Book Reviews

O P Arora: The Sun Still Shines

A Critique on Modern Man’s Outlook – An Indictment

He is elegant in technique, treatment and phrase with urbane sensibilities. If he is ironical, he reveals frequently stirring craziness and idiosyncrasy in human nature particularly in love but is invariably polite, mild, and truthful. If he is gentle at first, toward the finale, he is sardonic and to some extent displays man’s repulsive nature, which one can construe as viewpoint on modern man and it turns out a devastating and cruel note on man’s life as he lives today.

In The Sun Still Shines (a publication of The Poetry Society of India, Gurgaon 2020, Haryana) O P Arora talks of human conduct and its innocuous ways of life. Nature acts as a purifier that cleanses inner aberrations of human beings, who are usually victims of anger, hatred and jealousy but brief and all pervasive influence of nature in the form of rain gives feel of ‘ecstasy infinite’ as man begins to enjoy life in a affirmative frame of mind. Questions of identity disturb. Neither one knows the origin nor does he know the destination even when one merges with the universal melody born of silence. If a man gets rid of self-defeating anguish, it turns into love.

With my pestilent past
I made peace.
Now, I am at peace.
The world too is at peace (Anguish 4)

He speaks of simple flaws of man that make him unhappy and miserable but if he tries to cleanse ‘the self’ from inbuilt imperfections that invite cynicism, he spreads peace. He wants man to live in peace. At least, stay at ease. He looks at man, happenings around, listens to the words spoken, and tries to find constructive meaning despite obvious spots of ugliness. Man suffers from simple but ruinous angularities and lethal blemishes, delights in acts of torture and dishonesty, and wishes to retaliate and so deadly animosity eats up. If he abandons such thoughts, life offers ecstatic moments.

Ideal principle of life teaches man to live away from feelings and thoughts of hatred and jealousy.  He laments over the incorrigibility of man, who in spite of a few perfections wishes to fall prey to the oft-repeated personality blotches. To love is perilous he hypothesizes.  To die on the railway track, to get devoured in a jungle or to jump from the lethal height or to choose other ways to end life may not work to satisfaction but if a man prefers to fall in love, escape from death is impossible and so he turns sardonic and acerbic24-25, for love is an infallible venom.

…beauty or no beauty
Her cuts and curves
Her figure and cleavages
Mesmerize him, drug him
…she enjoys his abject surrender.
No, doesn’t kill him in one go
bit by bit, moment by moment..

Satire and hypocrisy determine man’s attitude. He may acknowledge a kind of sanctity in life but down deep, he remains a firm charlatan and figure of mendacity whereas the real dawn offers hope, the eternal hope of joy in love - pure and immaculate (in It was Dawn 30), he appears to say.  

It was dawn
and she had to leave
sweet smiles, unwashed faces
twinkling eyes, glowing graces…
No promises, only hopes…

The poet looks at the contamination, guilt, negativity and bitterness in life in various regions of thoughts and emotions and possibly, experiences horrible traumatic moments. Next instant, he transforms sadness, regret and compunction into hope and glow and tells man to live optimistically, for it is best to transform unsightly face into beauty eternal provided one has the resolve with purity of heart and intellectual strength. A man ought to know that to have ‘a beastly existence’ is life wasted he appears to validate.

In little fragments of thoughts, he talks of ladylove but fails to get fulfillment in pure relation and still prefers halt somewhere on the way and so love remains incomplete but it still grants adequate joy even in abrasive experiences, for cowards do not make conquest a reality and no, not even in love.

Social concerns at times disturb and he blatantly speaks of insincerity men exhibit when issues of pure environment crop up and so, a man indulges in simulated and hollowed avowal sans genuine worry. Race for material gains continues unabated and therefore, man batters and exploits nature as untruth governs while darkness awaits future generations.

Love for materialism exhibits emptiness of huge house where desolateness rules as skeletons instill fears even while physical enticement end up what man calls love and therefore, reveals derisively contemporary ways of life when he mischievously tells –

Her shorts, really shorts
I patted her
…took us about half-an-hour…
we called it love (What Else). 

Psyche of people is to employ graceless and undignified language against the big because they fail to reach those heights, a normal human trait it is but the world moves ahead unconscious of the vilification or criticism.

Man cannot live alone and he cannot live in society also, for ego, selfishness, greed and questions of region, religion, and country haunt and torture, a harsh truth he speaks about often and opens up wily tendency to talk about ‘concepts and precepts’. A truth a man knows everybody understands but ignores. What a man imagines or visualizes never happens and what he does not think, takes place without notice and that is dilemma of man, a man, who censures god for love and ridicules for the blessings god showers and as such, he is never contented or rational.

