Book Reviews

Jyotirmaya Thakur's Silhouettes of Love

Jyotirmaya Thakur, a noted bilingual poet and writer, has emerged a bright literary star in the poetic world of Indian English Poetry. Retired as vice Principal of an International school she devotes her time to writings. She has to her credit eighth volumes of poetry. She again comes up with her ninth collection of poems entitled Silhouettes of Love. This time hers is poetry of reveries and vivid self-analysis. Endowed with poetic talent, she loves pouring out her heart, in pursuit of aesthetic pleasure. Her poetry is mainly characterized by love and its varied forms- love for nature, love for family, love for humanity, love for the past, love for the root etc. Love as a creative force goes a long way in satiating the creative urge of the poet. However, the present collection is different from other love poetry. Imbued with simplicity of expression and purity of heart and intensity of impulses marked with sincerity, loyalty and innocence her poetry is subjective and self-revelation. Her poetry is reflection and recollection of fond and lovely memories of mother, father, nanny, grandad and grandmother, love, nostalgia, childhood days, village house, school days, family members, importance of joint family, sports and awards, and all the rural background, with special reference to her observation and experiences of life.

Silhouettes of Love is a poetic diary of her thoughts and feelings, cherished as a sweet memoire of her days passed in the rural landscape. She begins with “Grace of God”, a lovely poem dedicated to her mother. The child in her giggles with delight’ The poem reflects the poet’s love and respect for mother who is ‘An earthen dulcet heavenly divine, /A triumphant history of strife’. Mother is indeed a paragon of virtues, a replica of God on the earth. She calls mother ‘The guardian angel of Lord / A sublime grace of God,/My guiding light of love, / Peaceful existence of a dove.’ On the other hand, she remembers her father in “Precious Times”. Her father’s words have a transformative effect on her. She still remembers each and every advice he had given to her:

Always live well without regret,
Don't give up, not now, nor ever,
Good times come who appreciate what they get
Future is not set so create your own splendour.’

Some poems dealing with family and familial persons and issues are “My Father”, “A Tribute To Parents”, “Father To Son”, “Father’s Princess”, “Family Scars”,” Grandmother”, “Grandad”, “My Mother”, “Family”, “My Nanny”, “The Village Fair” etc.

Seasonal variations of time are an important trait of her poetry. She mentions seasons like Spring, Summer and Winter as a technique of poetic writing to befit her expression of varying moods and evolving sensibility. “Spring Serenade”, “Winter Waltz”, “Summer Solistice”, “Autumn Of My Life”, “Carnival Season”, “Summer In Paris” are some remarkable poems in this respect. In “Summer Solstice “, she expresses:

The house is still intact, with a few repairs
In the middle of the fields, summer arrived.
I am back to return all the favours,
Cherish and gather memories that survived,
All beautiful reminiscences to be revived.

The progression of poetic thoughts of the poet, in course of time, from infancy to adulthood witnesses various phases- ups and downs- of life. Childhood memories of happiness and fancies of her youth are all fresh and indelibly etched in her psyche. In recollection of these good and bad moments of life she turns introspective and philosophic. “Autumn Of My Life” highlights her musings thus:

I saw a light at the end of the tunnel,
And closed the door behind,
Walking towards the flame of freedom,
Opened my wings and soared high.
The gnawing pain vanished and ignited my soul,
Total abandonment was the only solution to my tortured whole.
The leaves had dried and found solace in falling,

Life has to face series of various challenges posed by time, through change of seasons. But a person of strong and firm determination has to stand the test of time to survival all the blows. The sense of adjustment alone helps him/her tide over all the ups and downs of life. Her “Adjustment” reveals:

An autumn of desolation,
The winter of resignation,
A lesion in the brain refuses medication,
This is adjustment, a denouement,
For people detached from
The soul departed.

Her poetry reflects her concerns over aging and retirement blues. As she turns sixty, she feels the pangs of losing ‘Youthful energy’. Her ‘mirth changed to greying tears’. In old age money problem also crops up. But she is optimistic as she believes – ‘Every moment, everyday would be mine for sure’. She is aware that ‘Morning dawn bring new energy and dusk restore serenity/Rains would wash away tears and breeze blow breath of being’. “Curtain Draws” expresses her hope for the best and her pursuit for peace:

Walking softly traversing in wonder at Earth's beauty,
Clouds whisper courage of courteous creativity.
All seasons would be mine to reflect the world at leisure,
Rainy, spring, summer, autumnal pleasure,
Cold age enjoy warm hearth flames of winter,
Peace will reside inside as the Universe filters.

The element of romantic feelings and emotion is perceptible in some of the poems. She boldly expresses her first ‘awesome’ experience of love fetching immense joy in her life. Her “Accidental Love “bespeaks of the poet’s first encounter of love reiterating ‘everything is fair in love and war’. She remembers her craving for the soothing ‘touch’. She calls her love ‘the most precious gift from the above’- ‘The timeless gift of eternal love’. She opines - “True love astounds with enormous tenacity, /One waits till eternity for true love is unity”. Her poem “First Impressions Of Love” contains her belief in the love at first sight-

First impression of love is the first call of heart,
Pure echo of ecstasy that resounds in every part.
So pure and pristine like angelic shares,
That stays throughout life and never fades.

Some poems such as “Moment I Fell In Love”, “Fragrance Of My Life” etc are her loving outpourings of the tender feeling of her heart.

