In a world today, where a lot has taken place, a lot has changed, how to write poetry of humanity sometimes engages us as and when we think about or sit to write, taking poetry as world matter, humanistic concern, ecological issue, existential search, age-wise zeitgist, holistic healing, meditational solace, sensational stuff, text messaging, photographic reflection, landscapic penetration, ethnographic study, linguistic orientation, communicative telegraphy, historiographic observation and grappling with modern culture and its vibes. Leave it, when wrote you poetry whatever it touched you, catching your fancy and imagination and you could not cross the emotional level. There was a time when you used to think living within the borders, trespassing, and transgressing it never. But now when the world has shrunken into a global village and the means of conveyance and communication have changed drastically. How to take it to creative poetry, creative poetry writing in this age of media and publicity, self-propaganda, and promotion? Not only that the area of poetry too has broadened and so has its nature and scope. Which space to cut, which sphere to delve in, what it to clutch in as a value when we have commercialized all of our relations and have gone economic which are but the need of the hour? We are now the people of global villages and climate change is the talk of ours.
With the smart phone, I am taking my selfie, none but I myself the photographer of me and myself and ever ready to post it, upload it. The girl in the goggles smiling near the plaza, the shopping complex, the cine star so up-to-date, mod, gay and urban, the jazz musician playing, the solo guitarist performing, the folk artist so noisy and conventional, the disco jockey so hilarious, the anchor man anchoring, the pop singer taking the stage by storm and rage, the rapper rapping and the audience abuzz about, the chapel musician religious and ecclesiastical, how to write it about and to be inclusive of it all of the fast pace of our society and culture and its alternating times and tastes?
In this age of social media platforms, upload and download you, post and delete, if necessary, when the presses have gone bankrupt with the proof-readers gone missing, the cinema halls closed down, the radio, the tape recorder gone obsolete, what to say it more where bloggers keep us engaging with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatasApp? How to take to life when we have grown so much impatient and restless about and what it to write it about when we have left thinking about values and ideals? Now read we not, memorize we not. Everything but lies it stored in memory, something as deleted, something as archived, and it all depends on whether the files have corrupted or not. Now read we not in the libraries nor consult we books. Just Wikipedia is our solace. What can it be not searched on the Intranet? We just like to cut and paste, copy and recycle.
Man and machines, technology and advancement, engineering and construction, financial assistance and aid, travel and tourism, metros and airports, bus terminuses and traffic jams, flats and lifts, city life and urbanization, industry and waste dumps, industrialization, deforestation, poverty, unemployment and the search for better opportunities, this the tale of our life and living. How have the things changed drastically, how the shape of the things, how have the people and their life-style! How had we been, how are we now! This too is a point of reckoning. We used to struggle and labour all day long, but food, housing and cloth were not available to us. The wonders of science, how to take it? Science, engineering and technology? Think you about the mud houses burning during the hot summers with heat and humidity, the small huts without fans and lights and men sleeping on the muddy floor where the nightmares of scorpions and snakes used to malign the soul. Think of the hills allowing you not to cross over and for that you taking to miles to round it, the rivers in spate as for flash floods during the rainy days into the highlands and for that you are waiting for the waters to recede. Think you about the bridges over the rivers you would have just imagined, but they made it possible converting, translating the dreams into reality. The nation is not only of politicians and leaders, and they have not built it only. Think of the services rendered by the doctors, engineers, workers and so on.
Let us think of the time when we had not the mobile hand phone sets. At that I used to search you and you me when the need be. Have you forgotten the cholera, malaria wards? How had it been the spells of smallpox, typhoid, viral fever, malaria, plague? Malaria used to wipe out the families so used to plague the villages. There was a time of the cinema halls, but the same got closed when the computers and the VCDs made a way into, when the television came upon the scene. The radio too lost its lustre. The typewriter too turned defunct. We used to write with the nib pens filling with ink by the dropper. But the ball point pens dismantled them completely from the safety point of view. The landscapes used to be hilly, wooded and secluded with a litter of villages and small towns, but this too changed with urbanization and the people started leaving villages for the developing towns. We used to spend so much on the repair of old watches and were unable to purchase. For marking time, we used to see the rising sun, the setting sun, the moon and the stars. Where will all have Swiss watches? The man-pulled rickshaws and the horse-drawn carriages used to transport us locally wherever the bazaar areas had been. We had to go for miles when alighting from the bus at some awkward location to reach the villages crossing woodlands and hills, fearing ghosts and goblins. India had been mostly of villages and the country. Towns and cities developed during the British period. People used to live in mud houses, hutments with nothing to sleep on wooden cots, but on date leaf mats. Most of them used to go half-fed, half-clothed which is but the history of India and this I know it barring all that one says about it.
