expresses his anguish over the lives of marginalised sections of society with touching empathy.
The loose strands from Ma’s saree remind me
That my own ones dwell, in the land of red soil.
The choice of word – Allure – made me again think, is the poet hinting that the past cannot be revived, one can merely revisit it in memories. In poems like ‘My dream’ and ‘A Rose is a Rose’, the poet takes up themes where he shares his compassion for the young and the weaker, vulnerable sections of society.
In the poem – A Rose is a Rose, he writes
Blue wings of my imagination
Run wild among my ruined terrace
Of sad history of women in our country
I am a man too
I too have a darling daughter
And I fear the world, where she is a flower.
The sky is deep blue today
But we never know what follows next day.
Fugitive time rolls on
And makes us mad every moment.
The moral within is like a torch
In a dark night
When a snake is mistaken as a rope.
We have forgotten even to dream.
Colourful and bright.
All men and women wait for
The auspicious hour and a tranquil sky.
With great restraint and poise, expresses his agony over the acts of extreme cruelty against women and girl child. The title poem ‘Silent Days’ has been composed in a deep state of introspection. Poet is disillusioned. The long cherished dreams and beliefs are fading. In his words:
Someone told me
‘You are passing through a phase; silent days.’
It is true and fair,
I am waiting for an announcement
Fast losing my long cherished red rose
Its charm and colour
In daily gospel of preparing my face:
What are really my native and loving own.
I shall ask the woodcutter
To cut my shadow as it is difficult to wait for sunrise.
The poem is full of inner disquiet, in complete contrast to the title of the poem, however, there is serenity in expression. The poet doesn’t feel at home in the world.
In almost every poem, the concluding lines give one a whack in the head. One goes over them- sharp, incisive images and connotations take one by surprise and leave a deep imprint on the psyche.
In the poem – Towards the center, the poet shares his distress and sense of loss, fast urbanization that is gobbling up our village paths, where he grew up, and wanders with longing, after having migrated to the city for better opportunities.. It’s touching comment on contemporary man’s life, struggles and dilemma.
We all know
We are on the street
Muddy village paths
On the move
To the center of things
Can a rickshaw puller speak out
The untold legacy of subjugation?
People exchange series of lies.
Promises are forgotten
As a method in madness.
We are crawling for a walking stick!
I am astounded that almost all the poems have been composed in words with one or two syllables.
In poems titled - Goddess Lakshmi and Your name is Shiva, the poet captures the beliefs and myths that abound in our culture, without any attempt to demystify the same.
In the poem – Missing Link, finally, the poet shares, poetry is his sanctuary, to which he quietly withdraws when the cacophony outside becomes deafening.
Veiled and guarded
Silence makes a stiff circle of daily dark of a quiet phase
Where poetry is the window of hope
That takes me beyond
The vile illusion of transience
To the core of my blissful being
Where I pulsate in loving timelessness.
To get in touch with the core of our being is what we owe ourselves. Pursuit of Happiness is what we eventually need to work on with utmost sincerity.
In the last poem - Going to a Holy place
A place is a point in a virtual map
Of holy life,
A point of attention
For a purpose noble and dear,
When the mind is a beggar
For food for the soul
Somewhere, I hear a door turning for the final time
In a silent room of its own.
The last poem is significant, because the poet has an epiphany, for peace, we have to enrich our inner lives, go home to ourselves.
‘Silent Days’ is a significant anthology, as here poet Jaydeep Sarangi takes us through brutal acceleration of history, the revolutions in politics, culture, technology, and its impact on our lives and society. The poems have been composed in Zen like mindfulness. The poems are extremely accessible. The reader doesn’t need an extensive vocabulary (although a glossary is provided in the end to explain meaning of ethnic words). The poems do not require an academic concentration, but a close attention to the actual language on the page, the word arrangement, the stanzas, line breaks and the effect they have on all our senses, mind and psyche.
The readers will look forward to his next collection of poems with curiosity and anticipation.