“Little Poet’s Journey” is an autobiographical poem that highlights the poetic journey of the poet- a 5 year child ‘chasing butterflies in fields’, ‘climbing trees’ to her becoming a poet of tender sensibility, burning in flame of love or bleeding pricked by its thorns. The poet talks about her creative journey:

The bleeding heart collects all treasures,
Like water boiling in cup of measures.
A steamy dance sprouts from a kettle,
Poet's soul is of a different metal,
Veiled in the garb of famished beggar,
The perfect poise of human endeavour.
Starved and hungry always wanting more,
Feed the soul with melody of lore,
Caress the magic tip on each grain of sand,
And this is how journey of a poet began.

Nature is also an important preoccupation of Jyotirmaya Thakur who has a great penchant for objects of nature. She seeks respite in the lap of nature, by observing its myriads moods, beauty and bounty. She listens ‘to the magic whispers of old trees,’ that ‘weave a picture ‘of serenity whose beauty is to her ‘heavenly bliss’. She derives inspiration from it. Most of her poems vividly present the rural landscape- picture of village, school, orchards, trees, ponds, rains, clouds, sky, and so on so forth, thus reflecting her fascination with nature. In “Last Day Of The Year”, she rightly writes:

I appreciate the lovely time spend in Nature's lap
The grace that I spend with family friendly swaps,
I rejoice the light of good that shines to ignite my soul,
The genuine gratitude for my journey as a whole.
Its a mirror bygone of a soul in search of new horizons,
Seeking answers to new quests and new pastures.

Her poetry is celebration of life and happy enjoyment of festivities. She calls life ‘a journey of celebration’, ‘Nature’s miracle’ as union of humanity and ‘an atom’ of eternity. Family holidays, get-together, birthdays, anniversaries -all these festive occasions are rejuvenating and invigorating to beat the monotony of mundane life. “Holy Thread Ceremony”, “Celebration”, “Ecstasy In Enormity”, “Festive Celebrations”, “Kite Flying”, “The Village Fair”, “Sacred Ganges”, “Festival Of Lights”, “Carnival Season” etc are some significant poems of celebration. In “Festival Of Lights” she highlights the significance of Diwali:

Diwali means to be in present moments,
Dropping regrets of past, worries of future segments,
Forgive the bickering, negativity of bygone year,
Throw light on wisdom gained, overcome fears.

Her poetry is significantly notable for the portrayal of Indian life. Some of her poems bear the stamps of Indianism, thus reflecting her love and respect of everything Indian. She probes into her roots in India and her beautiful landscape. Search for identity is the need of her wandering soul. She derives strength from going back to her roots, to her childhood days. Far away from her native land, she looks back to her country, with wondrous reverie, at times with a nostalgia, other times with a sense of loss- the loss of the past, her days in her village, in her country. She , with great reverence, remembers Indian traditions, faiths and rituals, Dussehra and The Ganga. In “the Ganges” she calls the river ‘the soul of Indian existence’, a symbol of ‘spiritual growth and ritual’. In fact, the Ganga is symbolic of ‘India’s multicultural ethos and syncretism’. Not only this, she also laments over the defilement of the Ganga, In her “remember Gandhi” she pays her tribute to the Father of Nation by highlighting his philosophy of non-violence and his cosmopolitan and secular outlook. She declares:
To err is human not brutal retakes,
Conquer opponent’s enmity with love,
Confront hatred and rise above.
There is only one God and yes,
Quote Gandhi-”I am all Hindu,
A Muslim,a Christian,a Buddhist and a Jew.”
There is force in Universe that will flow,
And produce miraculous results multifold.

Her exploration, through her poetry, is a ‘blissful journey of discovery and wonder’, ‘ from loneliness to splendour’ and it, she firmly believes, strengthens the roots as she mentions in her poem “Splendid Sustenance.”

In addition to the poems imbued with Indian sensibility and social ethos she also writes about some places outside India. Such poems on foreign lands and places include “Bohemian Villa”, “Discovering Rochester”, “Summer In Paris”, “Carnival Season” etc.

Poetic excellence and brilliance of her thoughts are sufficiently manifested in her remarkable poem “Ecstasy in Existence” which, in fact, best summarises quintessence of her poetry. Like many of her poems, this poem also is personal and reflective. The poet seeks recluse in ‘memories’ of the past and feels ecstatic in her solitude. Flashes of these memories rejuvenate her love for the eternity. She also derives pleasure from ‘immortal treasures of childhood or adolescence’. In form of poetry, she opens ‘the Pandora box’ of recollected memories etched in her ‘subconscious mind’ and explores her existential realm of experiences from home and family to love and ecstasy, from recollections to reflections, from natural landscape to metaphysical and spiritual musings. The poetic brooding uplifts her “spirits high in sad moments of silence”. She avers:

Every morning the hope of fulfilling my purpose in life,
For a life of love and support of dear ones by my side,
Blessed in capable existence of solving any strife,
A blissful existence of exploring and in God abide.

In the light of foregoing analysis of Jyotirmaya Thakur’s poetry we find that Silhouettes of Love is suffused with native sensibility and emotive imagery and teeming with philosophy of life. She has extraordinary power of expression and perception of ideas well manifested through her excellent craftsmanship. Tropes taken from the scenes of countryside and natural surroundings lend beauty to her poetic opulence. Her poetry is fraught with varied ideas, scintillating thoughts, and mind-blowing and soul-searching musings and abounds in personal feelings, emotions, sentiments, reveries and memories, and thus tends to be genuine expression of felt experience.

I wish her all the best!


More by :  Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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