Dec 11, 2023
Dec 11, 2023
by P C K Prem
In a world of margins and imperfections, nature proves an ointment to intellects in search ‘of the invisible god’ with questions of identity ‘who I am’ which hang about minus unyielding response and these are questions her many lyrics ask. Relations she loves but then some kind of ambiguity haunts where human bonds are transient. Born in Himachal, Rama Gupta is a former Principal, who has been on the various bodies of the University involved in many educational activities like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and programs relating to disabled and physical challenged children and is now, a member of International Society of Karen Horney, USA, Soka Gakkai International, Japan and All India Women Association for Social Welfare and Citizen Council for Human Rights Chandigarh. She is a widely published poet with two books: Margaret At Wood -A Psychoanalytical Study, a collection of short stories Mirror Image (Prabhat Prakashan, Delhi -02, 2017), and a collection of poems Wheel of Life (Sterling Publishers, Delhi -29, 2020) and so continues the literary journey.
Poet’s fancies at times, work at varied angles and make certain revelations, which act as a mechanism to the understanding of mind and the ability of a person to find essence of life in a work of art. The poet in Rama Gupta takes birth in a phase of life when she confronted existential crisis and realized as if she had nothing to do and totally out of wits, ‘insecurity, fear and confusion’ engulfed after an active academic life. Feelings of inactivity or weariness often overwhelm a person after withdrawal from an active life she realized.
After a little indolence, she feels that world has much more to give now and as ‘the immensity of ocean’ enthralls her mind and heart, a realization dawns that what she observes outside is some revolution or perhaps renovation. The feelings and thoughts of ephemeral nature haunt and soon she recovers and feels life is opening up before her while nature helps to revitalize what was dormant and so the first lyric comes out in New Castle, Sydney and from here, she had not looked back.
The first poem ‘A letter from home’ is a poignant unfolding of a wife’s feelings, who writes of little incidents happening to a soldier husband serving somewhere in tough hill terrains. She hesitantly speaks of dusk, hills, cloudy sky, frosty night and also of many pleasant and yet agonizing familial chores. In loneliness, she suffers and feels lost in varied shadows of feelings. He reads loving words passionately, which will not materialize perhaps.
Life is strange and harsh,
I hear the music of the autumn
I reach down to pick up her envelop
The rose petals fall,
Smell of home … (A letter from home 1)
Traumatic and uncanny experiences instill fears in the heart of a woman, who finds her husband ‘threatened with serious illness.’ Marital life undergoes immense agony of potential uncertainty. At that time, nothing seems to offer conceivable reasons of inherent doubts, for at the earthly life, he is the fulcrum of existence. Unsure of future, questions of financial autonomy and ‘self retreat’ arise and also the necessity of breathing space. Now, everything appears still and so she lives in fears and threatening calls of future. Portrayal of mental anguish on the lethal sickness of beloved husband turns out ‘A Weird Journey’ in life.
Life is not easy to understand as its severity is revealed much later as one grows but the pleasure of struggle makes tough. No one really knows where one goes after it is over in the world. It is ultimately an emptiness that greets one at the end of life (Ah Human Life 7), for ‘The spirit walks in shadow /Its mysteries are never exposed/To the weak human eye.’ This question vexes throughout an inquisitive mind.
Understanding life is an enigma. A man wants to live with meaning but does not know and even great thinkers fail to go ahead as bewilderment stares. They may think of previous lives lived many a time maybe but know nothing even remotely with the intellect or psychoanalysis. One has to live life afresh to know and understand each minute because he has no access to earlier experiences and thoughts. Therefore, the questions about life ‘How do we know –what we want 33’ look fixedly unresolved, a mystery. In fact, a man has no control over choice of life and so the poet resignedly avers –
Even the right choice presents itself
Shrouded in uncertainty and doubt
We live everything as it comes, without warning
Ultimately, faith in the mystifying play continues and the man feels transient life blank and here, he recuperates soft ebullient tweets of birds and prays for light before ‘the lord of life’ 34 to chase away darkness and ‘illuminate’ ‘the self’ so that man may ‘sail through the river of life.’
Many a time, questions arise about the indistinct vision of existence because ego fails to merge with the psyche of man and society. Until a man blends in entirety with the cosmic spirit, it is appalling to find peace, conciliation and sense of withdrawal from routine conflicts man encounters as feelings of momentary survival torture. At that moment, when living turns excruciating, the poet finds that ‘eternal life exists beyond time and space that will ultimately, take an anguished heart ‘beyond sorrow.’
Another perspective on life makes it enjoyable but undefined hesitance registers its presence silently and out of stillness it conveys dreams of a bright future. ‘Live in- Relationship 31’ has it magic charm and thrills wordless while living in wildness beyond limitations where one participates in a bond exclusive and private. Just reflections without beginning but the representations are the beauty of elegant imaginings with simplicity of words: ‘You do not know me, but I do’ is a mystical phrase that leaves you in the center of confusion.
