Book Reviews

Fractious Mind : Voice of Love and Humanity

in the Kashmir Valley

Fractious Mind (Collection of Poems)
Poet: Preveiz Ali
Publisher: Global Fraternity of Poets
Publication Year: 2018
ISBN-10: 9383755512. ISBN-13: 978-9383755516

Fractious Mind is the debut collection of seventy six poems by Perveiz Ali, a sensitive poet and philanthropic educationist who has won ‘considerable appreciation not only in his nation, but internationally also’. A vibrant poetic voice from Kashmir, Ali’s poetry touches upon varied themes- from personal to impersonal- thoughtfully wrought with stirring imagery and comprehensible diction. His poems are fractious thoughts swashed out well from the innermost depths of the poet’s complaisant heart, with a lyrical cadence that finally soothes his fractious mind. He is ‘a writer of (my) conscience, sowing minds to cultivate excellence’. He stands ‘to rise with no fear of falling hard’. His poems are indeed ‘deeply clear-sighted introspections’ and reflections on ‘ the daily situations and issues’ he explores in Kashmir. As a sensitive poet, he not only expresses his genuine concerns but also projects in true lights the landscapes, and their beauty, varying moods in the changing scenario, fancies and dreams of love and more importantly voices quest for identity. Tragic circumstances of his motherland are the sanguine and genuine blood coursing through his pen. He seems to soothe the people suffering in the valleys of chaos, heal their wounds, deep within, with his poetic symphony.

On clear examination of his poems of this collection it is evident that his is multidimensional poetry. Love, peace, harmony, terrorism, sorrow, suffering, plight, religiosity, hope against despair- all are exhibited well in proper proportion.

Art and Creativity

Perveiz Ali’s poetry is an expression of his experiences of life. To him, poetic expression is an art. It is well known that a poet has to undergo a series of agonising phases of life. And when the extreme is unbearable, surging tides of feeling and thought take root and flood out with gush. He talks at length about the poetic process and creativity in some of his poems. In the poem “Where do I stand”, he well captures moments of creative pregnancy and shapes them in the following lines:

A discerning spectator am I
With a chisel in my hand
To carve out the blank canvas,
In the tunes of tandem waves
For the tumultuous beings
To read out the unspoken!

Abuse me with the epithet of 'Poet'
For putting the rotten words right!

He is aware of his responsibility and duty for the betterment of his society and its people. In the very first poem ‘Who Am I” he clearly reveals his civic sense and poetic motive –

I am a citizen of my society,
Responsible for doing my best at work,
Yet still foster independent thought,

His poetry is marked with precise perception on the creativity and creation of poetry as an art. In some of the poems, he touches upon the theme of poetic process and underlines its power and significance in view of its cathartic effect.

In “Art of Poetry”, he defines poetry as something that connects, sustains, carries and ferries us – ‘a vehicle that carries emotions sweet or worse’ despite ‘ups and downs through the journey of time’. More importantly, it gives us voice to the gagged and soothes the grieved souls. His “Verses of Life” gives a vivid description of healing power of poetry-

Peerless poets assessing the damage done,
Tears of humanity flowing over the banks,
As they seek to bring relief by colourful verses.
Poetry that heals gaping wounds and deep pain.
In this land where communal law is militarized,
Reality demeans us and leaves us destitute.


Perveiz Ali, more than anything else, is a poet of love. He expresses his love not only for his beloved, mother land but also for the people. Some of his poems deal with love, memories, nostalgia, dreams, longings, yearnings, frustrations in love etc. Donne’s and Arnold’ direct influence on his poetic perception and self can be witnessed in his poem ‘Oh, My Beloved”. With odistic form of expression, he gives a call to his beloved for ushering sort of happiness in his secluded life. Love as theme predominantly visible in each of the lines. Romance and imagination well underlined. He asks his beloved:

Oh, my beloved! Where are you, my dearest?
Love has delegated you as my pain-reliever.
Come and satiate the hunger swelling in me.

“In Forget me not” he wishes to be remembered forever. Love and longing with fond memories, are all well expressed in his poems of love. Some of them have the best of romantic exuberance imaginative precipice of passionate and surging urges and wistful woos. He calls his beloved ‘a reason for drafting a poem’. His “Soulnappers” is a romantic declaration that bespeaks of ‘divine order’. The poet writes :

To let the world know we are best,
Made for each other by divine order.

His “Daily Gift” is beautiful message to the world. Love is an ocean of kindness and compassion. He Love knows no boundary as such. We should love one and all, come what may:

When kindness reigns, all is well,
Love of each other is the tone.
Cheerful joy is spread to all folks,
No matter what religion, creed or colour.