Now-a-days man fears the dogs, the morning walkers, the stray dogs following you as for being the stranger, barking at, making you afraid of or ready to bite you. The jackals too have started them fearing and calling them boss as these can be found moving around human habitations as for food rather than the jungles bereft of animals and birds. Natural forests have been cleared almost. Even the marshes are filled and water bodies depleting. The fishing cats are depleting, the howling jackals are in danger together with the water hens. The numbers of the blue birds have fallen. As the number of the thatched houses, the straw-thatched cottages or mud houses has lessened so the number of house sparrows has fallen miserably.
The India of Paglets and pagletgiri; how was it? How brutal was it the Sati system? Was it not a Brahminical excess? Was it not inhuman? Was it for foreign invasion of India? Why was there the system of child marriage? How did we treat women and widows? How has the dowry system jolted us? How long will it domestic violence keep marauding us? We were against crossing over the saat samudras and as a result of it those who crossed over faced the social boycott here in India.
There was a time of thugs, Indian thugs waiting on the way to snatch your things. The robbers used to get the messages sent across, we are coming, we are coming. Turbaned and masked they used to come Indian robbers, we mean dacoits, in dhoti and kurta, pagadi and towel, they used to come with the sardar asking for the key from the head of the family.
How to clone the cheetah? How to save the vultures? How to look after the kites? How to save the mountain ranges and the foothills? How to count the wild trees? How had it been the habitats of the peacocks? The natural forests are diminishing. The hanumans and red-mouthed monkeys are on the roads, dependent on man and his food. The geographical faces are changing. The elephant herds are driven mindlessly from this place to that. The history of Calcutta, how was it? The history of Bombay, how were the islands when were separate? How has the NASA helped in relocating and restructuring our history and mythical base while traversing the course of the Saraswati and telling about the Ram Setu?
How has corona impacted us? How was life during the corona period? The pre-corona period and then post-corona period, how to explain them? The start of the virus and the spread of it worldwide, turning into not an epidemic, but a pandemic, taking a toll heavily upon mankind, affecting and infecting the masses with a protocol of its own. How the train services were suspended, how were the public conveyances? How were the masks regulated? How the norms of social distancing and isolation, physical distancing made mandatory? How was importance given on health and hygiene? The places were sanitized. Those with lesser immunity fell a prey to and struggled brutally to live. Covid hospitals with lesser presence tell a lot about lonely and deserted with the patients coming in ambulances and going. How the plastic covered people tell a tale of life? How the stand-alone burials and disposals? Where was one born, where one cremated? Who to be with at the time of burial? Who to hear the wills and dying declarations? How to get the messages sent across to the family? Hug you not, touch you not. Come you not closer. Shake you not the hands. Keep clean. Wash your hands. How did we miss people? How did the bodies fall it? How to help mankind, suffering humanity? The hospital scenes of Italy, Spain and others are really heart-rending to see, the patients waiting in lines, homes bereft of members for the fall of the misfortune and the doctors struggling, giving their lives. But still during the corona period we saw the truck drivers driving during the night time too risking their lives.
A small kamini tree but scattered with the kamini blossoms, white, fragrant and dew-laden may charm anyone who looks it. Similar is the case of the seuli tree strewn with the tiny seuli blooms so fragrant and sweetly-scanted and the morning is the time to see its beauty. The golden champaks, white gandharajas and beautiful kanchanars can move anyone whoever sees them. The jaruls or gulhmohars blooming during the summertime can strike anyone. What more to say about rajanigandha sticks and beli blooms? Have you marked the beauty of calendulas, lilies, balsams, daisies, daffodils, petunias, zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, poppies, chrysanthemums. The foreign flowers too remind us of foreign blondes and beauties. Have you seen the airhostesses? But exploit them not. The Tik Tok heroines have changed the definition of cinematography and drama studies. Have we ever inducted in Naga, Assamese, Mizo, Sikkimese heroines? Why could we not appreciate beauty in Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur? The beauty of the palash blooms, you do not know it, how ornate, clustered and florid is it in essence. Yellow bells (tecoma stans) in bunches look very lovelier. The oleanders too charm us with their loveliness.
