Ecology by A.K. Ramanujan by Bijay Kant Dubey SignUp
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Ecology by A.K. Ramanujan
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

Ecology excerpted from Second Sight (published in 1986) is one of those poems of A.K. Ramanujan which deal with man and trees and their relationship, bringing to fore the ecology matter doing the rounds today. Here in this poem the poet talks of the red champak trees as well as his mother who is sick with migraine, the story of age-old relationship in between the two and the writer as the third person meddling in, taking the things from his own perspective, contradicting and arguing to establish, take a toll upon. But apart from the champak discussion and migraine, what is more important is to know is this that Ramanujan is first and foremost an ironist and his praise lies in his irony as he cannot help without it. The second thing is this that his is an oblique approach. To speak in the undertones and the overtones is the specialty of his poetry. If to see it otherwise, his is a base of vyangya   and vakrokti. He cannot say the things without a twist or turn, without a pinch of salt, a fillip taken. To spice the things and to see with the colourful eyes is the forte of the writer.

After the first rains he embarks upon catching the train hurriedly to land at to reach home in a rage, a mile away from his home, he feels about the trees in blossom, the champak flowers hanging by, bedecking as well as fragrancing enough which while on the other may cause harm to his mother in the form of severe unbearable headache. With an aura of their own, they have spread the heavily-hung pollen with fragrance which even the winds cannot sift. Even the house in which they live in cannot keep it aloof from and the scent entering into through the pores like unwanted guests prohibited from and fragrancing  all the time.

Ecology by A.K. Ramanujan

The day after the first rain,
for years, I would home
in a rage,
for I could see from a mile away
our three Red Champak Trees
had done it again,
had burst into flower and given

Mother her first blinding
migraine of the season
with their street-long heavy-hung
yellow pollen fog of a fragrance
no wind could sift
no door could shut out from our black –
pillared house whose walls had ears
    and eyes,
scales, smells, bone-creaks, nightly
visiting voices, and were porous
    like us,
but Mother, flashing her temper
like her mother's twisted silver,
grandchildren's knickers
wet as the cold pack on her head,
would not let us cut down
a flowering tree

There is nothing but the talk of the champak trees, the mother with the likeness, sense and sensibility of her own but the son complaining to cut it down as for migraine. The poet has personified the tree and it seems to be a part of discussion as the poem Felling of A Bunyan Tree by Dilip Chitre too is same in theme and content. The mother has the reasons of her own for her likeness. This is as because the trees have grown through the dropping of the seeds by the birds which are but providential in some sense. The other thing is this that the daughters like to keep them in the baskets and can be used for worship, can be for their wedding purposes if the time coincides with flowering. Flowers are also needed for worship. Some also like to keep it into the braid of the hair. Daughters and children like to possess the flowers.

The theme of the poem is whether man can live without the trees. Trees are important for us and our existence. The answer is clearly, no, man cannot without and this too Wordsworth says it in the poem, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. But as a poet Ramanujan is so much closer to Alexander Pope and John Dryden as the Augustan Age of poetry suits him best and his protagonist works as a buffoon, a scoffer, a satirist, a humorist and a mimic. Comic, humour, satire, caricature, laughter, joke and comment are the chief properties of his poetry. There is of course something of generation gap which we derive it from the ideas of his mother and son both as the mother is ready to bear the pains of migraine but the son in favour of cutting down. This states how we have lived with the trees, how have our sadhus and sadhakas with the beasts and brutes of the forests.

When we read the first stanza, the pictures and images of the first summer rain, a passenger alighting at the halt and coming and that too with a view to seeing the old house and solving some problem:

The day after the first rain,
for years, I would home
in a rage,

The poet often comes to and puts before the proposal of cutting down the tree and the mother in turn declines to do in her each and every attempt of reconciliation and coming to terms to.

In the second small stanza of the poem, the poet talks of the champak blossoms, bedecking and beautifying the space, engaging the landscape with its flowering, beauty and fragrance, the pollen falling and letting the earth cover up with the dust of it:

for I could see from a mile away
our three Red Champak Trees
had done it again,

Even from a distance he can see the red champak trees in flower and with the bounty of bliss and boon or bane every season. This is a quality of the flower tree that it keeps the environment pure. One can feel the scent or fragrance when passing through the ways.

The flowers in bloom and the headache blinding in their first spate lie it discussed in:

had burst into flower and given
Mother her first blinding
migraine of the season

The lines speak of the burst into flowers, the season’s coming, and mother feeling the first bout of pain as for migraine. The lines in continuation of the same theme carry on theme, the Hamletian dilemma, to cut or not to cut.

When the champak flowers bloom, they strike us with their golden beauty and fragrance lying heavy with the air. Let us see how he writes:

with their street-long heavy-hung
yellow pollen fog of a fragrance
no wind could sift

The champak flowers yellowish and golden, in full beauty and fragrance charm us peculiarly apart from the pollens fallen, scattered over and the air thick with. The imagery is golden no doubt here draped in gold.

No door can shut out the smell, the strong odour, the heavy scent coming in and so is his house even though he wants to shut out and letting it not come. The black-pillared house too seems to be with eyes and ears.

no door could shut out from our black –
pillared house whose walls had ears
   and eyes,

The house too is porous like us as because it too appears to be a part of the discussion going on between mother and son and the house seems to be hearing it about.

scales, smells, bone-creaks, nightly
visiting voices, and were porous
   like us,

There is something of the whispers going around, discussions taking place. The walls of the house seem to be partaking in the discussion around, maybe it a fuss, the fuss of Uncle Podger or the whispers of Macbeth after the dagger held into the hands of his smeared with blood thinking the walls have heard and the stars have seen. So is the case with the champak blossoms and the pollens scattering to enter in.

But mother gets displeased when the matter comes up for a discussion and she turns it down as for environment, sense of beauty and the daughters and granddaughters and sons. The picture of a grandmother huddling and caressing her son’s daughters and sons too flashes upon when we talk of her.

but Mother, flashing her temper
like her mother's twisted silver,
grandchildren's knickers

She will not let her cut down the champak trees so full of golden yellow flowers and sweet redolence catching our fancy and maddening us with its sweet redolence. The cchatim blossoms too are similar in scent and redolence, but the leafless standing palash and simul blossoms hang by peculiarly during the spring season.  The tiny seuli blooms blooming and scattering and the kaaminis white and icy cool have too an aura of their own.

wet as the cold pack on her head,
would not let us cut down
a flowering tree

It is a family matter and Ramanujan is a writer of his family matters and nowhere can he go leaving the periphery of it.

Ecology is no doubt a representative poem of A.K. Ramanujan wherein he talks of the family matter, the house he was born, the champak trees in blossom and motherly views and opinions, the pollens scattering, the air thick with the heavy scent and the disease migraine afflicting her. The son wants to get it cut, but the mother likes it not as for conventional views. Trees are but a part of life and Nature and the world inhabit and live in. They keep the environment fresh and lively. We get flowers and logs from. The second thing is this that people love flowers and their sweet scent. Even Gods need them. The other meaning of this poem is this that this world consists of all, the living and non-living things and both must co-exist as they have been for years and years and one cannot be imagined in the absence of the other. The poem opens up new vistas and avenues of thought and we start thinking of flower plants and exotic trees. The banyan tree with Savitri and Satyavan, the peepul tree with Buddha seated under it getting Enlightenment, the bel tree connected with Shiva, how can we forget our roots and connections?

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19-Dec-2020
More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey
 
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