Book Reviews

Rashmi Jain's Kaleidoscopic Visions

Kaleidoscopic Visions by Rashmi Jain. Publisher: Author Press, 2015
Pages : 44 Pages. ISBN:978-81-7273-987-4. Price Rs. 195

Kaleidoscopic Visions: Looking into The World Through a Woman's  Eyes

Kaleidoscopic Visions is a collection of 31 innocent and beautiful poems by Rashmi Jain who is a Research Scholar in Department of English and MEL, University of Allahabad. She is an emerging and promising poetess, and, of course, has the potential to be one of the strongest feminine voices of the time. With this book of poems, she has made a bold, brave and brilliant beginning of her poetic writings. In this debut anthology she explores, the kaleidoscopic experience of life. Memories, childhood, mother, soul, love, nature, role of woman, dreams and hope, dowry, life and God, socialism and humanism etc are the major themes of her poetry. It showcases “weird and varied moods of life” with “amalgam of ideas and expressions”.

Rashmi Jain’s poetry is poetry of life, of joy, and celebration. In the very first poem “Memories’, she expresses her celebration of life “With lots of memories”. She gives a glimpse of life with its fleeting passage of time. Her craving for the beautiful life is well reflected in the following lines-

Turning over the pages,
I found the glimpse of life
A life which is spent and gone,
A life I crave for and mourn
A life that is colourful in its essence, efflorescence.

“Childhood” is another beautiful poem expressing her exultation over the lovely and lively celebration beautiful, precious moments of live as well captured during her childhood days with all the pranks and naughty acts, fighting with siblings, for some candies etc. She opines that the days so spent are unforgettable as they have the innocence of childhood that paves way for the vitality of youth and in times of old age they revitalize our life and enjoy much and more. She unravels the undying idea of enjoying each and every moment of life within the limits of time available with us-

Unforgettable precious moments of life, rapidly flies
Capture them somewhere in the corner of heart
Unlock them in lonely hours
To relive it, and
Revitalize life once again. (Childhood)

Rashmi Jain is a poet of keen and minute observation. She takes into account even the small things of life, in and around.  There is a penetrating observation of life with her romantic perspective on love . She talks about soul and mate and their unification for inner journey for bring about a sense of complete being in the poem “Soulmate” :

Soul shows purity and mate gives direction to life
Soulmate together makes one finite, to survive in
its own lifestyle

Since Rashmi Jain is a woman, she is well aware of the plight of woman in male-dominated society. With some social concerns veering around woman, she sees to it that woman’s condition improves. Though woman is believed to be a source of joy, comfort and sustenance, yet the poetic heart of the poet is aggrieved at the sad plight of woman and her status in society. Her feminine sensibility is at its best when she gives a poignant portrayal of woman in distress. “Changing Role of Women” presents poignant and deplorable condition of woman. Despite ‘Designed as semi divine/Worhipped as Mandakini, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali/ But her position is still deplorable off papers, Crushed and crippled as tissue papers “

Calling her the second sex just shows the subaltern attitude
No one can deny that she is Almighty’s masterpiece.
His masterpiece! with unique qualities.
It’s true! It’s true! It’s damn true that women role is
changing through centuries.
It’s changing…

She is also a poetess off reactionary and revolutionary zeal. As a poet of revolt and revolutions, she expresses her socio-political concerns in her poems. She accord due importance to the concepts of ‘catharsis’ and ‘purgation’, being the crux of thoughts on literary analysis. She arrests our attention:

But inspires the collective unconscious
It’s a purgatory fire, with
Catharsis as its true production
Revolutions brings regeneration
It might be social, political or mythical
Largely depends on integration
It leads to new formulations,
amidst the turbulent evocations. (Revolutions)

Hers is poetry of hope and determination, of sanguine attitude to human life. She sparks and splints a hope of light in the darkness of despair and disappointment in the frustrated heart of humanity. Her positive words mesmerize the readers and exhort them to resort to the right and virtuous path of life, despite all the inevitable hurdles human life is faced with. “Paths to Follow” is one such an inspiring and motivation poem -

Yet I am ready to walk on the path of mankind
Twilight doesn’t matter,
As I know there is always a hope of light

She further reiterates the same theme in her poem “Hope” that hope does wonder in bringing about the realization of true self. The following lines are the outcome of her profound brooding over the positivity of hope and its significance-

The adventurist attitude
A unique blend of emotions, visions, and reflections
Exists in the inner temple of human body
Feel and it retrieves
Deep in heart it always resides, like a pearl
Pure, colourless yet,
Colourful and bright.
Illuminous, extraordinary,
A faith in god
A note of confidence
A blessing in disguise
Hope: a magical expression.