When we see the red vanda flower, the heart leaps up with joy on seeing them lying by the roadside growing into the woods or the bushes and the people not aware of their exotic beauty and grandeur. The raatrani trees with the blooms madden the passers-by with redolence and strong smell. Blue bell-shaped aparajitas for Shiva, yellow ones for Krishna and red hibiscuses for Kali, how to describe it? The bluish lilies remind us of the worship of Rama. Shiva too likes it datura blooms, yakand flower beads and rudraksha beads. How do the poor gypsy girls so clumsily dressed living under the tents by the roadside clutching across the pink idols of Siddhidayak Vinayaka go for a sale on the eve of Ganesha Chaturthi door to door. The pink lilies too are admirable to see. A small pond full of white lilies, storks and the cows grazing side by side in the nearby marshy land. These are but pictures and images. The cactus too blooms. An Indian bride in sholah shringaras and the red Benarasi silken sari, bedecked and bespangled, satin-brocaded, who would not like to see her?
But often have we turned to Nature and its gifts as for comfort, solace, peace, tranquillity, joy and pleasure. How have the hills and their ranges shining under sunlight? How do the clouds hang over during Shravana? How do the cuckoos sing sweetly from the bowers? How does the hilly rivulet flow in between the hills? The blue birds flapping their wings during the winter at dawn break have always eluded us. How do the kites circle up above marking the small creatures from there to land and catch by its beak? How do the flocks of house sparrows fly away? There was a time when we used to see the sparrows chirping around us. There was a time when we used to fear in crossing the lonely fields and fallows as for to reach country homes far from the roadside.
How have the times changed? How have men and their times? How the situations of life? We remember how the asses were abandoned by their masters when the washing machines came into existence, and we saw the poor animals dying in harness. How the racing horses were left on the roads? How the circus animals were dislodged? It does not matter what the animal rights activist does it for politics. There is something right and something wrong in their version and vision. The Tiger Temple has virtues and vices both. Who can control a tiger? Say you? Can you dare tame a tiger? Where the porcupines which I once saw them sadly while passing through the foothills? The forests are almost bereft of animals. The deer are no longer. We used to feel it bad when the vultures were found to be unable to fly. But there was none to whom we could say to. The vultures used to rest on the branches of the naked and leaflessly standing simul trees, but full of blossoms during the spring. Sometimes we used to see them labouring on the carcass of the dead animals into the fields by the roadside and sometimes sitting atop the hillocks.
Where is the peepul tree under which Buddha got enlightened? Where did he hear the musicians instructing him otherwise about the Middle Path? Where did Mahavira? Which way the Chinese Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang take to in reaching India and searching the places of Buddhist pilgrimage? Why is Kanishka headless? Who to say about Kailash? Why did Ladakh remain cut off for a long time? How the yaks of it? The Himalayan ranges, snow-capped peaks, glaciers descending and the origin of the rivers, how to take into our kaleidoscope?
A poem can be about anything that you love and like or remember it. Can it be not about Rajdoot, Bullet, Yezdi motorcycles, can it be not about Lambretta, Vespa scooters, can it be not about Padmini, Fiat, Contessa, Chevrolet, Willys-Overland cars? Favre-Leuba watches, have you forgotten them? Philips, Murphy company radios, we still remember them. Times change, but memories do not. During our darker times when the electric facility was not enough, the battery torches used to serve marvellously. A few had it then. How were our days when the villages were not connected with roads? We had not the oil lamps too to burn. Do not talk about kerosene. Have you forgotten Raleigh and Sunbeam company cycles which our guardians used to have it then? We used to school on foot sometimes even without a tiffin box.
