Universal Witness (Thematics Publications Pvt. Ltd. Latur, 2014) is the first book of poems by Dr P. V. Laxmi Prasad, an author and critic. He is a poet of the masses and whatever he sees around, fills a tender heart intensely with pity, anxiety and concern and therefore, he tries to define inner complexities of feelings and thoughts vividly and frankly while conveying a message of love and compassion. He touches different subjects and while making an objective study, he establishes a silent relationship of empathy with the reader. He is obvious, explicit and plain about life and philosophy. He is sad when he observes hardnosed apathy towards what was glorious in past. Computer age has deprived man of fine sensibility and plainness of words he often writes on paper. ‘A Caged Bird’ is a reflection of what man has done while he takes a mouse in hand.
The thought appears again, in ‘Computers’ 115, the ‘indefatigable and inexhaustible child’ lives:
as integral part of life
the world window
like global village…all exciting, thrilling
all watchful, wonderful
to prove at end
man sans computers
computer sans man…
Therefore, a not very bright scenario of life emerges to deliberate afresh. Is it not a mind-numbing walk from futility to ultimate ruin? A question arises. He is very clear about what a teacher should do so that he carries the burden of modernism. In between, he looks at relations with penetrative eyes and pays tributes to the greatness of parents, especially a dutiful mother, who ‘teaches the frontiers/ Of life to Perfection/ a flawless character…’ 6
Many a time, it appears, he gives expression to deep experiences. He tells feelingly and never worries about the thought. In simple living, he wants to convey truths of life and so does not behave like a learned pundit. However, he talks of creation mysterious, mother earth, natural phenomenon, melodies and tales of birds, life of co-existence and unity, morals and diversity in life, birth and death. (8, 9, 10, 11 and 12) and thus, highlights anxieties of man quite convincingly.
Simple questions in ‘Curfew of Life’ 12 shock and provoke a man to think genuinely how a man lives in dreadful times and so he talks of life, it tribulations, questions of safety, joys, grief, passions and destination. He hints at the anarchic relations he nurses in life without love and compassion while arson continues in moral system of life in the society including families. Perhaps, purification is required if man has to become meaningful. Poet is tragically worried about the fate and destiny of man, who does not move to placid heavens but feels driven to disturbed land of pain and sufferings unmitigated, for uncertainty and surprises coerce man to puzzling situations, so he tells in ‘Cycle of Life’ 14. ‘Destination of Dreams’ 16 creates an inner world where eyes look out what transpires in the world outside, and the poet thinks of:
Struggles of existence uncompromising
to knock trying hands,
ambitions of untired chasings
foundation-stones to hit milestones
diverting life-pavement I attempt
like a pole-voulter to reach destination
He makes a symbolic journey where life turns out an exhibition. He hints at the pretense and simulation in life but does not love truth. He looks at fire from different angles and concludes –
Fire Within Raking up past,
All fuelling Men,
To Fire on “n” Under. 19
He thinks of freedom and wishes to visit ‘Garden of Dreams’ and ‘…Hearts where he enjoys ‘Relishing airs of purity, Serenity, tranquility /That perfume the garden-where He dwells at Puri’ and so suddenly, he finds solace in the divine.
He knows human life is momentary, ‘For Man to Perish in/The Vicinity of “Time” 29. Such personalized judgments, attitudes and feelings visit and revisit poet’s mental landscape and raise teasing questions. Poet in Prasad finds life imperfect and so he is never at peace. If a disjointed life of man disturbs him, he is equally worried about environmental pollution suffocating man slowly. Life is the subject of many lyrics in different shades. He connects life to the world of dreams, imagination, practical aspects that give pain, and life that offers joys and pleasures. One finds it deeply messed-up. He talks of life inscrutable and at times, haziness in life baffles a sensitive poetic mind. Unknowingly, the poet embarks on a journey of life where mysteries stump and hence, he fails to arrive at a destination about which he appears still indecisive.
Like a ‘traveller’ 106, he carries the burden of life and continues the endless voyages but –
his thirst of sojourns
everyday flashes of awareness
his hunger of life –untired traveler
from point to point’
Whereas in ‘Universal Witness,’ he (?) ‘shakes thinking brains, /raining, reflecting mankind, /dignified, broken silences /to maintain, standing like erecting visible/ glass /its pen that immortalizes souls of creations /to act witness’ 107. The poet is quite explicit and yet he hides the real intent (possibly uncertain?) of unrelenting inquiry into the mystery of life.
Poet’s inquiries remain inconclusive. His hunger to know the incomprehensible is apparent. Childhood memories assail and entertain. At other moments, journey of life appears ‘shattered down the memory lane’ where terrorism destroys peace. Explosions at crowded places make life doubtful and insecure as fears fill. More so –
disgruntled politics of
politicians ruling the roost,
cancerous growth of bribery
and corruption spreading
like wild fire …
Therefore, ‘all life’s passing into fearfully /panic –stricken depths of darkness’ 36, 37, paints a dismal picture of modern life. However, time teaches a great lesson. If man commits blunders and sins, another man fails to evaluate the man correctly. However, a man cannot escape the ‘Judgment of Time’ for repulsive and righteous deeds he does on earth -
Time is prudent judge
behind past & present
life of imperfections purged
in the womb of entrances & exists. 41
Man and life, family and society, brittle relations and locales of man in the societal areas continue to determine feelings and thoughts of the poet. He lives on earth and yet he goes beyond to find out the essence of man’s life. To him, man loves beauty and glory, and intellectual hunger grows as he gains maturity. He thinks of earth, its resources, and then suddenly, he thinks of the sky and the clouds.
A tentative journey continues. Man has the world at his feet and yet he cannot hold it confidently, for its vastness and immensity defies easy access. He wants man to learn eternal truths of hard work, and wishes man to observe prudence, avoid fury and temptation, and further urges him meditate on inner creative faculties, and if he does, he would grow. He makes a pertinent observation:
Learn to cheer the flows –
Sweating, rejoicing of both
Trios of hateful, painful, blissful
Order of natural, human tendencies
Toil! Toil! Learn to toil. 61-62
Feelings for man never relent even when he asks him to pursue labour, toil without rest, walk without hope of a shade to sit and enjoy flashes of cool breeze. In the ‘Rainbow of Feelings’ a man should seek joy and reprieve. Feelings are like the ‘greenness of earth that kisses feet of soil /like flowering flowers’ and without being choral and obvious, he desires to seek joys of life in the lap of nature. He feels the pleasures streams, lakes, rain and moon provide and then, amidst darkness he visualizes ‘lightness of truths.’ For him:
Its like taking, helping, hugging,
Lighting hopes and despairs,
Bonds of love become forests of lovers
Spreading vistas of vigor & vitality
In thy company
My cloud of feelings rain into
Rainbow of multi –dimensions. 74
He is simple, straight and down to earth. He observes everything around and experiences the thrills and excitement of hidden meaning, consolidates feelings of each moment strongly and deliberates on each tiny particle of emotional upsurge when alone. If he goes back to past, it is to find relevance of present so that he continues journey to future unknown and unseen and here, the poet indulges in self-created delight, and without a hint rouses a reader to follow and so he unveils each moment of meaning and purpose. Going through Prasad’s lyrics creates varied responses as meanings butt in, and he loves rejoicing in other regions of thoughts. He is modernistic and becomes ruthlessly individualistic and then, suddenly one is led to areas that glorify humanism and universality where lands of intellectual-inquires expand eliminating boundaries of limitations and thus, candidly serve mankind.