Book Reviews

The Unheard I: A Literary Sojourn of a Dentist

Kiriti Sengupta’s "The Unheard I" is an honest, candid and vivid account of the writer’s journalistic experiences, of his conducive exposure to the international poets and writers, the compendium of his deep knowledge of spirituality and Occidental philosophy of Yoga, and the poetic sparks of spirituality. In midst of political and literary commotion of the contemporary world as what we see, feel all around us, “The Unheard I” comes up as a readable piece of rather different kind of genre which is suffused with outstanding poetic-prosaic expressions. It is a literary sojourn of a dentist who remarkably and commendably provides a shift from materialistic motif to the spiritual contemplation. Kiriti Sengupta, professionally a Dental Surgeon from university of North Bengal, is an Indian poet and author who has emerged motivator on the broader horizon of Bengali and Indian English Literature. His “The Unheard I” is a nectar drop in the ocean of hurly burly life of modern times.

With a brilliant Editor's note by Don Martin from the United States, and well encapsulated Forward by Dr hulya yilmaz, a scholarly academician and professor from The Pennsylvania State University, College of the Liberal Arts, U.S.A., not to mention a thought provoking Introduction by the writer himself, the book in question is divided into three parts. Seriously going through all these parts, musing over the contents and reading between the lines, we get to hear the thunderous messages of his ‘Unheard I’. Most importantly, the book is well characterized by the concept of yogic poetry through which Kiriti highlights the perennial glory of this Indian heritage. Although merely a book of 63 pages, it is bound to evolve and unfold the gallery of ideas and philosophy of India – “the spiritual kingdom of the world”.

A serious ToF, the first chapter, is a transparent description of the writer’s interactions with illumined minds of the world such as poets, writers and visual artists. To quote Dr hulya yilmaz, the chapter ‘provides a glimpse of his journalistic experiences and reflections. Here,he expresses his indebtedness to Stephen L. Wilson, the editor, for accepting the submission of his poem. He also pays his indebtedness to Prabir Roy and Ranadeb Das Gupta, ‘a seasoned poet from Calcutta’ apart from sharing his wonderful memories working collectively on the anthology (Twist of Fate) published by Stephen L Wilson, U.S.A.) It was really a proud moment for Kiriti who was involved with "Twist of Fate", an international charitable anthology. Since Kiriti was a freelance journalist, he interviews contributors such as Dr hulya yilmaz, God centred writer Linda Bonney Olien, noted US poet WL Larta (Bill, John Tribble etc and exposed to the literary beauty of poetic hearts, that also refines his poetic sensibility. Being candid and honest to his expression, he confesses at page 30 –‘I really don’t know whether my poetry would ever attain the brilliance”.He candidly accepts- “It was indeed my journey towards more learning and understanding.”

Despite initial hiccups, sustained poetic endeavor with honesty and entrepreneurship is the characteristics of Kiriti as a poet, prior to jumping onto his poetic affluence. He also accepts – “Prior to my association with Twist of Fate I was never exposed to the international editors; there are the talented souls who can simply create magic with their tools of professional attributes”. Another remarkable point he highlights in the chapter is his factual pronouncement –

“A translator, when translates, trans-creates simultaneously because there is no such language which can express the feel of another language totally

Moving over from A Serious ToF to “Yogic poetry: the Indian heritage”, we come across beautiful words , before proceeding to the next-

“Things are changing
So is the plot
Language evolves fast
The time is tout!”

It reflects his profound thoughts and deep understanding of life and the world.

