Ishika Bansal. Threads of Life.
Gurugram: The Poetry Society of India, 2017.
ISBN: 978-93-83888-88-7. PB. Price: $ 12, 120.
Threads of Life is the first collection of poems written by Ishika Bansal. It brims with forty poems written on different themes. It is, of course, a nice surprise that a child has so fertile imagination that resulted in creation of these poems. The values that Ishika wants to bring to light through her poems are really praiseworthy. She does not touch only domestic part of life. Her concerns are both national and global. She takes the readers to the nature and natural resources that, in her words, are given to the mankind ‘freely’ but the duties and responsibilities of the people towards preserving those resources are not realized by them. It causes pain to the budding poet, therefore, in her poem entitled “Save Trees”, she pleads to the people: “Please don’t cut them / As they are more precious than any gem/They are perfect gift of nature” (Lines 7-9).
She further writes that trees are “so sweet, humble and kind”. Even when peopledon’t stop cutting trees blindly, they give them shade. Trees give us oxygen and food. They cause rain through clouds. All natural objects are kind to human beings. The poet requests all “Please don’t destroy them / Be rational and use your keen sensible mind” (“Importance of Nature”, Lines 13-14). In another nature poem, “Save Water”, the poet again appeals to the people: “Save water, water will save you” (Line 1). The poem, “Save the Environment” also comes in this group that is full of questions in order to save the earth from all kinds of pollutions. Through these poems it is clear that the showers of kindness of nature to humankind can be compared with the kindness of the poet towards nature. Her four nature poems are really gems of this collection.
The duties and responsibilities of the people as expected in her nature poems arealso revealed in the poem “A Good Citizen”. Today when people least care about these things and want to amass wealth by hook or by crook, her gentle concern has a far-sighted message, particularly for those who are decision makers but lack ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ for their nation: “A good citizen is one / Who develops the country by his vision / And makes it his mission.” (“A Good Citizen”, Lines 1-3). This poem also reminds us of lessons to be learnt from histories, particularly from India that it was invaded and ruled by foreigners for centuries. So what one needs to protect one’s country from evil eyes and make it prosperous that should not be forgotten. Ishika writes in another poem: “Life is a beautiful journey / For all to enjoy and learn from the past” (“What Life Teaches Us”, Lines 1-2) and in the same poem she warns the readers, “But don’t keep in touch / With people who suppress” (“What Life Teaches Us”, Lines 13-14). The second poem on the similar subject draws our attention towards the maturity of this young mind. Her suggestion is praiseworthy:
It depends how strongly you lead
To sow for humanity a better seed
Life has given us all we need
But we have to make it prosperous
By doing a good deed (“Life”, Lines 7-8 & 11-13).
The third poem is also important in this context. In this poem also she throws light on the brighter side of life. It is full of courage and determination. She writes:
If the darker side injures me a bit
I’ll fight and conquer it
If somewhere fall when some dogs bark
I like to rise up to achieve my brighter side
After passing through the dark
(“Darker and Brighter Side of Life”, Lines 1-6).
She is concerned with global peace and prosperity that India is known for and reminds us about the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in peace building. She is worried about the ‘misunderstanding’ that causes destruction. Her child-like question is true in this complex situation of the modern world: “Why the answer to every misunderstanding /Is an attack …. / Why some countries always fight?” (“Attacks”, Lines 3-4 & 6).
The present world is not only marred by the unethical practices, the so called ‘modernity’ has created another world in the eyes of the poet. Besides the need of values in our society, she describes the misuse of technology, particularly, by the students. These days mobile phone has become a necessity for all. It has many advantages. During lockdown period due to Covid 19, when schools, colleges, universities and offices were closed, mobile phone played very important roles in studies and ‘work from home’. But the same mobile phone has many disadvantages when it is misused. It leads the young boys and girls to the wrong directions. In her poem, “Kids and Technology”, Ishika has well illustrated about the results of use and misuse of technology. On the one hand, technology is a great boon for humans, but on the other hand, it is very much disastrous.
Through her poems “Teachers”, “Respect Your Elders” and “Be Spiritual”, the poet has given her identity that even in this fast changing social order, values prove to be the backbone of every society. It is a value-system that gives knowledge about difference between virtue and vice, and use and misuse of anything. Realisation, be it of any kind, is important in one’s life. In the poem “Teachers”, Ishika, like an ideal student, notes that teachers create our personality. They become our friends at the time of needs and also ‘reformers’. Like teachers, she has respect for her elders who are best known for bringing positive changes in one’s behaviour (“Respect Your Elders”). It is value-system that engenders spiritual awakening. By spirituality she means “to make the lamp / Of your inner voice lit” (“Be Spiritual”, Lines 3-4). We find such notes in the poetry of first generation poets in Indian English writing, one of them is Rabindranath Tagore. He is also Ishika’s ideal.
There are many other poems worth noticing in this collection. These poems coming from a young mind need our appreciation in order to see more collections of poems coming out in near future to enrich Indian poetry in English. I recommend this book to the readers interested in enjoying poetry.