A poem can be about religion, spirituality, theology, metaphysics and philosophy. It all depends on what one learns, takes to, understands or wants to take to. It may be about your visit to sacred spots or about religious experiences . Can it be not about Mahakumbha? The Triveni Sangama where the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati meet it? How the waters of Mansarovar, the swans flying above, floating into the waters? How Kailash seen from Mansarovar? What the tale behind the finding of Amarnath? How the Himalayan peaks and the tales of mountaineers, explorers and climbers? What do the local people and the folks say it about? Where the Kabirpanthis? How the ghats of Benares resounding with Vedic and Upanishadic chants and prayers? Where Vrindavan? Is it golden really? Who to say about the prem of Mira? And how did we take to? What did she get for her Krishnabhakti? Say you? We suspected her, misunderstood her love. This is the world. The Vaishno Devi, how the statue of the Mother? How the paths leading to? The Naga sadhus where do they come from during the Kumbh Mela and where do they go away? What the tale behind the Cchinnamasta Kali? Why did She do it? Where Kapil Muni Ashrama? How the tales of the Sagar sons and the washing away of sins? Kalbhaiarava, what do you know about it? How the image of Kalpurusha? The Spirit, Spectre of Time? Whose is this shadowed presence? The asthi-kalasha keeps hanging by the riverbanks from a tree branch. The ashes tell of the body cremated and the story finished. The panda-dana ceremony has already been done for the bereaved soul. But who to say where man goes after his death? The bela tree with its leaves and wooden fruits reminds us of Shiva taking us to a herbal domain of delving. How can the statues of Vishnu and avatars can be found from the riverbeds? The bronze Naga God can be from the riverbed. This is India. From the debris of the dilapidating terracotta temples the golden statues of Radha and Krishna seated on a flute and with a flute flanking each other can be found which but the diggers’ pleasure. How the Buddhist viharas, ancient excavation sites? Can Kalady say about Shankaracharya? Has it seen the great seer passing? How Nagarjuna’s philosophy? How did Bhartrihari turn into a renouncer? The philosophy of Maya, the philosophy of Nirguna, how to put it? The bunyan tree reminds us of the matted Indian sadhus. Why is Shiva Nilkantha, what the mystery behind His neck being blue? Shivalinga, what the mystery of the stone?
How to select the topics for poems? When you see a red rose, you feel it within to express the feelings and sentiments of your heart. The bulbuls making the baby eat into the beak or singing sweet notes can charm you. When you see a snow owl, you may feel inspired to write on. The black cow and the black cat and the black dog may take you otherwise. The rhesus monkey taking the lotus to eat from the hands of the devotee at Tarapith Temple may take you by surprise. Where the bhalluwallah, the bear man? Where his black bears? Where the monkey showman? Where his red-mouthed small monkeys? Do not jail the showmen just for believing the animal activists. A herd of camels taking green grass may be the thing of your poetic inspiration. You may feel spirited to write when you see a herd of sheep grazing during the wintertime twilight and the sun retreating and the sheep bleating it sometimes. When something hurts you or inspires you, you want to write, you feel the urge within to put down on paper, when something jolts you for an expression and you cannot resist that. The small-small cows returning from the fields with the goats and sheep at twilight with the bells tinkling and tied round the necks, breaking the lull of the landscape may also be pleasing to the ear as well as the eyes. Someone passing through, leaping and going and overtaking you may appal, strike you speechlessly and dumb founded when you cross over the secluded or the forested tracks. In the country the rustics have feared in passing by the banyan and the peepul tree studding with spooky tales. Sometimes the palm trees engaged them with the leaves shaken by the stranger birds nestling thereon. At that time of suspense and fear it is none but the God of the Woods used to bail out of psychological crisis. Even now there are some sacred spots under the shadow of the hills to revere and worship.
The mystery of the stars we know it not, what the mythical secrets of their twinkles filling with astonishment and wonder? What to say about the aliens landing? Was there life on Mars? How to say it? The tiny glow worms, how do they keep glowing and glimmering? We do not know it. The grassy kash blooms remind us of the ripening and greying of beards, hair and moustache with the time passing by. Sometimes do they give the picture of the white clouds floating into the skies. A statue of Radha and Krishna can also be the point of deliberation. What more to say about Ghanashyam, the Blue Boy of Brindaban? How do the gypsies make the idols of Ganesha so beautifully artistic and colourful?
Can you tell about the temple-builders of India? How were the rock-built temples made? Who made them and when? What more do you about the mahouts, the elephant trainers of India? Can you about the ancient universities, Taxashila, Vikramshila, Nalanda and so on? How the dwellings and their peripheries? What do we about the great sadhakas of India? How the tradition of the Naga sadhus? An Ayuvedist talking about the goodness of trifala churna, awla, bahera and haritika, how to explain it? The foreign invasions, loot and plunder of India, the lightless darker periods of history so full of illiteracy and ignorance, how to describe it what it ailed our society? How was nationalism born? How did the country awake it? But even in the midst of plenty there had been poverty. The tales of hunger did the rounds so did it backwardness, lethargy, inaction, fatalism and superstition. Black magic and witchcraft engaged us badly for quite a long time. Bharat ki garib bitia, how to tell your tale? How to the tale of your woe and tribulation, suppression and oppression; toning down of your liberties? India’s poor daughter, how to tell of your struggle and suffering? How gender bias and inequality maligned you?