Dwelling with Denial by Rajiv Khandelwal
The Poetry Society of India, Gurugram (Haryana), in 2020,
with a Foreword by PCK Prem, pp 129, priced at INR 320.
Rajiv Khandelwal is a well-educated and truly educated Indian English Poet, an engineer and a flourishing businessman, has created an enviable space in the Modern Indian English Poetry and he has been well-received and well-read and well-reviewed by the general readers and the eminent scholars here and there. His poems in all his collections weave a pattern of beautiful diverse images, comparisons, similes, metaphors for the lively and interesting expression of his genuine love for humanity engaged in daily life. The poet has not used any mark of punctuation anywhere in his poems from the beginning to the end, of course consciously, and that is a poetic symbol of the ceaseless and unobstructed flow of Life in the abundant wealth of diversity of his poetic world. This is conscious experiment in the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” or an engineer-poet’s play with the language of poetry to be a trend-setter, is difficult to say but, surely, it is sophistication of the sophisticated in Rajiv Khandelwal who fondly enjoys the sophistication of life with an appreciable liberality. This is added beauty of the content and spirit of his poetry well-crafted on personal, social, political, economic, romantic and literary issues in celebration and all wrapped in universality with love and aesthetics inimitably touched by humor, sympathy, satirical digs and hits free from ill-will and malice, human passion and compassion to convince that poetry is meant for the bliss and beauty of life.
This poetry collection, Dwelling with Denial, has 75 poems, absolutely modern reviewed and previewed by well-known scholars and critics breathing freshness of the breezes and airs or even slow storms. A notable feature of this poetry collection is that Rajiv tries to be a theorist in poetry without meaning to define or discuss the purpose and function and arranging the clutter of thoughts, emotions and ideas admittedly without appropriate words, images, similes or metaphors- all in arranged flow of the structure and syntax to make a poem or poems for the “anticipated readers” and “their hypothetical needs and desires” that satisfy the “hungers of the poet’s communion” and the poem survives well “with its intellectual waves.” Such poems with no marks of punctuation- free verse, prosaic, lacking rhythmic tenderness in forced yearning to communicate become the poet’s creative power and artistic acumen. Poem in the Poet’s Palm, Poem in the Being, Poem and the Poet, A successful Poet, the Surviving Poem, Poem-the Arrival, Poem Arrives Naturally, Poem Composing Itself, Poem’s Claim to Lucidity- all these poems at the end of this collection give a new turn to the poetic flow. Rajiv is very honest and unassuming in ”Poem and the Poet” wherein we learn about the delivery pains of the poet who is not well-acquainted with language and vocabulary and still struggling to make sense of the non-sense, succeeding in obscurity leaving it to the reader. The poet says -
“Off and on, even after much cajoling
Words do not visit
Surprisingly, even refuse to crawl
Similes and metaphors
Do not express
And alliteration goes astray
Scoffing at the poet’s sound-nonsense
Clamoring for attention
The poem declines to end
Like toddler-mother’s daily battle.”
– Poem and the Poet, p 96
However, the reader may not be despaired with this intellectual roughness devoid of emotions as there are very many poems that soothe and solace us to smile at and with the beauty and tenderness of daily life, we all live through. Rajiv is tenderly sensitive to love, happiness, sadness, sorrow, pain and suffering, sympathy and empathy, and he does his artistic best to create the poetic environment for celebration with his humanity. We appreciate his wide awareness of the needs, desires, happenings and events on the infinite canvas of LIFE! Petition, Puja, To the Pilots Who Visited Balakot, Thank You, Wandering Thoughts, Critical Comments, Pleasure, Destination etc.- awaken the reader to his interest. In some of these poems, Rajiv uses an admirable poetic tact of giving a frank expression to his genuine emotions like religious rituals for business, military warfare, medical failure, existing without political shelter, his turns and twists to the happenings from home to the national borders and everyday movement of life in family, business and politics with subtle strokes. “Honey, I am Dead”, “The Debt” also rouse our interest.
These poems are honest eloquent statements on what constitutes the essence of life today under diverse and distressing conditions and circumstances. The Debt is a poem of excruciating pain, misery, humiliation and life-in-death endured by those who live under the terror of debt-payments and fail to rid or liberate themselves from this cruel bondage of the trap facing violence, coercion and intimidation. The poet has a deep eye and sensitive concern in such a situation that crushes human rights and humanity. Hence Dwelling with Denial!
The poet deserves to be congratulated for his sensitivity in this age of insensitivity in lending poetic grace and beauty to life with all the finesse, festivity and freshness in trash! Burdens of legacy inherited in life are a forced inescapable obligation to dwell with denial. The poet is daringly yet submissively conscious of the persistent demands of human life haunting for three generations and still managing hard the dignity of occasions and ceremonies. A Dilemma, Dear Mate, Tensions, Union, Guilty, Call You Later, Teasers, Job Trackers, When She Is Around, The Sun Will Never Set, The Suckables, Happy Birthday Son-in-Law, Her Hands, Resume, Lynch Faith, Love Wriggles, An Unplanned Visit, Leave some Words Unsaid, My Darling, Try Missing Me- these poems also introduce the unfailing sense of modernity and humanity in Rajiv, the poet! His poems addressed to his beloved wife and other relations also add to the interest and delight of the reader.
In a nutshell, it can be said that Rajiv’s Dwelling with Denial is one of the finest contributions to the fast-expanding domain of Modern Indian English Poetry! I’m sure it will enhance and enlighten the reader’s delight, longer than he can expect!