One of the most distinguished features of Rashmi Jain’s poetry is the realistic depiction of social and familial reality of contemporary times. There is a note of bitterness in her description. She is socially alive to the myriads of social issues. She touches upon some of them in her poetry. Dowry is one such a grave issue with its diabolical repercussion on a woman’s life. This monstrous dowry system has taken our society under its strong grip and hold. It is a social stigma for the Indian society. The verbal description of the victimized bride is poignant, heart-rending and nerve-shattering. In “Say ‘No’ to Dowry” she laments-

Marriages are made in heaven
So why this heaven turned to hell?
The brides hopes are dumped into well
Her dreams are broken and shattered.

Hence, she as a poet of exhortation with a strong message urges all of us-

Listen! To the inner voice
Say no to dowry.
Just imagine a future without girls,
How the generations will survive without her
She is the real future
The true source of life-spring.

Ecological concerns of the poet also find beautiful expression in her poetry. One such poem on nature is “Nature” where she speaks at length for the preservation of trees and all that. As she is of poetic sensibility, she is saddened to see the exploitation of nature. Like Romantic poets, she also believes that nature sustains and maintains mankind and humanity. Both of them have inseparable rapport with each other. She highlights the dual aspects of nature- constructive and destructive forces:

Beware! Beware! There is still time to be aware
Support nature to survive
And in return it provides aid to humanity,
At every step of life
So, listen! to the call of
Nature! Nature! Nature! (Nature)

Some of her poems contain her metaphysical broodings and philosophical speculations over life, death, mysteries and eternal concept of Time. She is of the view that time teaches us all the eternal lessons of human life in due course. Life is full of surprises and uncertainties, several hidden topsy-turvy, bouncy and wavy waves and tides of troubles. However, what man is supposed to do is keep marching on and on with smiling face and courage in heart. Her idealism lies in this very idea as reflected in her poem “O Life! O Life!”

Time the master key of life
Unfolds all the mysteries of life.
O Life! Don’t be weird
O Life! Be an asset and bring some cheer.

She holds her own philosophy of life. She believes in the continuous flow of time and life with confidence and courage “ a supreme eye is always following and keeping vigilance”;

Life is to travel on
Continuous and unending
Full of mazes, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.
Puzzles remained unsolved,
Mysterious mazes and unending path;
Life is to move on, to keep up the pace
Life is a race which is hard to trace
Life unfolds the mysteries, evolutions and revolutions.
(Life is to Travel on…)

The same theme of life is also carried forward in yet another poem “Whenever”-

Life is full of music, vision and contradictions
Still the serenity of love, life and lust always lingers
Witness the softness of life
With an attitude full of positive vibes
Enduring, emancipating and energetic.

Rashmi Jain’s poetry also presents a world of dreams with varied hues and scintillating sparkles. Her perception and conception, and perspectives on dreams is awesome. “Dreams” is a fantastic articulation of the poet’s ideas about dreams that colour different poetic moods-

Dreams are full of colours
Half true and half manipulation
Dreams the innate wisdom
Beliefs, visions and re-visions
Dreams are like flying kites
Which drives one to the unexplored territories
To explore, and
Turn dreams into reality. (Dreams)

“Butterfly” is poetry of metaphor that’s exhibits the play of free will. She compares a girl with this beautiful creature and makes contrasts in terms of freedom enjoyed. In the case of women or girls, freedom is confined and limited. She calls for total freedom for girls as the butterfly enjoys-

Don’t kill a life, let her survive
The world is beautiful,
Let her fly.
The vibrant colours she scatters around,
The aroma of happiness their presence fills in the ambiance
O butterfly! O butterfly!
Wherever you go,
Let me assist you to the world you fly

She writes ‘A Letter to God” requesting Him to take avatar and redeem life, safeguard humanity and dispel darkness from the world. Global vision of peace, fraternity, prosperity is well reflected in this apt poem. She highlights-

The omnipotent force,
The creator, preserver and the destroyer of the universe
The trinity,
Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and
Lakshmi, Kali, Saraswati
Goddess of wealth, death and wisdom.