The poet highlights the fact that there should be transparency in love. A heart has to be open to another to see the immensity of warmth in life. In “Naked Love”, he urges his beloved to be true in love:

Would that we could be truly open,
So open that our demons fraternize!
Let them intermingle in naked glory,
Truly and plainly exposed to each other.

Furthermore, he wants no conditions or hidden agenda between two souls to achieve the perfect bond of love:

That is the love we need to achieve,
No secrets, no hidden agendas to us.
Come together, stark naked, to our souls.
Would we? Could we?
An eternity of clear love.

He highlights the power- healing and uplifting- of love in his poem “Love Sailors”. He believes that love can help the lovers withstand all tempests of life provided they are faithful and loyal to each other:

Faithful and dedicated, they man their posts,
Withstanding the worst of the tempest.
Is it possible to intimidate the love sailors,
Whose bread and butter are love?
They weather the storm with strength.
The Love surfaced proves the battle tested and sure.

He holds that sincerity and loyalty is an indispensible part of love. Purity of emotions refines our sensibility to realise the worth of divine love. He time and again emphasises the importance of purity, thus adding divine and moral dimension to the comprehensive concept of love. It is apparent in his beautiful poem “Tenets of Love”:

Seeking the knowledge of love's mysteries?
Be sincere, to be its disciple;
Keep the heart and mind pure;
Foster its blaze like a fire with heat and light.

Highlighting the cardinal touchstone and principles of love, he further reiterates in the same poem:

If you cannot follow that pathway in truth,
You have not embraced love honestly.
Correction in thought and deeds is needed.
A disciple of love is engrossed in its purity.

He perceives in love a divine element that refines and refreshes comforts and delights souls in love. This is the reason why he gives a metaphysical twist to the definition of love and validates his inclusive perspective on this most delicate form of emotion. In some of his poems he repeatedly tends to take the side of moral values in life. In no circumstances, he wants to forego the path of ethics.” A Stir Within” he says-

Redefining the moral ethics is my first love.
To augment the space of my own immorality
And stand in defiance against the gods of love.

In the same poems he avows-

O'Spring! Align thy feeble radiations towards my frosty heart
To break the shackles of my rusted soul,
Melt now the icy resolve ingrained
And let it glow again with its hidden passion!

He wants to stand ‘for purity,/In thoughts and acts in public and private?" His “Introspection” contains his avowed resolution-

O'Mystic Mariner! Come back and delve into our souls,
Come rechart the mystic pheromones of our hearts,
Rechart the course of love to breathe, no more sordid air.

Other love poems are “Shadows of Love” about a lamentation over lost love, “My True Love” expressing personal love, “Soulnappers” describing his muse as an inspiration. “You” and “Enthralled’ are significant poems on love and beauty, while ‘My Valued Muse” is his idea on love and life. ‘Unseen Bridge” talks about bliss of love, “Beloved Sleep Sound” is equally a remarkable poem of love.  Cravings, desires, longings, passions, dreams are characteristics of his love poetry.

Woman Issues

The poet also raises some woman-specific issues in his poetry. He accords proper due to her as she plays a pivotal role in the evolution of man. “The She, Besides Me” is a very beautiful saga of a woman who plays multiple roles in the life of a man. A mother, sister, beloved, and better half daughter she brings about a lot of metamorphosis of betterment in the life of a man. The love, affection and care he receives from her is all that matters in his life. He personifies his motherland in whose lap the poets is destined to sleep for ever. He appeals to mother earth:

The years fly by so fast... time awaits no man.
Soon my time here will be done.
She shall cradle me in her warm environs,
Protect my carcass from the jackals,
My Motherland!

“Honour Her” is a remarkable poem calling for total emancipation of woman. It looks down upon the co-called forced ‘purdah’ system for her. Here, clerics are criticised, perverted thoughts of male towards female are satirised. He, as a real sympathiser of woman, accentuates her significance, her worth and value:

Eve, a treasure house of love and care,
Is much more than a means to satisfy needs:
An honoured soul of God with all rights
To protect herself from acts of infidelity.

Eve, a peerless gift of nature to mankind,
Our succour and guide to morality,
Let the gifts be wrapped and covered
To celebrate her honour and value.

