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Jaydeep Sarangi: ‘Silent Days’
|by U Atreya Sarma|
My sword and my soul...
With the poetic method, raison d’être and testament spelt out so by Jaydeep Sarangi, the reader's foray into this poetry and “home of thoughts” (p 13) facilitates him to place and appreciate the various facets of the locales, icons and symbols presented with a nostalgia that is a mix of wistfulness and hopefulness.
It's heartening that the poet sees himself as a part of the whole in a harmonious spirit. However one can’t help noticing in the works of some others a striking intellectual paradox that is quick to sing paeans to distinct ethnic identities and micro-nationalism but revels in deriding macro-nationalism as jingoism.
The very thoughts about the tribal life and culture and the lungful of the sylvan breeze he takes in energize the poet and reinforce his nostalgic fascination for the tribal traditions and way of life.
Jaydeep’s love of the marginalized is a constant refrain in his poems—
Here he celebrates their new-found expression from their self-awakening after centuries of stifling.
His invocation of history fills across his poems (I’m on Your Side/ We are Connected! / In a Home Away From Home/ Homeless in My Land/ Small Rivers of the Mind/ The Torch/ Cricket Australia). And it goes on—
It will be disconcerting to note that even after 66 years of Independence powered by an egalitarian Constitution and regularly renewed affirmative action that seems to be interminable, we still hear aggressively discordant notes thanks to a socio-political milieu that has not yet wholesomely readjusted itself what with the vested interests across the board obviously bent on re-stratifying the same maligned caste system but under a new and convenient garb – often resulting even in sustained reverse discrimination and virulent condemnation of a major national culture in the name of ‘Brahminical order,’ ever refusing to give any credit it to it. Thus our centrifugal and recrudescent proclivities continue to be rampant with no objective and holistic lesson learned from our earlier societal imbalances plus centuries of alien enslavement. This is my nagging personal angst though at the risk of sounding politically incorrect. At the same time, the poet doesn’t shut out the other facets of life and he certainly expresses himself and makes his observations on some of them. The busy Kolkata metro life with its “crowded bus” compulsions and “Tollygunj auto line” results in a situation where—
In today’s fast-paced globalized world, man has become as mobile as a mobile phone. Like a rolling stone that gathers no moss, the man who is obliged to be on the move for ever – like Jaydeep himself whose family from Orissa had settled in the Dulong valley about 345 years ago - uprooting himself and transplanting him elsewhere, is apt to feel with him like an eternal refugee—
Whether such a refugee takes it as a curse or blessing depends on one's force of character, and the poet says—
The poet has his share of angst for the position of the fair sex in our country which is still delicate and precarious for umpteen reasons. Says he—
The poet who has a poem for his little playful daughter (For Titas) is conscious that she is a part of the same fair and vulnerable sex. So he is apprehensive—
Jaydeep records his tribute and homage to a couple of persons whom he admires. He would like to join the “brave battle” waged by Arjun Dangle, the Dalit writer and activist from Maharashtra, for which “My silent pen becomes my sword” (Homeless in My Land). Likewise, haunted by the “Tiger and Other Poems” written by Niranjan Mohanty (who prematurely died in 2008 when he was just 55 years old) Jaydeep goes into an elegiac mode—
The poet goes into raptures once he is alfresco under the cerulean ceiling—
Jaydeep Sarangi's pantheon of icons includes rivers/rivulets like Ganges, Beas and Dulong, and divinities like Shiva, Parvati, Kanaka Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati; whereas his thematic diversity comprises the game of the willow for “Cricket connects continents” (Cricket Australia) and (Out Swinger); the art and purpose of writing, mysteries of life, and even the graying phase of human life.
In the ‘Mystery of Life’ see how pregnant his observation is —
While speaking of himself as “growing sweetly old,” see how he seals the process with a cute metaphor—
The poems in Silent Days have their sprinkling of gentle, subtle and evocative imagery. Here is an example—
A few poems stand out where they begin or end with a fragmented statement in the nature of an epiphanic flash of observation, message or inference from a self-sensitized and aesthetic mind, where it looks as if seemingly unrelated things are conjoined with a connective that is apparently obscure.
The above lines are also probably indicative of a welcome intellectual heterogeneity in a people increasingly exposed to the academic portals. There are quite a few apothegmatic lines that testify to the artistic touch of the poet's pen—
On the whole, the slim volume of Silent Days with its 50 poems by the ‘Bard on the Banks of Dulong’ offers a pleasant and tranquil reading, even as being socially thought-provoking. Now let's end on a positive note with an apt quote—
(Originally published in the Muse India ejournal, Sep-Oct 2013)
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