Understanding human nature in various moods is poet’s strength where he reveals flaws and guilt of man, he never admits and claims he lives a principled life. However, a man refuses to accept that he wears many masks and lives a life of untruth, falsehood and betrayal even as many iniquitous men continue to grow within and outside, and therefore, one lives a life of camouflage.

Anxiety of parents to earn and grow rich neglectful of the children’s care, who need warm and selfless touch of love, is a malady afflicting many homes in contemporary times and ultimately, it spoils nature of ideal upbringing. At times, a man creates preposterous situations and talks of imagined future hiccups if he falls into trap of Me Too, for it would create dangerous rather humiliating and ridiculous situation after years. Witty and ludicrous is the situation when man wants to concentrate on serious issues of existence man and society face but ironically enough nuisance of mosquitoes disturbs…what a fine fall out and a travesty! Many wish to do great but invent excuses to dodge normal happenings that visit everyone.

Love apparently appears sublime and pure but down deep it is nowhere, he often tells in little verses. Poet wants to reveal truth but something stops and he pulls back from the expression of reality many times and that enhances the quest of man to know more about the unstated. The lines in ‘Lost Souls’ make startling ingress, somewhat eerie and a little deadly.

Love crouching in a corner
waiting to get noticed
expecting to be wowed and celebrated
slinked away with tears in his eyes
when they slumped on each other
half-awake, half dead,
crooning curses
on the fatal fall of love…

Interestingly, it seems, the poet in Arora visits lanes of past, the days of many young men, who do not open up and paint many love-scenes that appear passionate and warm and yet they withdraw suddenly and speak of ideal and pure love. It creates a little distrust, irrationality, fear, and it looks poet is uncertain like any man or woman in love that exists and still withdrawal appears to dominate. A few encounters many times haunt and disturb, some scare and raise questions wordless even as somewhere, not many create sense of infidelity imagined or otherwise and thus, many shades of love he depicts and raises eyebrows. To hit the inner feelings of many is perhaps the motive of this poet, who is ruthless now, at this age when he scrupulously analyzes youth and its follies. Elsewhere, ‘The Dark Corner’ has its meaning and objective to help selectively the travelers –it is that all are travelers in life?

the eager, crazy lovebirds…
unable to resist the temptation
need me and my loneliness
the tired traveler
seeking rest and refuge…
seeks my shade and patronage
mostly they come here to shit
and wash their asses with the mossy water…

To speak of reality in all it nakedness requires guts and language that does not violate grace of expression. Perhaps he is unbeaten…it seems. He feels love if taken lightly is dangerous, for it ends up in death or…the uncertainty stays to tease every time and the poet never stops from this grilling elegiac outlook, which one does not find in his earlier poetry. 

If ‘The Wild Forest’ moves smoothly and creates warm and passionate throbbing while experiencing the beauty of dense wood, it ends up in an uncanny way. Here, one begins one more journey to another indefinite experience as mystery and uncertainty in love and entity of love unidentified lingers on indefinitely. Words are inadequate either to define a relation that is merely a responsibility or to earmark one’s limits of imaginings that do not exhibit competence to interpret a bond. It is sheer expression of human feelings of love and sympathy with thoughts of silent and lonely unanticipated surrender.

My heart was filled with gratitude
No, I didn’t thank her…
How could I? With what words?
You couldn’t belittle her sacrifice
When you heart is ful
Words are never adequate (Words are never adequate) 

In some of the lyrics, social consciousness demonstrates logical anxiety in evolution. He talks of Love and God –not clearly understandable but it is a saga as if and so he loves a world of delusion. Wisdom and knowledge of books, great teachers and scholars and incessant discourses mean nothing but lead to violence and bloodshed, for man never learns.

Great wars
inhuman cruelties
senseless annihilations
hyped journeys…
They have set the world on fire
man’s mind always in the mire…

He uses ‘fire’ as a symbol of destruction. One cannot expect anything good from a civilized man one learns but the conduct of the current world disturbs, perhaps he laments in silence. 

In the present collection, he is awesome. Writes a word or two, abandons midway, and asks the reader to understand import. He quizzes, irritates and assails fine awareness and pushes the poetry lover to the precipice of impenetrability with shadows of connotations in downright confusion. The technique he adopts causes embarrassment to an untailored lover of poetry but that is exactly the strength of his verses. He tries to pierce the intellect and emotional field of each one to unveil hidden areas of darkness and teasing obscurity everyone hides. A scholarly indictment it is!


More by :  P C K Prem

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