Besides, there are also some other poems about woman and her emancipation. “Eve Emancipation” deals with the plight of teenage girls and woman and questions the provision of government made for her emancipation. The poet declares:

Eve Emancipation! Our most ardent hope vocalized,
In this oppressed and militarized nation of ours.-

Voice of Protest

Perveiz Ali is a strong voice of protest drawing universal attention to glaring issues of Kashmir, tormented and terrorised since long. Long ensuing conflicts and strife have wrecked havoc everywhere in the paradise valley. It is quite natural that his poetry poignantly reflects the sorry state of affairs of Kashmir of contemporary times. The poet observes the pungent panorama and makes an attempt to voice against those responsible for defilement of beauty of the valley and loss of lives. At the same time he pleads for restoration of love and peace there. He is vehemently vocal against the prevailing system that has almost snatched the rights of the common people of Kashmir. In “Social Cannibals” he describes himself:

Under the shade of a petrified Chinar tree,
In a crowd, thoughtless and helpless was I
Isolated, meandering in the valleys of chaos.

His poetry is some sort of protest and revolt against the stagnant political system rotten to the bottom. “Vote for truth” is an expression of his angst and ire against the political stricture that has cordoned the lives of the people, crippling them forever. Be it the political, to bigotry or dogmatic ideology, he spares none. He satirises all for pushing the state in such a quagmire of never-ending struggles, and disgruntlement of the people as ‘All participate in denying freedom. In this perspective, his Spring Denied” is an eye opener.

Chocolates and sweets are tendered to us,
But in their centre lies a poisonous blend,
To colonize our thoughts and curtail our freedom,
A surreptitious mission to deny our rights,
To divide our nation and maintain their supremacy.

A peace by rule of fear and deceit
Is peace short-lived in its hypocrisy?

He raises fingers at the electoral system fostering the political gimmick He disapproves the political leaders as their ‘rahnuma’; they are rather ‘oppressors’ who ‘serve their own interests’. Kashmir as a land of agony rather a treasure trove of beauty and wealth lies ‘raped’, ‘destroyed by mayhem and greed’ is realistically portrayed. This poem is a dismal panorama of sufferings of Kashmir. His next poem ‘Ruminations’ is a severe criticism of ‘Politicians’, ‘Bureaucrats’, ‘Media’, ‘Intellectuals’,’ Teachers’,’ Administrators.’, and ’Social workers’. He writes an elegy oh his ‘Paradise Lost’ and mourns and prays ‘for recovery of lost glory’. Telling his pathetic tale, he wants:

For God's sake! Bring back the glorious past,
That of Heaven on earth, that was so blessed,
A paradise of peace with beautification worldwide!
Oh God! Would that Kashmir once more glowed!

His poems dealing with Kashmir issues very aptly bring to the fore not only the travails of people, but also the atrocities on woman with bitter satire on  National jingoism and religious bigotry. The people of Kashmir, as he says, are sandwiched ‘between the parables of deceits.’ His poems are Symphony and Euphony in the cacophony of Kashmir. His “Chinar” is a symbolic poem of hope and joy. Another important poem “A Victim” reflects his thoughts and devotion and love for his motherland. He says-

Blind me with pellets
Deafen me with hot iron rods
And cut my tongue with sharp knives.

Call me an anti-national
A secessionist
Or a fringe element!
For supporting the rights of the oppressed

“Justice Denied” and “Kashmir Delirium” are equally sensitive poems highlighting the cause of the common people of Kashmir. “Dream in the Prison” is a poem of strong determination and powerful protest:

The more darkness you thrust upon my head,
The more determined stands my inner being;
Determined to carve out the valleys of dark,
And enlighten all their cracks and crevices
To dissipate this ignorance-filled acumen.
O'Pen! Be ready now to stand and shine,
Shield my endeavours against the dark.

His poems are replete with scathing lines of his social and political revolt, calling for communal harmony, love and peace to be restored in the troubled valley.

Jingoism and Terrorism

In his poetry, terrorism and terrorist issues figure to a considerable extent He makes the mention of encounters, fake encounters, Hindu and Muslims strife, communal riots that have added fuel to the fire engulfing the entire valley. The poet is so shattered by these acts that he never forgets the highhandedness of the authorities who label the innocent Kashmiri youths ‘antinational’ and ‘secessionist’, if they protest against them. InShould I Forget?”, he recounts:

People waiting in queue during a crackdown in Lal Chowk, Srinagar,
Should I forget the countless nights I spent in open sky?
Dying death of shame as women folk are forced to remain inside,
With all the government gunmen searching our houses
As we are labeled antinational and secessionist!-

Poetry of belief and religiosity

The poet’s staunch submissive temperament is well reflected in his poetry. Some poems contain his faith in Almighty. He surrenders to God for all that causes humanity to bleed due to ‘human sins’. With imageries taken from the world of nature, he tries to absolve his soul of all the sins. In “Bloody Rain”, he waits for the judgment day and prays to Him to pardon him-

Over, into the light, I venture timidly.
Mercy on my soul! I know I'm not worthy.

