Sunny Rain-n-Snow by U Atreya Sarma
Patridge India, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4828-6854-8. E book 978-1-4828-6853-1. Pp. 140
Sunny Rain-n-Snow is the maiden collection of poems by the eminent writer U Atreya Sarma containing sixty three poems classified in twelve categories, obviously a thematic categorization. These poems are written over a period of time (from the year 2009 to 2014). Below each poem date of its creation is marked.
The author has published about 700 pieces of writing – poetry, book reviews, translations, articles, editorials, forewords, etc. He is a core editor of museindia.com and a freelancer for two decades. He has also been presenting contemporary poets in The Hans India (Sunday edition). Going through the author’s bio one can understand that he lives and breathes literature.
As for the themes and tone in this compendium of poems, I quote Dr. Sunil Sharma, who has written foreword for this book: “He can be comic, satiric, gloomy, edgy and philosophical in his musings, altering moods and tunes as per the requirements. An imagination literary; narrative styles variegated; an itinerant poesy and command over English – well, well, the alchemy is superb; so is the result!”, which I endorse in full.
Shelly said “Poetry should come to the heart of the poet as natural as leaves to the plants.” If this is true, Atreya Sarma is an acclaimed poet. It is a fact that no miracle can create a poet, except hard labour and every oeuvre eats up lot of efforts. The meticulous presentation, perfection, elegance, deeper connotations at places, intelligent word power and above all the experimental forms in verses prove this beyond doubt.
Four poems in the very first segment Femina. as the title suggests, deal with women related issues. Maybe being a feminist at the core of mind, the poems in this section make special cord with me. The minimum expectations of a housewife are gently put forth in the first poem:
Once in three months, give me a day off;
And cook and serve me delicious home-made food
With your handsome hands.
Finally, treat ne as your partner
Which I really am. Care for me
The way you care for yourself. (p.3)
The second poem “Crush and finish it!” is on a real incident of attempting to sacrifice a four day old infant by the unmarried minor girl’s father thinking that it will bestow them with occult powers and the poet pours out his heart thus;
“Can a lotus be damned
For the slush it springs from!” (p.4)
Poem titled “WWW: Woman’s World of Woes”, the hurdles in the life of a woman at various stages of her life are sensitively contemplated and exposed by the poet, at the end he reiterates that without them our life would be petrified. The poem ends with a mind stirring query to the entire mankind:
Then why worship distant angels unseen
When we have the woman on this earthly scene? (p.7)
The dialogues in the poem “The Dead Mother Blesses” between the dead mother and her children, who never cared for her will haunt the readers for long even after reading the poem. The poet makes the point clear that neither feeding the priests and others with ceremonial food, nor the extraneous rituals conducted are of any value as long as the dead was not given proper care when alive. The concluding stanza touches readers’ hearts:
The sons felt the touch
Of their dead mother’s hand on them:
“Dear children! Eat your fill;
You are so weary and hungry, you poor things!
If you don’t eat, it pains me; so eat you well;
And I’ll be happy wherever I am.” (p.10)
The second segment ”Facets of Nature” undoubtedly sings nature’s glory. Poem titled “Hills” is a fine example of how in poetry less said is more.
And began blasting them. (p.13)
One can contemplate the irony of a traveler dished up with satire in the poem “Aesthetic to the bathetic” in the following lines. The civic insensibleness of the society and lack of empathy for other road users are perceptively exposed here.
As I was swimming through this real rainy reverie
Jolted was I with a splash of paan spittle over my visage
From the monster of a bus barreling past my right.
And hardly had I sensed it before a reckless auto to my left
Hurtled through a puddle to wash down the scarlet splash.
What a fall from a meridian aesthetic
To a galling mundane nadir so bathetic! (p.14)
“Cloud’s Sibling” is a small poem, that puts a smile on readers’ face envisioning relationships between natural phenomena like clouds, winds, earth, rain, etc.
No longer able to bear her watery babe in
The slow and heavy bellied Cloud is eager
To be delivered of the Rain
But finds herself helpless
In the pitch-dark night.
Then Brother Lightning comes along
And helps her with his dazzling torch
As Ms Wind proffers to be midwife;
And Mrs. Earth, the foster mother,
Spreads out the downy cradle down under. (p.19)
The picturesque description of personal feelings and emotions throws light on Atreya’s poetic process as reflected in the poems in the segment Epiphanies. Poem “Vertigo”, a dramatic monologue, displays the poet’s empathy towards the civil labourers who work under risky conditions in sky-rise buildings and the challenges faced by those dusty and sweated hands. The protagonist who moves into the building sees a gory dream and the floating images the poet creates will make the readers also jolt. The mood is maintained until the end of the poem and then only one can heave a sigh and the poem concludes with a self-revelation.
