A widely published bilingual renowned poet Saroj K Paddhi’s (b 1962) has so far brought out eleven anthologies of poetry, two books on Criticism and twelve research articles. Connected with a variety of poetry forums, he contributes poems frequently in addition to his personal blog and a poetry page ‘Saroj Poetry’ and that exhibits his tremendous interest in serious poetry. A winner of several awards, he is on the editorial boards of a couple of well-known journals. The Endless Flutter is Paddhi’s new anthology of forty-six poems with a very illuminating foreword from Dr. D C Chambial.
Nature is very close to poet’s heart and often in lonely moments, he thinks of the splendor of nature, enjoys the comforting beauty and magic it offers. The first verse signals immensity of love when he depicts natural scenario vividly in ‘A Lone Black Buck of Buguda’
I’m waiting for the moon to peek in
before I start my wandering
in search of dark clouds
in the chest of the night
sky with dreams of rain
in the hollows of my shrunken eye !
He gives graphic depiction of lust a man nurses within and behaves like a brute, for in intensity of passions he forgets normal human nature. It gets raw treatment in Alphabets of Lust 19, and here he hints at the modernity crawling deep into the contemporary psyche. Lines, ‘this frail vessel you emptied time and again to fill it with pittance’ and the terrifying symbols like ‘rubber-like teats’ and ‘dry like the vast corn fields’ stun. Poet’s is quite apt in use of metaphors to enhance the impact of secreted connotation.
‘Broken Journey 24’ vaguely reminds of history and poignantly speaks of the sufferings and deaths people confront in a free nation where pollution chokes, as lives and feelings of love and romance appear crippled. Unnatural deaths, violence and crudity visit the free land as ‘democracy’ fights valiantly with ghostly politics and ‘blind religion’ and therefore, the poet gives a shocking message with a hurt social consciousness.
In ‘Come Love’ with soft and musical lines, ‘when clouds confer in silence/ for breaking out into a noise at a/ distance now you can cool down to/ feel/ as we turn into/ two startled statues on bed of sprawling rocks on a dozing hill!’ he offers pictorially comforting image of nature. For a while, the sheer joy takes one away from the anxieties of the daily life.
Not only nature is an image and experience of beauty, magic and comforts but it provides reprieve and assurance if one seeks calm and quiet sanctuary in the lap of nature because it eliminates fears, doubts and uncertainties lurking in the mind and heart of man, who listens to the unvoiced message of nature. ‘Dusk 27’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine 29’ surprise.
the sighing ocean raises the veil of dark clouds
from Moon’s bruised face for kind beams to abate distress no
more fear of bomb or beast our mind doth enshroud
as the breeze wafts our spirits with love the night to brace. 27
Hopes and strength of anticipation and eternal brightness fill incorrigible spirit of an optimist with positivity and its spread elevates and sanctifies heart of humankind. It needs pat of love and eternal harmony, “if by chance you become defaulter for a day /see how in darkness for you, the woods silently pine with / promise in their heads of that eternal sunshine!” Nature lyrics sustain a melodious surge, and an inimitable cadence engages whereas attitude of total acquiescence and renunciation is obvious in ‘Give me some Space 35,’ where he prays as if, “…me lie like a neglected log on nearby wood path /for a taste of the flavor of your love, pure and sooth.”
He feels blessed and contented in nature, for it communicates with him as if and transmits everlasting message of love, peace and harmony even as he speaks of man’s insatiable outlook and self-indulgence together with magnanimous blessings of nature. He depicts soft touches of ‘Monsoon 43’ as he talks of life of deprivation as slum dwellers struggle to survive in dreadful time of nature’s fury. Destructive face of nature he reveals in ‘Pre-monsoon Rain 48’ and exposes man’s malicious nature, for indiscriminate exploitation of nature is a signal of near devastation. Man causes colossal damage and invites anger and ferocity of nature. The thought takes us back to ‘Bateshwar Beach 20.’ Warning to man is inherent.