Objects of nature, like rain, sun, earth, mud, winter, darkness etc as reflected in his poems are the symbols that embody subtle thoughts of the poet.

His ‘Abandon Disparity” contains the universal message of upholding values, truth and conviction in the divine power  believed to be achieved only by the pure feeling of love. Hence he appeals to the people to beat the hatred in their heart-

Submit to truth, accountability and co-existence in faith!
Beyond divisions is the unity of love: let's abandon hate!

Contemporary world is in total chaotic state. Everything is topsy-turvy. The heat of the world is scorching as the poet feels. He turns to the supreme power for succour to his soul. ”Thou Metamorphosed Me” is a penetrating poem of hope, faith and belief. He avers-

Hopeful I stand in this world of chaos,
Ardently committed to hold on till my last breath,
Pulsating, your heavenly aroma engulfed me,
Pleasing my deep rooted dark intricacies
Year after year delighting in your presence,
Blessed am I to soothe my parched soul
In the sweetness of eternal Springs ...

“Regret” and “Unbidden Destiny” are other important poems of strong hope, determination, and resilience. Appreciation of God for everything, subjective and objective is also palpable in his poetry. Despite the degeneration of the world, he wants his soul to be illuminated. In “Regret”, he reveals-“I regret not/ In dying thousand deaths/ For the candle of untainted soul!”

Humanity and harmony

He is a great humanist to the core. His is the poetry of hope and determination, of sanguine attitude to human life. He sparks and splints a hope of light in the darkness of despair and disappointment in the frustrated heart of humanity. He laments over the loss of humanitarian sense and humane values. In his “Game of Inadequacies”, he wants-

To see a planet with humanity in all.
No discrimination, no boundaries, no divisions,
A pious soul, an elite kind of humanity

As a poet of contemporary reality he highlights the grave issues of hunger, poverty, inequality, social and political injustice, materialism and greed, cow vigilantism, jingoism. Through his poetry he is voicing against the forces of brutality, injustice, and oppression reigning and ruining the lives of Kashmiris. With the realistic portrayal he bemoans in “What of Earth?’“-

Prevalent is injustice, and imbalance,
Power dispensation, misgovernance and state intimidation.

Poignantly rendering Kashmir’s pain to the outside world his “Fallacy” assumes and exhumes

In lanes and streets of need,
Fractured skeletons wail and cry.

However, he never loses hope and believes in the same poem-

The flag of peace is yet to be unfurled.
One day solutions may come forth,
And selfless love will roam the streets.
Goodness and mercy will reign in the world.
Only time will bear the fruit of truth.

Beauty of Nature

Kashmir is known for its picturesque and enchanting beauty. While living in the lap of nature, he evolves a beautiful sense of appreciation of nature. Hence, he cannot restrain describing and expressing his love of natural beauty of Kashmir. In some of his poems his treatment of nature is excellent.  In “Shikara Ride” his delineation is worth noting:

Glide on mesmerizing Dal Lake,
An invite to enjoy intimate nature.

In such moments suspended in time,
Forgotten, the tears and angst of life!
Happy moments that bring such peace,
As nature's bounty is enjoyed.

Enveloped by love and calm peace,
A gift from Nature to all her offspring,
Beautiful sunrises and sunsets,
A commune with nature so wondrous.

The anthology under review is also remarkable for the beauty of ghazal it contains for the readers.“Sand Grains”, “Life Cycle”, “Inner Secrets”, ‘Abandon Disparity” are beautiful and soulful ghazals for humming to souls.

In the final analysis it must be said that In “Fractious Mind”, the poet sings ‘the songs of solace, /Amidst the flames of chaos and deceit!’ erects, through his poetry, ‘ the minarets of hope’ for ‘Piercing the columns of dark’ to ‘ adorn the scornful skies’, ‘With bulbs of eternal happiness’ .. for ‘return to harmony'. True realities of wounded Kashmir are well reflected through his literary craft and imagination. The analysis of his poetry is incomplete if the following extract of his “Verses of Life” is not taken into account-

Let's float along on a wave of sweet musings,
My drink is rhyme and my food is prose.
My path is poetry; each day is the verses,
May the words flow as rapids in a river!

Oh readers! My last wish I convey to you now,
When I die, read my works each day and fantasize.

Happy reading!


More by :  Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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