Everyone is in search of Happiness 26 throughout. In the beginning of career, a person deliberates and thinks of happiness and home. Security and money are essential to meet demands of home and joy and if one enjoys some good status and power, it adds to confidence and ability to translate dreams into realities, and all these acquisitions give immense excitement. However, these possessions are transitory and this way happiness proves elusive and brings moments of reckoning as you strive to attain status, work towards acquiring a house and rearing up broods and so on…along with joys, pains and challenges where one encounters struggles and lives through self-sacrificing experiences that afford rays of happiness. It is a futile attempt to seek happiness in extraneous mundane affairs of life. It is a feeling, a thought and a philosophy that resides within. It is within, the poet realizes at last.
Oh! I was looking for it everywhere,
When it lay so close to me
It was within me
It was not the destination
It was the partner of my journey.
In ‘Higher Consciousness’ the poet raises ‘the self’ from unexciting existential situation and wishes man to cut asunder knots of routine life perhaps, and live for others for consciousness within connects man to society and humankind rejecting limitations. When man thinks of beyond, he justifies the existence of true human spirit, for this proves expansive and open-minded and takes the man beyond the confines of arrogance, ego and pride. The poet asks us to believe that ‘…humanity is not fear, /Cynicism or aggression, / But always -love’ 29 because god finds man good when he descends on earth and protects the suffering from the retribution even gods administer to human beings and then, only the lord in human form comes to help.
In nature poems, she reveals rare sensitivity and not only creates an intense relationship with natural splendor but inspires everyone to get lost in the charm and magic of nature whether it is ‘At the Pond’s Lake or Clouds.’ Here one feels unique harmony and the yearning for the beyond it is as if you are elucidating a leaf from a scripture. When the poet speaks of the beyond, the transcendence, a feeling arises that–
All the soul’s secret thoughts
Seem to move towards
The animating and creative
Principle of the whole world: (Clouds 10)
In the natural world, she enjoys its infinite glory and feels the coming of unknown comfort but cannot tell precisely who is it. It is present imperceptibly in the rays of sun, in waves of ocean’s shores or something hidden in the tall deodar trees silently watching the play of divine love between the ‘invisible’ and the ‘visible’. Love for nature acts as a soothing balm for the person engaged in dreary worldly affairs which often dull vibrant spirits striving to rise high. The secreted love for nature bursts out enjoying realities of life even if it is brief.
I could feel your scented breathing
In the distant breath of the rain.
I could feel the force lifting me –
Captive of flesh,
Towards you. (Morning mountains range beyond Simla town 59)
However, in the dimness of truth, it is difficult to have glimpses of splendeur for it is sign of existence of the lord somewhere in the region of love undefined that one lives with, enjoys but fails to describe realistically though intellects speaks passably of a quaint situation - ‘In silence /The heart raves. /It utters words/ Meaningless 60’…and that is the dilemma one confronts when in love with nature and fails to fathom its intensity.
Blind faith of a section of people in a particular sect is not good for the society, for it hampers free growth and nurses feelings of extremism resulting in arson, anarchy and violence. It is realistically portrayed in ‘Darkest night in Panchkula’ and gives expression to social anxieties while in ‘Foetus Killing’ she laments over the killing of a foetus, a grave social stigma and a sin whereas ‘Love in a digital age’ is a reflection on love in contemporary context and its hazards and consequent failure in relation.
To grow old happily and elegantly is an art and one ought to know. Body weakens and one develops various kinds of ailments. It does not mean that one should resign to destiny. To live with hope and firmness makes everyone free from any apprehension particularly one’s sons and daughters, who are occupied in their own life’s concerns. It is not good to burden children and so, one should respect their feelings so that they live separately wherever they are, though the poet makes no hint (Growing old gracefully 25).
Without any apologies for my existence
It is an art one learns while living
Hours upon hours
Of deliberate practice
The silent agonies of old distress in the ‘The sunsets’ of life as apathy of relations begins to disturb and loneliness torments even as echoes of words unsaid continue to reverberate and revive nostalgic past as one looks inside and outside of life. Feelings of sickness and suffering overwhelm young men when they find no suitable job and so go to distant lands for livelihood, an usual happening in middle class households, “Nobody wants to know /Where I was / How I was / Now I am no longer here.” These presumptions prove anguishing and she finds –
The only sanity is this threshold
Only small communion with the master shore
Poems on nature exhibit grace but are non-judgmental in understanding, profundity and beauty. She is, at times, conversational and experiential and in the process of locating undefined affiliations with the natural world, she realizes unique fulfillment which is genuine and lasting it looks. Nature everywhere engulfs the poems with its magnificence and splendeur even when she is visiting other countries and the poetic narrative even if vague finds a spirit invisible that calms down inner agitation. It is an occasion to visit past and resurrect it to obtain unique contentment… and distantly the poet infuses hopes of a bright future.
More by : P C K Prem