Yogic poetry: the Indian heritage” contains his thoughts on yogic (spiritual) poetry and outstanding descriptions of Kriya Yoga. On the face of it, most of the things explained stand beside the point. However, the renditions of his spiritual poetry add beauty to it, making it quite befitting. ‘The Communion’ talks about Kundalini shakti coiled in all human beings, which needs an awakening. The same mystical longing for activation of inherent power echoes in his original Bengali poem “The Unheard”, beautifully translated into English by Gopal Lahiri, himself a prominent English poet.Kiriti’s “ Red & Blue”, translated by Ranadeb Dasgupta conveys a spiritual message, suggestive of ‘hope and despair’ often playing pranks in our life. He himself makes it clear to us, with reference to vedantic texts- “Joy is not in leaving the sorrows and it lies in absorbing the sorrows rather.’ Kirit as a guide and philosopher suggests ’austere yogic practices’ for ‘salvation’ in his “The Stairs” consisting of seven parts in the light of Ashtanga Yoga, propounded by Patanjali. Composed originally in English, his “The Bridge” highlights his deep insights and personal experiences. At the end of this segment, Kiriti spellbinds us with his outstanding and mesmerizing statement –

Poetry qualifies as a wonderful medium not only to impress the literature lovers, but also God! It artistically conveys our actual elements: desires, prayers, demands and frustrations to the Lord. Spiritual poetry must enjoy a definite recognition which is well deserved”.

The Translator ‘I’’ is the last segment of the book, which aptly brings out the best of the translation skills of Kiriti. Apart from being an author, poet and doctor, he is a competent and skilled translator with a strong hold over the source and target language. To him, translation is “an extremely challenging task which requires strong command over the language, sense of poetic forms of writing, channelizing the though process along with that of the original writer’. Poetic translation provides him with immense satisfaction. This chapter contains the poetic renderings of five poems, originally composed in Bengali, with explanation of certain complex implications. At the end of the book, his “Search” ends in a beautiful spiritual message that God is one with many forms-

Variants as they may appear
Are not actually so
Inseparable: soul and deity,
My beliefs go.”

"The Unheard I" is significantly remarkable in several ways. It not only reflects Kiriti’s “philosophy and endeavors’, but also establishes his recognition as a talented poet and an erudite translator, besides bringing out the spiritual aspect of his life with firm and determined faith in Vedantic philosophy and Yoga, God, spirituality and religion. In view of his “literary translations from Bengali into English” , Dr Hulya Vilmaz has highly spoken of Kiriti and his literary personality and has rightly written in her forward that he “ has been doing merging the different modes of writing, the poetic and the nonfictional, against the backlash of his expertise and memoirs in journalism.” The book, being ‘his first work for an English-speaking audience’, is an outcome of his painstaking efforts he has put in, thanks to his sustained poetic thoughts and gradual inner evolution. Kiriti seems to be hyperactive in expressing his latent potentiality not only as a writer but also as a poet. Even small things find an excellent expression and vivid elucidation in the book. Another beauty of the book lies in carrying to the west the Bengali poetic flavor through the outstanding translation not only by the writer himself but also by his scholarly friends, very rare to be found in this self-centric world.

Chunks of thoughts, well patched up, bits of expressions in parts are well presented as a whole leading to extensive analysis and comprehensibility of the book in totality. Though sometimes comprehensibility goes wayward, yet he succeeds in his beautiful presentation. Initially, I found the book too abstruse to comprehend and communicate the essence, but linking the fragments – chunks of thoughts. I managed to enable my exploring self to go down deeper to bring out the factual motif of the writer. Many things about many things, glorifying himself, his writing, and exposure, interaction with great men of mind of the world though sometimes seem awkward. Nevertheless, when taken together in right perspective, they tend to add beauty and glamour to the book. The language of the book is ‘actually better than common US English’ , simple enough to understand it.

In short, "The Unheard I" is ‘easy and enjoyable to read’, for the writer has tried his best to retain ‘all the original meanings and flavor’ and makes himself heard in the pin drop silence of patient readings by the avid readers with spiritual, contemplative, reflective and literary bent of mind.


More by :  Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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Views: 3672      Comments: 1

Comment I am humbled. Thank you so much, Bhaskar!

Kiriti Sengupta
06-May-2014 03:31 AM

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