As a poet of love,  Rashmi Jain wonderfully touches upon multifaceted aspects of love. Love is tender, intense and intimate feeling of human life. It makes life enjoyable, pleasurable and humane and intensifies the longing to cherish more and more- the love-filled moments of life. To the poet, love is; transcendental’, ‘an emotion of delight ‘’’an infatuation’, ‘a magical enchantment’, ‘ a flame of passion’, ‘yearning’ , ‘ deed of worship”. In fact, it is encompassing everything soft and tender. Love is a comprehensive word which means many things to many but for her-

True love is an eternal love
With the spiritual self or the universal self.

Love beautifies life and life gets its beauty from love and both form a beautiful and soothing realm for soul to rest on with joy and peace. Her concept of beauty reminds one of Keatsian concept of beauty :

The world is endowed with magnificence of beauty
Old age has beauty of experience.

Rashmi Jain is also a poet of humanism and humanity. There is a preponderance of humanistic sense in her poems. Her humanistic approach to life is quite remarkable. It is this characteristics of her poetry that her creativity wears a global and cosmopolitan vision- her central poetic concern. Humanity forms a greater theme in her poetry. Topical and contemporary issues find an excellent articulation in her poems calling for global peace and love. She is saddened to see the brutalities of fanaticism, brutal killings of the innocent in the global strife, in the name of caste, creed and sects, the ego clashes among people. Hence, she calls upon to inculcate the human values for safeguarding humanity and the feeling of brotherhood all over the world. She questions-

Why people fight every time
Sometimes on name of religion, custom
Sometimes the cause is ego and pride
Humanity is the greatest need of time.

Her poetry is a beautiful portrayal of mother who is an apostle of humanity and the primordial seed of creation. She sings glory of mother in her poem called ”Mother”. She calls her “Beautiful, bounteous and divine/ God’s grace to mankind/ The originator of life,/ Who nourishes and nurtures humankind”. To the poet, mother is “The embodiment of love,/ The symbol of sacrifice,/ The fountain of inspiration”. Her subjectivity is well reflected in the wonderful lines of the said poem. She expresses her indebtedness to her mother for what she has done to her. However, she is scared and very much apprehensive-

But I wonder and fear the future without mothers,
As increasing number of female feticide scare me. (Mother)

Rashmi Jain’s poetry is ‘soft flowing emotions’,’ Imaginative or realistic’,’ Sketched, framed and presented infront of the world’. Her poems are both aspects of meanings- connotations and denotations. They embody her ‘inner feeling and thoughts’,’ Like pearl in an oyster shell,’ ‘Collected and stringed together like/A necklace.’ She reveals the true purport of poetry-

Poetry is like rain
Comes spontaneously and uninterrupted,
full of emotions and imagination.
Poetry gives soothing effect
to heart and soul.
Poetry a gift in disguise
To pour out and quench one’s desire. (Poetry)

Thematically, the book is quite appealing to the readers. The book was supposed to undergo a serious proof-reading. Grammatical errors such as “When the mother lull me lullabies’ (page 13), Soulmate are the abiding force of one’s life/ Making one feel complete of its kind (14), Shadows that speedens and flickers (page 15), The winds blows and revolts/ The waves rolls and revolts (17) The winds blows and revolt/ The waves rolls and revolt (page 18) The shadows of life//The mysteries of skies/Makes me aware why do I survive (19), It doesn’t leaves one alone (20), Dark Lady do exist (21) could have been averted and  avoided. The proper pruning, linguistically semantically and stylistically, could have been done for proper presentation of poetic thoughts and vision, for proper clarity of thoughts and expressions.

In view of the foregoing discussion and analysis, we see that Rashmi Jain’s Kaleidoscopic Visions deals with a rich variety of themes as resorted to in her poems, in varying shades of intensity. All her poems are honest, innocent, candid and sincere expression, though weighty with thoughts, of her childlike heart. The best part of her poetry is that her poems are far away from romantic fantasies, and extravagance of sentiments. They are simple and spontaneous and not only convey the message to embrace love and life, accord due respect and honor to woman and humanity but also call upon us to contribute to growth of global peace, amenity and fraternity. The diction and clarity, syntactic structure of poetry, images and metaphors add more beauty to the poetic vision of Rashmi Jain, a beautiful poetess.

(An abridged version of this review was published in Asian Signature, Third Volume, 2016)


More by :  Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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