Book Reviews

Walking with Stillness

Purabi Bhattacharya, in her riveting, debut poetry collection ‘Call Me’, has deftly interrogated the inner workings of self, conflict and growing nostalgia for home and the world. Sometimes, the thoughts have crammed the pages with whatever happened to wing through her mind at that time. Her poems come more from the heart and end with an amalgamation of the content, rhythm and form.

I was never like this
silent, sombre, sour
You laid me
Twirling your fingers
With tools
And manly feat. (Encrypted)

Her home, the hills of Shillong, keeps coming back, connecting her past in all its pureness and a sense of alienation from the birthplace, But the power of the homeland inspires a feeling of wonder, delight while recurring a natural sense of awe, piling up like leaves in a remote corner of her soul. The place has its own magic and the presence of nostalgic moments is all pervasive in this collection.

She questions herself. Can we really know each other? how much is hidden”? how much revealed? Can we create, should we destroy? The poet makes her best efforts to answer all. But the questioning mind conceals a further, more unsettling set of memories.

In this startling enigmatic reading, one can feel the essence in its purest form.

Tonight again, I shall dream of my home
Winter has just set in and colourful twiggy trees
Scout the streets
Shilling peak will have its vacant lot filled (‘Loving Times- Home-V)
of the warmth knitting...
the yearns, cuddling up
in the nest
far, northeast (Homeward-Home-I)

Purabi’s delicate and unforced poems respond in an almost colloquial and certainly informal manner to her elevated yearning:

I am plush now with just a pair of blank eyes...
No pain, no bond, no waving,
Blink and enter
Into the next page. (next page)

In the above four lines the intensity comes from the re-focusing the issue on the next page

Her poetry is populated by nostalgic motifs ( home) and so it reads like a world resides within,

But then, you and I know now
We can never be them (Silence- Home-III)

The poet admits the initial struggle ‘the gestation period has been long, and not smooth always. The route meanders through its own idiosyncrasies. It adds colours, wipes a few’.

I am walking, with stillness
held close to the place where it sounds most (I am)

In her foreward Tamsula A.O has rightly pointed out ‘The striking in these poems is the note of sincerity and firmness with which the sentiments and feelings are expressed’. She also added ‘in some of the poems there is a blurring of images which indicates a coalescence of the past with the present, which adds to the tension’.

The poet draws heavily on dreams and miseries like stretched targets in life in her poems, that often left vibrating with emotional chords that, once touched, linger a long time in the reader's mind.

We can read through a view finder while the dream is yet to arrive and yet keep our eyes wide open. This is a world of co-existing opposites, of love and wounds. Her poems deal with the inner workings at times.

Music curls up on your lips
Let it have a vice
As our lips cloak (My head rests)

Stirred by the uneasy feeling, the poet feels in a way, the occasional overloaded metaphor disable our sensitivities yet we are swept along in a rich and assured narratives.

You held the tuft of my locks
And hurriedly performed
The funeral rites
Of all the dreams...
After all,

Those were mine...
Not yours. (tuft)

The poet also candid in her observations ‘Having to live between the pieces of past and present, the arid, earthy touch of the place of livelihood offers what I would have missed otherwise. History and politics add sparkle to all that a sensitive eye sees. I am not spared’.

Sometimes the poet brings in all the nuances of a surreal evening. A beautiful poem adds sparkle to this collection,

The evenness every evening bears
lets our hair cascade down the shoulders and below
tangerine colour,
breezes through silken memory lane..(Evenings)

The writing too, is laced with painterly description, giving the readers the impression that we are looking at this world through a sensitive mindscape.

The gold embossed hand stitched with handloom sari cloth woven and deigned cover is indeed a hand-crafted artefact.

My heart’s alcazar...
I had place for love
And you
Fizzled out...(You)

The economy of words is evinced in the poem ‘Woven’, capturing the rhythms of life bit by bit. Somewhere along the way, the overreaching impulse behind the tender soul also seems to have taken a different course. It includes lines that are barely lines – phrases on the edge of silence.

Bit by bit
Layers of me
Scraped through
By the
Of your tender fingers,
You left,
Each thing reminds
You are a master craftsman
While I,
A woven square (Woven)
I bear no daughter
If i do
Will you buy me her laughter, her joy
Of being she?(Deflower)

Reading the collection, one feels like soaking in the beauty of a beautiful landscape yet takes on the radical dimension of the human entanglements with ease and flair. This collection is an essential and delightful read and one must grab this book at the earliest. The cover design is excellent.

Call Me by Purabi Bhattacharya
A Writers Workshop Redbird book
Writers Workshop
162/92 Lake Gardens
Kolkata- 700045
Hard bound limited edition; Price- Rs 150/-
ISBN- 978-93-5045-102-1


More by :  Gopal Lahiri

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Views: 3319      Comments: 1

Comment A very helpful, insightful, empathic review of Purabi's highly sensitive, subliminal and surreal poetry - by another accomplished and sensitive poet, Gopal Lahiri. Congrats to both.

U Atreya Sarma
14-Dec-2015 21:05 PM

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