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|Seclusion, the Inherent Design: Poetry of Dr. Nandini Sahu|
|by Prof. Suresh Nath|
A poet who is unlikeably liked by everyone, one among the incredible contemporary Indian English poets, Nandini Sahu is a promising voice of high reputation in the post-modern Indian literature. The present paper ventures to identify the inherent design in the poetry of Nandini Sahu trying to justify her seclusion, loneliness, expounding her potential voice as an ambassador of femininity.
A child of freedom, she has insisted for freedom of humanity in the common man’s idiom. Primarily a nature poet, her literary output lays bare her taste of simplicity and colloquialism. Loneliness is something that dissuades the modern man which is felt in modern literature in the form of identity crisis. The problem of belongingness speaks aloud in the poetry of Nandini Sahu as a response to it. Solitude implies segregation from the society and deliberation on the self, on the other hand it also implies rejection by the society and the subsequent seclusion.
Nandini Sahu voices the anguish of the modern man in her poems in the form of the repulsion from the outer world. Her poetry is a prolonged meditation, culminating in internal exploration and purgation. In some of the lines in her poetry we find a note of hesitation. There is a multi-colored and multi-dimensional vision in the poetry of Nandini Sahu. She has brought out two collection of her poems, The Other Voice and The Silence. And several of her poems have been published in books, journals, magazines in the country and abroad. Her uniqueness in composing poems is not only based on varied themes like the romantic, socio-conscious, ironical poems, the profuse pain and despair experienced by her, but also her lines are flooded with the beauty of life, her poems are a feast to the heart and the soul. For her, the beauty of a poem lies in the use of novel figures of speech, use of idioms, images, metaphors and similes along with a realization of the veracity of life.
It is the metaphysical thought expressed after seeing a reason, achieving reality and its communication which makes her poetry distinctly different from other poets.
In the Preface to her second collection of poems, she writes,
She carries herself with a tradition and raises her level of deliberation and action, emotions and content, language and expressions to a higher degree to enchant the readers by flouting new and fresh ground that makes the reader relish her poems.
In some of her poems her personae pines for rationality and compassion to achieve bliss. With most beautiful poems to her credit and scintillating ideas therein besides her endeavour to achieve bliss, she has certainly achieved a niche for herself in the contemporary Indian English poetry.
The poetic output of Nandini Sahu is enormous and covers a wide range of themes. Death as a theme is also given a prominent place in her poetry. Apart from the other phenomenon of the world, death has also attracted her attention. On the one hand, death is an end of life, on the other hand it is a commencement of a new life. Her poems show her inner strength and firm determination, death is a reliever for her, it is a metaphor for renovation. She uses poetic idioms and expressions with a certain toughness which seems to be the trademark in her poetry. Though the theme of most of her poems are common with the attribute towards human psychology and the mystery of the universe, her language is erudite and ironic. Hers are the poems of the common man in an uncommon tongue:
With the passing time the signs of maturity and adulthood can be observed in her poems with a strong inclination towards time as a redeemer.
There is a local experience hidden inside the global, the poems are but ripples in the calm consciousness of the poet. Most often it is the circumstantial compulsions that compel a sensitive soul of the poet to commit to the paper her restive thoughts and emotions. Her descriptive and reflective poems appeal to our senses, some poems rib our mind and sensitize our perception to the evils prevailing around us. She attempts to take up the moral responsibility of purgating the society of all social tribulations:
The rites and rituals of India are transcribed in her own lingua franca giving the taste and color of Indian life. Another prominent feature of her poetry is her contemporary consciousness of the social evils and her indisputable reflection. She is in favor of cultivating poetry in herself which is also a kind of fight against the social evils, dehumanizing forces, poverty, violence, illiteracy, breaking bonds of fraternity corruption and degradation.
The modes that follow from an Indian pen is a English with Indian fragrance, myth and imagery. In the choice of subject, in the texture of thought and the play of sentiment in the organization of the material in terms of form and in creative use of language, she uses superb imagination.
