Book Reviews

Vibrant Poetic Voice: Silent Days

Silent Days, Jaydeep Sarangi,, Allahabad, Pp 68, Rs.200/-, ISBN 978-81-8253-396-7  

Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi’s “Silent Days”, a book of 50 short lyrical poems, in free verse, highly speaks volume of his poetic sense and sensibility and his keen observation of life. Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi, a well-known bilingual poet, writer, academic, editor and translator, has taken up simple themes from day to day activities and given to them a literary height with a magical wand of his poetic skills. The anthology in question is an exotic expression of poet’s internalized experience of the life he spent in his native land and different parts of the country and the world. The themes of love and respect for cultures, faiths, dreams, longings, bonding, joys and sorrow, desires and wishes, nostalgia, sense of alienation, waning of literary taste, empathy, pathos, friendship, beauty, love, gain and loss, side effects of urbanism, etc run through his poems.

With “From Dulong To Beas: Flow of the Soul” and “ Silent Days”, the two poetic masterpieces and poetic collages of touching poems, Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi has emerged as one the greatest bilingual poets of the contemporary time, who has given a new orientation to poem writings in India with his metropolitan outlook and his heart rooted in the countryside. To his credit, he has many other literary outputs of great worth as well. What he finds observes and feels around him in different milieus, finds an excellent expression in his writings. He has very closely observed the country and city life and has given an outpouring vent to volleys of thoughts, perspectives and perceptions, hitherto formed. In the Acknowledgement of the anthology, Dr. Sarangi has himself revealed that his “tradition and roots in rural Bengal is the sap of energy.” He further mentions that his poetic passion has built up on his association ‘with small things” and, that is what makes his poetry bigger with all the grandeurs.

The most striking beauty of these self-contained poems is the brilliant use of a very simple and lucid language. The poet, without any of his ornamental decorations and abstruse thoughts, has simply put in to communicate the essence of thoughts and ideas, very common with the common people, dipped in spontaneous emotions flowing from the depth of his heart. Very few poets on contemporary literary horizon have ever used such a simplistic language, quite comprehensible to even the common readers. Highlighting the poetic beauty of his language, Lakshmi Kannan, in the forward to the book, has rightly written:

“Jaydeep Sarangi’s poems touch you with a simplicity that is invaluable in any writer, be he a poet, novelist or a short story writer. For it is important that a poem should communicate clearly before it sets out to work on our   consciousness  the way poems do.”

A patient and comprehensive reading of the poems contained in the present anthology brings out many moods of the poet - a paradigm shift and his poetic response to different situations in his life, be it in his native place, metros- Kolkata, Mumbai etc, abroad, on beaches or on roads or in the playground. He has done justice to the recording of his mood swings very honestly.

In the very first poem “Stop Here, Please” Dr. Sarangi makes a striking differentiation between an urban life and a rural life and categorically states that we are “ slave in our urban” and that the people living in metros are so numbed that they “ poison” the sweet and innocent people of the countryside. The metro life dwellers are so ‘cold’ and “untimely hot”- the malaise of their hectic life style. He seems to be siding with innocent people of the countryside.

He is conscious of the hectic activities of modern life jostling between home and work station, and the cumbersome journey amid traffic snarl -fleet of autos, cars etc carrying the exhausted body with nostalgic mind doesn’t let him even pick up the calls nor does he call back. That’s why he accepts honestly in “Missed Calls”.    
It is not always possible to call back
             Promises hide their faces
             Amidst crowds of everyday duties”.

However, he never forgets the ‘aroma of chanachur” and “puffed rice”.

Dr. Sarangi seems to be a voracious reader in quest of the truth. That is why in “My Dreams” he expresses his longing for fathoming the depth of literary and poetic world to satisfy his inner quest :

           " My hungry heart can swallow
           The whole world
           Of poems and rhyms”.

This poem also throws light on his cooperative attitude as well, as he wants the youths of India to take to poetic path with “indigenous ink”. The ideas of nationalism are well reflected here.

In spite of his broader outlook on globalization it is very nice of him that  he wants to be rooted in his soil. His profound love and respect for his native land and language, and sympathy for the people finds a vivid description in the poem “Bilingual Bard” :

             “ I speak for my soil
                My people in distress
                My ancestral affinity with a tradition.”

He also pays his gratitude to his native soil in the poem “ A Rose Is a Rose”:

              “Only my native within sinks
                As the rosary of pains
                Register what I am made of”.

He very honestly accepts and reveals that “English is my sword, my refuge" and  “Bengali is the language of my soul”.

Dr. Sarangi has felt that ‘chatting’ followed by cordial “mingling” forms a strong loving bond, and in his case, it has culminated in the feelings of love which find a candid expression in his poem “Bonding”:

            " Poems of easy bonding seek expression,
             Feelings of sheer love!”

Literary degradation in the people living in metro- urban life in the ‘land of commerce”-Mumbai  pains him to such an extent that he cries out in “The Chessmaster And His Moves”:

             “ Here no one reads fiction
                Poetry dies hard
                In a flat metro tunnel”. 

From the very first poem “Stop Here, Please” which deals with the cold attitude of town-dwellers living in poisonous scenario of urban life, to the concluding poem “Going To Holy Place” the overall emotional and spiritual journey of Sarangi as a man is undertaken with sense of acceptance in the beginning and with sense of surrender to God is highly remarkable.  The quintessence of his poetic journey along with the reflection of his religious temperament is pervasive throughout his poems.

Some of the poems are religious and spiritual pigments of Dr. Sarangi, who very devotedly sanctifies his inner self through his poetic offering to different gods and goddesses such as Lord Shiva and Lakshmi. While the first poem is suffused with his indignation and frustration of the metro life, concluding one is testament to his faith and belief in God as strong as “metals and bricks” with peace of mind;

            “Mind as focused as an arrow
              My faith enlivens metals and bricks”


              “ My mind takes an inward journey
                 To be part of everything.”

Sometimes he becomes philosophical in midst of struggles of life, and makes great lines such as “Everything is in translation / Of an image or an action.” (The Act of Writing”)

In the final analysis, it must be proclaimed with aplomb that Dr. Sarangi’s “Silent Days”, being a poetic gem with strings of beautiful and though provoking poems, is replete with socio-economic consciousness, social realism, and hard realities of life, homesickness and above all, his poetic outburst or cries. Marked by simplicity and brevity of expression and spontaneous flow of thoughts, it is “home-bound” to be a significant and valuable contribution to Contemporary Indian English Poetry, as his“Unspoken fossilized  feelings / Seek freedom in easy poems” (The Torch) is what has culminated in his “Silent Days” where vibrant poetic voice of  Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi speaks a language of heart to his mind in his seer solitude.


More by :  Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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