P-En-Chants by Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy. Cyberwit.net, Allahabad.
ISBN 978-81-8253-568-8 Price Rs. 300/- Pages 203
Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo, said Don Marquis. Padmaja Iyengar’s maiden volume of poetry with the exhilarating title P-En-Chants stands out with assurance and elan and makes the above adage misplace its denotation.
The poems are grouped under six categories obviously focusing on themes. True to the poet’s fine sense of humour, the poems on ‘Humour & Satire’ invade the readers first. The very first poem ‘English Vinglish’ guarantees a guffaw to stir up ones belly;
“I’ll marry my sister first,
And it’ll be my turn next,
When my mother will marry me” (Page 21)
All of us have been to the dentist some time or other, but the way the poetess explains it makes a mundane experience a memorable one in poems ‘Helplessness’ and ‘Dentistricks’. To express an experience in a memorable way is a skill to be perfected and Padmaja amply displays it.
Unable to let out even a “Ouch!”
Here am I on a dentist’s couch...
For an experience really chilling,
Go, get yourself a dental filling! (Page 23)
The scornful humour of the poetess highlights the appalling situation in today’s world in poem titled ‘What a Life!’ which concludes as follows:
Doctors without Principles
Politicians without scruples
Leaders without a mission
A country without a vision. (page 39)
There are quite a few poems that ease your nerves in this section and I wish the readers to fully capture the thrill and enjoyment without losing the newness in a pre-read and hence cross over to the next section.
Poems in the second section ‘Tributes’ showcases the author’s affinity towards cricket, music etc., and have poems on renowned personalities in various fields. Her deep admiration towards P.G. Wodenhouse is reflected in the poem titled ‘An Ardent Fan’s Tribute to P G Wodenhouse’
Subtle humour’s ultimate powerhouse,
Was none other than P G Wodehouse! (Page 51)
Poem titled ‘Chennai City, Jai Ho’ is a fine piece of work which extols organ donation and is based on a real incident happened in Chennai , transporting the freshly harvested heart from the brain dead donor reaching the recipient in a record time, thanks to the cohesive efforts of various concerned departments. Padmaja puts her admiration in her poem like this;
A mother turned her son’s loss,
In to an organ donation cause,
That galvanized an entire city,
To rise with pride and dignity. (Page 53)
The heart-wrenching end of Baby Falak makes the readers restless. The pain and anguish of the poetess reflects in the following lines;
I should have cried,
When Baby Falak died..
But my tears remain unshed -
It is good that she’s dead,
With God at last on her side! (page 55)
Padmaja is full of gratitude to her son Hemant, who has ever been her inspiration. The conviction of the poetess here is infectious.
………………. I took them head on,
Believing that after struggle, relief will dawn..
My conviction never failed me,
As I carried on with life truthfully... (page 70)
The third section ‘Some stories’ comparatively shorter with eight poems deals with various social issues in a narrative style, making the readers genuinely engrossed and forcing them to tread along the mindscapes of the poetess. Poem titled ‘All About a (Non) Mover & (Non) Shaker’ talks about the extra-ordinary grit and steadfastness of the protagonist, I quote a sample stanza alone here for brevity though I want to quote more;
Blackouts, aches and pains
Injuries, sutures and bloodstains –
All became a part of her life,
But was it all only tears and strife..? (Page 87)
The fourth section ‘Some Management Mumbo Jumbo’, as the title indicates focuses on some management subjects and principles like six thinking hats, Warren Buffet Mantras, Communication, among a few others. The Poem on Risk Taking is a lesson for all times. I quote it in full.
The risk appetite,
Can be hard to fight,
But let not success,
Lead to risks excess....
Risks should to be calculated,
With pros and cons weighed.
All factors be well estimated,
With plans that are well laid.
If it’s worth the risk,
Take the fall,
And if it’s what you want,
Then it’s worth it all....!
(The last stanza is a quote from annonymous) (Page 109)
There are quite a lot of Movie Reviews in the fifth section including the one on Mary Kom. The last section P-En-Chants is comparatively longer with 50 poems, many of them short poems.
No poet is worth their name unless they express their anguish and concern on the despicable crimes against women. The poetess has a heaving heart compassionate and considerate as is revealed in her poem ‘ Nirbhaya Lives on’.
Strong signals need to be sent out;
With actions swift leaving no doubt,
That perpetrators will be caught and punished;
And they will be permanently banished,
From any right to move freely about...! (Page 142)
Her passion for writing is clearly spelt out in poem titled ‘’Patient(ly), Heal Thyself!’ which concludes like this:
At last, I have found my panacea;
I write and that gives me euphoria.
My mind is now a lively playground;
Thoughts and words frolick around. (Page 175)
Her London experience is reflected in the poem ‘Namastey London’ , where the author wants people to exchange at least a smile or make an eye contact while they meet which will stay with both for long and bring happy surprises. Being a short one, I quote it in full.
A very sensible tip,
For the stiff upper lip,
To break into a smile,
Every once in a while.
Oh Londoners, come on!
Herald a nice new dawn.
A smile is never wrong,
It forges bonds strong.
An eye contact here,
A bright smile there;
See the positives they bring,
Happy surprises they spring! (Page 184)
Poem titled ‘Riya’s Two Front Teeth Gone..’ is a work not with words, but with a heart full of love towards her grand-daughter Riya. I am sure the readers would visualize or imagine how they would have/would be expressing their love on a similar occasion. The innocence of the kid is finely captured in the following lines:
She placed her missing teeth
Beneath a small little wreath
And left it below her bed
Just as Mamma had said. (Page 196)
The magnanimous mind-set of the poetess with regard to organ donation is reflected in the poem titled ‘One Last Wish’;
I do not know my worth,
As a human on this earth.
But it is my burning desire,
Before I’m consigned to fire,
That my organs help those in dearth. (Page 198)
A remarkable quality of the author displayed throughout this collection of poems is her sense of humour, besides deftness to handle English language, rhyming, and her acumen in handling any subjects with ease. Though many poems touch social evils and contemporary issues nailing them straight, the author has not tried to moralize or preach too much.
One more notable facet I want to point out is the beautiful sketches by Pankaj Kumar Saxena which enhances the visual appeal. The enchanting cover design is also by him, which makes an instant chord with the readers.
I consider myself privileged to review this unique work of Padmaja Iyengar – Paddy and I have no doubt in putting it straight that this work of hers would be an asset to our collection of books. Clothed in a language of simplicity, they go straight to the heart of the readers.