Book Review: Monsoon
Monsoon: A Poem of Love and Longing
By Abhay K
The poem is not only a rain drenched missive of love, but also a homage to bountiful nature and the vibrant culture of the Indian subcontinent. The references to the monsoon Palace of Udaipur, Anup Talao at Fatehpur Sikri where Tansen would beckon the rains with Raga Megh Malhar, Deeg Palace near Bharatpur with its nine hundred fountains et al adds to the romantic monsoon milieu and also brings alive a history immersed in and connected strongly with a monsoon ethos. The Wise Owl Team reviews this book.
A Rain Drenched Missive of Love & Longing
The romance of the monsoon has inspired writers to pen verse from times immemorial. The ‘nayika’ waiting expectantly for her beloved and pining for him as the monsoon rains deepen the ache of ‘viyog’ or loneliness, is a common theme in the poetry of old Indian masters of verse. Kalidasa’s ‘Meghduta’ seeks out the cloud messenger to send a message of love to his beloved in the mythical city of Alkapuri. Inspired by Meghduta, Abhay K, a contemporary master poet invokes the benediction of the rain gods and exhorts the monsoon to carry a message of love and longing from the island of Madagascar, where the monsoon is born, to the Himalayas in Kashmir, where his beloved resides.
lovesick and far away from my beloved,
I beseech you to take my message to her
along with amorous squeals of Vasa parrots,
reverberating songs of Indri Indri
This long poem of love and longing pulsates with a mix of mystic love and ardour. On the one hand there is the deep-seated desire of the poet to send his beloved the sights, sounds and aromas of the island of Madagascar ‘redolent of vanilla cloves’ and ‘herbs of various kinds.’ On the other hand, is the visceral craving of a lover who expresses his ardour through the imagery of ‘lemurs feasting on Baobab flowers’, ‘Vasa parrots courting their mates’ and ‘painted butterflies fluttering over fresh blossoms.’ In fact, the entire poem is adorned with images of a resplendent nature that refresh and at the same time offer a languorous, almost seductive ambience. The poet journeys along with the monsoon, ‘a primeval traveller from the sea’ that glides over the Indian Ocean ‘gently caressing her curvaceous body’, gorges on the ‘rich Mauritian sun’ and inhales the aroma of the perfumed spices of Zanzibar. The reader lightly treads the path with the poet as the monsoon moves through the ‘bustling streets of Colombo,’ the ‘white sands of Andaman’ or enters the sensuous Sunderbans or sprinkles ‘rain elixir on the sacred Bodhi tree.’ The journey is not over yet. The monsoon, whether a light shower or a drizzle or an unstoppable cascade, takes the reader to the cities of Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaipur, Delhi, Chandigarh and finally to the ‘famed valley, the paradise on Earth, the sweet home of my beloved’, Srinagar. The poet implores the monsoon to give his beloved the message that ‘each moment of my life is submersed in her colours’ and bring back ‘her perfumed breath and sweet words’ to Madagascar. The poem ends where it started, although the parched yearning of the beginning has now converted to a satiation, albeit long-distance:
I wake up with your thoughts
your fragrance reaching me
all the way from the Himalayas
to the island of Madagascar
The poem is not only a rain drenched missive of love, but also a homage to bountiful nature and the vibrant culture of the Indian subcontinent. The references to the monsoon Palace of Udaipur, Anup Talao at Fatehpur Sikri where Tansen would beckon the rains with Raga Megh Malhar, Deeg Palace near Bharatpur with its nine hundred fountains et al adds to the romantic monsoon milieu and also brings alive a history immersed in and connected strongly with a monsoon ethos. The poem written in the ‘rubai’ tradition’ of Omar Khayyam, with its 150 quatrains in free verse is a delightful read where the reader feasts on sights, sounds and aromas that the poet has masterfully and effortlessly stroked across the canvas of his poem. Magical and lyrical at the same time.