About her second collection of poems, The Silence, she writes,
She uses a new voice in her lines projecting the indigenous values more forcefully and enthusiastically than her contemporaries. She is committed to her mission through her pen to wake the slipping souls. She is a messenger of Indian culture which is rooted in love and peace. She has a strong social consciousness which she expresses in her poems like ‘Giving them a Smile’ (For Tsunami Affected People):
The poet wishes to give the message of true love which is spiritual in nature. Her agony and frustration on the contemporary social reality comes out vividly in several poems. But at the end of the day, optimism is her life blood. Poems dance on the tongue of her pen whenever her world turns upside down. In a poem ‘Dialogue with a Fistful of Time’, she writes about the futility of war and non-violence. Whenever disaster strikes, whenever she is misunderstood, regardless of its scale or nature she breathes a sigh of relief by giving birth to a poem:
Nandini Sahu is treated as one among the remarkable post-modern Indian English women poets. Silence is her strongest weapon, seclusion is an inherent design and an interior monologue in her poetry. She has be interested in the problems of the society faced especially by women, has always tried to create a women centered community, in which women can express their feelings. Her poetry is a powerful commitment to the alteration of lived experience and an aesthetic familiarity. Her poetry challenges the promises the patriarchal discourse gives women through her poem enduring solipsism:
She has focused primarily on her struggle to bring her personal conflicts in consciousness. Gradually her emphasis has shifted to the ways in which the world treats women at large:
She is evenly eloquent about the male chauvinism in the Indian society and the subjugation of women. The poet asks the mythical Draupadi to confess and pour her heart out, to be a voice designed for truth and freedom of women:
She is a conscience keeper of the time and clime which is one among her most important helm of affairs. She has an independent feminine voice with a bold assertion of the self, with remarkable simplicity and directness. Nandini Sahu shows ironically how a woman enjoys life by role playing. Her needs are given no importance, she lives in a society that trivializes her contributions. She grieves over the difficulties encountered by a daughter-in-law working in the kitchen, a professional sandwiched between the household and career, a typical Indian wife whose needs – physical and metaphysical – are hardly understood. For her the only pride of a woman lies in motherhood (Lines for my son). Seclusion is the dominating motif in most of her poems as she loves to recede when misunderstood or ignored. This romantic escapism has given birth to a mature poet in her at a tender age:
In intellectual woman, Nandini Sahu mourns that all energies and abilities a woman has in life get wasted by male domination; female energy turns into guilt, anxiety and hysteria due to the lack of its utilization. So she voices the innermost sprit of every woman in her poems, strives to be the spokes person for the common woman and objects to the facts that the identity of a woman. In most of her poems Nandini Sahu looks forward to the emergence of a new woman who will be in complete command of her energy and power, who can come out of her barricade and confront turmoil directly and optimistically.
A chronological study of Nandini Sahu’s poems shows her discovery of a female beyond the patriarchal definition of women and sprouting consciousness of the modern woman. She writes in the Preface of The Other Voice,
For her the modern civilization needs powerful women in order to survive and unmask the other sex:
Nandini Sahu’s poetry serves as a prophetic function by articulating Indian myth and the ideals of the feminist struggle. In a love poem she writes:
By drawing parallels between women today and their counterparts and by envisioning the women of the future, who will emerge from the feminist struggle, Nandini Sahu’s poetry celebrates women’s strength and possibilities.
Nandini Sahu’s poems are both playful and serious. The recurrent imagery she uses arrange the poems most artfully to reflect the themes of both the inner and the outer worlds. ‘A Garmented Metaphor’ is a beautiful poem about the life of a human being and the irony one has to face in the pangs of time:
She writes cluster of poems about human psychology:
We shed tears on many occasions, the poet loves to celebrate all those moments of happiness and sorrow:
She looks at the universe objectively, her highly subjective and personal poems are also the reflection of the objective observation of the universe that she has developed in due course. At their best her poems are stylist, wise and compassionate. Often her final couplets or single lines stand away from the main poem, sometimes with deliberate bathos and sometimes with a sharper sting. It may be also notable that she does not seek after obvious Indian topics, rather there is an easy take-for-granted attitude in her poems regarding her selection of themes. But she is comfortable with any topic she takes up, the marked quality about her poems is elegance and a pained honesty. It seems for her writing poetry is an exciting challenge. Her poetry has that mercurial quality of being tantalizing, elusive, frustrating and fascinating. Some of her poems about man-woman relationship have the typical attraction – repulsion syndrome, her love poems are most mysterious, feminist and domesticated:
She uses the English language with competence and sensibility. Her philosophic remuneration is a mixture of the concrete and the abstract. As a matter of fact her pre occupations with the micro world slowly transforms into a macro world where human sorrow and suffering concern her the most and she hails humanity to take a plunge to a higher world which is above the meanness of the materialistic world:
The ascetic and the intensity of these lines are powerful. Desire, longing, anguish, sorrow, yearning for the out of reach, unattainable and the mystical aura are the cherished qualities of her lines. Her brush strokes milled touches on all these as her mood keeps swinging form time to time. She brilliantly merges experiment and experience, she is slowly reaching a turning point in her poetic journey of self discovery and discovery of the world. Nandini Sahu has been hailed as a cosmopolitan voice; her poetry is intellectually as well as technically sound:
In her lines there is always the possibility of alternative interpretations of language and culture. There is also an inclination towards the interweaving of eastern and western elements in her poetry, creating a kaleidoscope of images that can be defined as ‘dreamlike’. There is touch of magic realism in the poetic imagination she uses. Her familial past plays a major role is addind the sensibility of a poet in her, a few of her poems also reveal the same.
In the Preface to her collection of poems The Silence she writes, :
Some of her poems speak about her familial background, like:
Nandini Sahu’s poetry is different in every aspect – in content, structure, style and intention. Her metaphorical and reader’s-delight technique of using representational and sensual imagery, the structural features of repeating the first line as the last line, the use of onomatopoeia, alliteration and assonance – all blend into the creation of a wonderful atmosphere in her poems. About writing poetry, she writes:
Her experimentation with language merging with the truth of her heart makes the poems quite appealing. She is a promising poet of high caliber, a voice to delight and enlighten our progeny.
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