If man continues to violate nature, it will definitely retaliate with ferocity. In ‘Lockdown 38’ feelings of subdued joy and delight reveal man’s innate love for nature that during the extraordinary time of quietness in the activities of man, it returns a bit to its innate loveliness. Poet is intentionally silent but understands that in uncertain pandemic days perhaps, transitory but mandatory discontinuance of man’s predatory and materialistic propensities has made nature a little comfortable. It is a silent message humankind ought to listen for survival, ‘life seems to be lovelier in moments of isolation when/ time is ripe enough for self-introspection.’ Poets love nature but invariably calamitous and benign character of nature reveals its intolerance when man is engaged in brutal exploitation and the consequences are obvious all over the world. Poetry often warns man and silently appeals (?) to protect it but none listens, an understated question arises.
In joyful disposition, he forgets the unsympathetic impact lockdown exercises on majority of population and economy if one ignores socializing aspects. He vaguely tries to awake people to social anxieties as in ‘Lockdown, Me Too, Monsoon, Nirbhaya Rape … ’ but leaves much to the reader to deliberate, a good way to speak and yet not to be so obvious. Social or economic anxieties distress this insightful poet. If he pays rich tributes to Gandhi 34, who won freedom with endearing smiles without weapons, he also thinks of Subhash Bose 50, with feelings of disillusionment. These great men freed the country from alien dominance but now, everything is a waste because today’s leaders change affiliations for money and care little for the destiny of people and ethics and principles.
fire in common man’s blood turns wilder
morals go loose, education takes the back seat
and vasectomized of love,
the new gen for sex grows bitter… 56
‘Longing 39’ is a symbolic delight and joy in little fragments the poet offers and as one goes deep into essence it fulfills. Padhi to me seems engrossed in objects of nature and finds meaning of real joy. Very rarely the poet looks out of nature and if he does at times, it is just a momentary act, for he hardly finds the kind of relief and joy outside nature. Indian English Poets after nineteen seventies began to pushback slowly but unknowingly thoughts of cynicism and anguish, which besieged city poets and diverted attention to nature and ubiquitous social and economic irritations troubling people. ‘New Year 45’ eloquently speaks of the sufferings of the people who live ‘filth, poverty, crime and squalor’ yet nurse hopes of a bright future, ‘for there is so much joy in each imperfect thing’ - a beautiful expression.
People suffered but demonstrated utmost resilience as the nation surged forward with confidence, and strengthened socialistic system of governance. Social issues did disturb young and flourishing poets and creative people but they found nature as a better asylum for true serenity and inspiration. Padhi gives hints of the social, economic and political problems but resists the temptation to indulge in poetic discourse and that makes his poetry quite different.
‘Mother’ is a beautiful lyric as it invokes love for the mother earth and mother, who care everyone without expectation. He reflects on the idyllic and salubrious effect of nature with poignant reminiscences of old days spent in the beauty and charisma of nature. Many verses speak of his love for nature as in Romancing Trees, Smooth Sail, Solitude and Spring Wonder and many more while ‘Staying at Home’ offers supreme realization away from the frenzied and raucous surroundings. Unique sounds of tuneful words flowing like a silent hill-stream captivate. Nostalgic spirit of poet makes you to join him at some point of his quiet journey into the beautiful land of nature.
Am I still waiting for some old waves to retire to
the edge of the windy shore of a lonely sea where
a barge left me long back
with a promise to return with old glee and to the
blue space behind the sky lovingly carry me! 51
Modern age is an age of contest, competition, defeat and consequent loss and the recognition drives him to nature with an eagerness for its perfect love, for ‘deception and mendacity’ appears the objective of modern man. To attain wealth and fame is the motif with little thoughts of humankind. Living a mechanical life is typically insipid practice sans any hope for better future as man is lost in hysterical and fanatical pursuits for ever escalating money-oriented gains without success and if he is the victor, he lives a disillusioned life, the lyric ‘Where is Life lost in Living 65’ conveys. It appears a man is dead and is a witness to the end of alleged new civilization.
Where have we lost life
in the blind alleys of our living
where over losses, we’re found grieving
without the simple joys of love in living?
Modern age lives with injured human bonds as identity struggles for acknowledgment and therefore, an unvarying revitalization process continues. Poet in ‘Wounded World’ raises some relevant issues fighting for possible resolution so that humankind lives in peace. He wants to get rid of present imbroglio where identity and survival confront challenges and distortions but still optimism permeates not only in nature lyrics but also in a socially conscious poet, who appears a protagonist of the underprivileged segment of society, and that speaks enough for the powerful ‘serious’ poetry.