Revealing and Concealing 'Eunuch' by Zahira Rahman SignUp
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Revealing and Concealing 'Eunuch'
by Zahira Rahman Bookmark and Share

I never knew serious poetry could be so sensual. The poems in Rizio Yohannan Raj’s collection of poems Eunuch resonate with shocking sensuality, yet they speak not of the trivial flesh but of the entity language pins down as life and the elusive human self that awkwardly lives it. Her poetry is a reminder of how this phenomenon called language that we have invented can be revealing and concealing, appearing magical like the fireflies of our childhood. 

I have talked to Rizio often, but her poetry tells me that I never did. Her hidden depths are those that I discovered in her delightful play with the symbolic. She takes enormous risks with images and thoughts: Take for instance, the lines from 9 August 1945: An Indian Script:

“Today, as we pick the immaculate ones,
a strange fat man crosses our path
with a sinister mushroom in his hand.”

We have heard countless echoes of the ‘fat man’ and the memory has ceased to shock us, but the Indian Script subtly constructs images of mindless violence and stays with us — ominous, black, billowing — never really of the past, always spawning  unawares into the present  on ‘the damp logs’.

There is history,  personal and the political, spread over many of the verses in this collection. October Dreams, 1917: A Flashback suggests real people erased with official written history. 

“We are pitted against uniforms,
skill arms. Our vulnerability alone
can help us reap our fruits.”

The subtle weaving of the Mahatma image into numerous characters from our ancient lores requires rare daring and to present the idea so convincingly, exceptional skill. And she has both:
when you came into our fretful midst with your gospel of survival-
singing hermaphroditic non-violence,
resisting aggression with womanly fasts
. (Eunuch)

In her Family Album, the autobiographical sketches are so vivid and warm that the people she talks about emerge smiling and vibrant.

In the earliest of my recollections,
you grip my hand as we run though the long grass
beyond the cowshed of our old house.
You are two years old, naked and trusting.”


I told her how you have only incurred
reveries and losses for yourself
while paying for my liberation
. (Mother)

She doesn’t lack in a humour either, when she so sensitively talks of the cut chicken in her Sunday Special. A woman of many parts.

benevolent indeed;
done before a shriek could escape
in the face of an imminent terror

As her enlightened readers have pointed out, identity and self are her preoccupations, which make her love poems which she has named Erotica to gleam in the sanctified light of her wisdom. To me who has always found it inhibiting to make public one’s sexuality , this discovery  of a ‘chaste’  language in which  lovemaking sounds and looks as pure as nature’s lush mating seasons, is a gift.

And she has wandered into territories beyond our immediate Universe to delve into our psycho physical being. Skin of the Cyborg is a very complex poem dealing at once with creativity’s problem of expressing the imaginative self in terms of the outside reality and questions of self that rack the modern brain. Where do our thoughts reside? In the realm of mechanical data or within the hidden folds of our bewildering consciousness?  Is the surreal our path to real knowledge? And what is reality? What is it to be a human being? Frightening questions, when artificial intelligence and biomechanical forms are not impossibilities.

Almost a century after Virginia Woolf asked the question we are still clueless. But there are poets among us, like Rizio, who have not ceased to explore. Rizio’s erudition is awesome when she flits from one subject to another and does not leave till she has drunk deep.      

More by :  Zahira Rahman
Views: 2111
Article Comment Congrats........
You have focused the book well. Your review is obviously above the common. But it is extremely disheartening that you have not mentioned the details of its publication. You have left the readers in lurch. Most of them will satisfy themselves simply by reading your review. Although i know that it is published from Authorspress, New Delhi, you should never omit the details of the book assigned for review. Hope, you would not mind.
Dr. Kalpna Rajput
Article Comment Zahira Rahman’s review of Rizio Yohannan Raj’s poetic collection, titled, Eunuch is balanced and well-written. It creates a curiosity in the mind of the reader who wishes to enter the world of Eunuch in order to delve deep into the very depth of serious poetry that is on the verge of sensuality. It is Self that is on the journey for discovering the reality and the truth behind reality. I do not know whether this is the format of Boloji. com or not that neither the detail of the publisher nor of the reviewer is given. The details about the book like publisher, year, pages and price etc. are expected for the benefit of the reader who may be interested in purchasing the book. I searched for this book and its publisher. Its publisher is Authorspress, New Delhi and price Rs 95.00
Well done! Zahira Rahman for writing a good review
Dr. sudhir k arora, M. H. P.G. College, Moradabad.
Article Comment An interesting, thought-provoking and enlightening review of a poetry book. Zahira , you have given a new identity to the psycho-physical self of the eunuch strolling on the social and intellectual plain out of which emerges a new image. Family relations and other objects undeniably pin us down to seek an answer to reality. The reviewer deserves high praise for this serious effort into more serious subject but humble salute to the poet whose canvas covers, paints and presents so much. I would like to know more about both.
However, Zahira dear, you have not mentioned the details of the publication of Rizio's Eunuch. This communication gap is irritating and painful. Still congrats!
Prof. R.K.Bhushan
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