They build and bond bricks far better
Than I put my words at all together
And much less mean and live them. (p.32)
“The Mermaid” is a memoir on a personal experience of the poet venturing into the wild river-sea confluence on Saurashtra coast and the timely help of a fishing girl and her skiff, a poem so subtle and sensational.
Another poem in this segment “Nocturnal Bliss” talks about the experiences of a late night’s drive after a hectic day’s work, which the poet enjoys to the core being safe and smooth at that point of time, with a feeling of levitation and the poet imagines the road as the interminable tongue lolling out of his car. The reader also feels that he is also traveling with the speaker of the poem. And he wishes…….
There was some eerie frisson
In the mesmerizing spin.
And I just wanted to ride on
Indefinitely, into the endless space. (p.37)
In the segment Americana, the poems on places visited by the author with a few pictures are alluringly descriptive and exhaustive, making the readers tread along and get the real pictures of those places embedded in their minds. Poem “My Swan queen” on a trip to Niagra falls is wonderfully elusive, which made me nostalgic of my own trip to the place with its gorgeous and giggling gurgles cascading in my mind, making the poet’s wish mine too.
As I sight you sail across like a swan queen enchanting
In your sheer grace into the bliss of my heart for you throbbing..
I can’t contain my desire; I can’t wish away my longing
To draw you into my ardent arms with fervor
And lock you up there in love for ever and ever. (p.47)
In the segment ‘Musings on poesy’ none can overlook the beauty of the cute little poem “Cradle of Poesy”.
When flight of fancy
And a worthy wreath of words
Cohabit on a bed of aesthetics,
The labours of their union
Conceive the baby of poesy
If everything goes well
A blooming baby is born
To the swinging delight
Of the cognoscenti. (p.55)
Under ‘Relations & equations’, the glory of friendship is sung, while in ‘Romantic peeps’, it is the love in life that is praised. Poem titled “Human orbits” under ‘Reflectively Yours’ reminds one to be within their own bounds and honour the space in between. The poet is humane in thoughts towards pets and his compassion to the poor souls is reflected in the short poem “Unpaid watchman”.
Throw him a little morsel of food
Just for once, though by chance,
And then shoo him away,
Or stone him to bleed;
Yet he wags his tail in gratitude
And stays a lifelong shadow –
That free unpaid watchman
The simple dog. (p.89)
The poem “A tryst with the terrorist” with its epilogue in double acrostic more than testifies Atreya’s exemplary language skills. If I quote, I have to quote the entire poem and hence I leave the suspense to the readers to explore it first-hand.
The gifted poet employs various forms and methods throughout the book to present his ideas. The impact of age in which one lives and writes influences his/her writings as is the case with this author and is very much revealed in the poem ‘Toast To The Terrorist (TTTT), a dramatic discourse involving people in power and the common people, which brings before the readers the pitiable state of governance in the country and touches mainly the burning issues of terrorism, corruption and the like, specifically in the back-drop of the Mumbai terror attack making the readers experience the pathos and outrage.
Atreya Sarma sympathizes with the people of Nepal which was lashed and slashed by a worst earth quake and the devastation it left behind saddens him. Through the poem “Let’s succor our Nepali brethren” he appeals mankind to do their mite to mitigate the hardships of the people. Personally I can vouch for Atreya’s kind-heartedness as this reminds me of a similar situation sometime back when I appealed to the readers through a poem in Your Space in Muse India for helping the terminally ill destitute cancer patients, to whom I used to contribute regularly, he voluntarily came forward and contributed to the noble cause.
If I didn’t give my humble, honest mite,
I wouldn’t have a right this poem to write (p.103)
The philanthropy of a real caring heart is visible here reflecting his purity of purpose and honesty more than two hundred percent.
Out of six poems in the next segment ‘Tongue-in-cheek’, there is a poem on “Facebook escapades” which is most relevant today, dealing with the over-indulgence of people there revealing too much of personal details, gives a word of caution that ‘walls have ears’ and asks people to;
Come out into the open
To enjoy the healthy breeze;
And feast on the bounties
Of the real face book of the world. (p.114)
Poem “What’s in a name, Ms. Rosie?” with a playful tone is enjoyable to the core with inherent fun. ‘To my birthday baby’, a poem brimming with love is a re-assurance to the life partner, refreshingly beautiful, heartening and endearing with soulful lines:
Now, in time, I’m giving you this lay
Without my bygone wonted delay.
How’s this for a lay in our alcove!
Unto me forge and re-forge your love.. (p.127)
Few Limericks are also included in this eclectic collection, which prove excellent in subtle sense of humor. The poet’s ability to employ imagery and metaphor excite the readers’ imagination and keeps one riveted to the page. In many a poem in this collection, the author's moral underpinnings are smartly woven into the fabric of the poems. I take pride in reviewing this book of poems and recommend it to the poetry lovers, having convinced with Atreya Sarma’s exceptional poetic talent .