Saturday, 25 February 2012

Why I am a poet

BRAJESWARI Raaikishori
Aamaai dayaa karla naa
Aamaar sanger sangi sabaai gelo
Aamaar jaowa holo naa… 

Bishnupriya Manipuri poet, Champalal Sinha, traces the origins of his poetic consciousness.

Champalal Sinha

CULTIVATION of poetry, study of poetry, service to the nation, society and the like are all that my life is exactly about. I am still alive because I was attracted to all these virtues at the right age. Many a cyclone of distress, shock and penury blew over my head, and keeps blowing even now; but against all odds, I am indifferent and unshaken only by virtue of my cultivation of poetry, study of poetry, and service to the nation and society. Among all these, cultivation and study of poetry inspire me the most to be resolutely self-confident.

The study of any branch of literature shows one the right path of life, gives immense pleasure, inspires one to work and leads towards light. However, no other branch of literature can be a parallel to poetry in providing one with the pleasure of creation, awakening in him a sense towards his work or duty, and making him rich in metaphysical wisdom, which is why poetry is the origin of any literature in the world. Though I was inspired immensely to write poetry by the melodious songs of Ojha Senarup (a poet and singer of repute), I was attracted to poetry since childhood. My Baba (papa), more often than not, read out and sang the poems of Rabindranath Tagore, Nazrul Islam, Jogindranath Sarkar, Rajanikanta Sen, Kusumkumari, Priyangbada, Mankumari and others. He also sang the songs of the Azad Hind Fauj and that of the Swadeshi Movement. Baba was blessed with a melodious voice, and was enviably skilled in the art of tune, note, measure, speed, ascend, descend, and such other nitty-gritties of songs and music. That way, if I say that his name Surasingh or Surachandra is significant enough, it will in no way be an exaggeration.

It was a Friday in 1966/67. It was my birthday. After his catnap in the afternoon, Baba washed his face and sat on a low floor stool on the verandah. He yawned and stretched. I was lying prone on a cot near the left side of the door, and reading. “Master, fill a hookah of tobacco, and give me. Where is your mom?” Baba said, and yawned again. Baba used to call me master, fondly. I filled a hookah with tobacco and handed over the hubble-bubble to him. “Fan it with your mouth till smoke comes out,” Baba said, and started to hum a
song, that, after a while, came out in a free-flowing voice —

Aamaar saadh naa mitilo, aashaa naa purilo,
Sakali phuraaye jaai maa…

(My desire remained unfulfilled, hopes remained unmet, Mother (Shakti), let me go exhausting all)

The lyrics of the song, its sentiment, meaning, Baba’s sweet voice, the sweetness of the tune and the accurate maintenance of musical note, time and measure kept me spellbound within moments, and an imaginary world started to engross me.

Tears kept dripping down Baba’s cheeks, and he was wiping them out while puffing the hubble-bubble. He started another song —

Brajeswari Raaikishori
Aamaai dayaa karla naa
Aamaar sanger sangi sabaai gelo
Aamaar jaowa holo naa…

(Radharani of Brajabrindavan has not been generous on me. While all my colleagues have got her blessings, and departed, I have got stuck)

Tears kept dripping down his cheeks.

Baba was a man of a contemplative turn of mind. He was too emotional. I have inherited a great deal of his emotion and sentimentalism and perhaps that could have been the true inspirations which inclined me towards poetry.

Be that as it may, I shut the book remembering that, since my mother was not around, it was my duty to offer Baba a cup of tea. I rushed to the hearth, ignited the fire from paddy husks kept nearby as firelighters and put the kettle over it.

The remnant of the song, on the other hand, kept humming in my ears. I was filtering tea with a wire mesh.

“Master, where does the smoke come from?”
Baba asked me.
“I’m preparing tea,” I responded.

“Hari, Hari! (Oh God! Dear me!) As if my throat is wet. Bring it soon. I have to go to the front hamlet. I have something important there.” Baba left for the hamlet after taking tea. Baba is no more, but his sweet voice still overflows on the verandah, the yard and the entire house. Wherever I tread, I hear his sweet voice that still touches me. Why will I not be a poet?! Why will I not write poems!

I am not immortal
Like everyone else,
What will I leave behind
As my parting gifts?
Who knows
when will the void
A shedding flower leaves
On the branch be filled?
I know not who my heir is,
Or would be.
As heirloom, I have only
My unfulfilled wishes,
Pen, papers, rivers,
Canals, streams, the sky,
Factories, machines,
protests, agitation,
Love, affection,
And the entire world.
I will take my lethargy
With me, of course.
Oh, my ‘heir’,
Have you born, or not?
I am waiting for you,
Day in, day out.

Courtesy: Seven Sisters Post (www.sevensisterspost)
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