Sunday, 24 August 2014

BOOK REVIEW - WHERE EVEN PRESENT IS ANCIENT: BENARAS.




The Blurb

Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras is a book that seeks to tell the little stories that make us who we are. The author believes that Benaras resides in all of us Indians, in some beautiful often-unknown way. The author is the Sutradhar, in that she attempts to connect an India that many do not realize exists, in that it is everybody’s story. Radha, Krishna, Ganga, Benaras and Me are all characters in this deluge of poems. This attempt at telling the story of the ancient, of love and of faith is to instil the confidence that poetry exists in all of us, everywhere, all that is needed is to smell its fragrance. To those outside India, the book does not seek to be a representation of what India is or was, but a whiff of what it also can be. It is an attempt to ask people to see the little stories that govern all of our lives, stories that we often don’t see, but those that are important. The audience for this book might be strewn across the globe, for faith is not religion-centric, it is people- centric and often without dimensions. In poetry there is no beginning, no middle, nor no end. Like faith it is everywhere, it is omnipresent. The book affords no answers, nor no questions, but if you listen and read carefully you will see new things, a new beauty perhaps, one that has been silent so long.


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My Review
“Where I end, Ganga begins.”

Poetry is the heart of the poet, the soul that feels and that which is revealed in the poems of the poet.

I wish I could pick up one or two poems and say that they really touched my heart. But how can I be biased? Every poem has a persona of its own; a life with touches you in a way that you can only be awed.

Benaras is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, referred to the holy capital of India (Wikipedia)

Benaras is a stage and the road often an inspiration.”

The poet has found inspiration is every wall, every tree and every person in this city. She seems to have walked through this city at every odd hour. She has written poems about how Benaras looks at 1 am, 3 am and at 5 am.

“Beauty somehow lies scattered,
Helpless prisoner of time,
I bend to pick up a poem,
The lines somewhere mixed
In the new dung and sacrament of the old.”

Benaras is a city of death and of life too. These two are so infused that it is difficult to tell them apart.

First man, then flesh
Then the mesh of dead meat.
Dust settles soon
On dust.”

This is the city where both life and death exist in perfect harmony, each accepting the other without questions.

“The fluidity of the masses,
Drunk as if with Dharma
Finding a present in their ancient
Rituals of living,
With those of the dead.”

“While son bargains on chandanwood price,
The Purohit chews on the fragrance of Benaras.”

The city is also about Ganga, about the faith, our religious history, myths, beliefs and the people who live there, of people who come there for some sort of salvation, people who are a part of the old and the new.

“You touch a wall
Shiva grows in your hand.”

“God and man
In him, they are one.”

Ganga is the confluence of both, life and death. The ashes of the dead are immersed in her and the living immerses themselves to rid of their sins.

In her I feel the dead and
Those alive….”

Maitreyee has brought out the beauty, the reality, the ugly, the everyday life, the sights and the smells alive with her keen observation.

“And then the Ganga flowed…
Faith, thou’ art a bitch!”

Rating – 5/5

About the Author
 

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Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a web columnist and creative writer. She is author of Reflections on My India, a book of Indian traditions and spirituality in parts. Maitreyee is also author of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen- Bengali Cinema’s First Couple and Ichhe Holo Tai, a bilingual muti media presentation of poetry. Maitreyee is featured amongst other Indian writers such as Gulzar, Shashi Tharoor and Deepti Naval in an anthology of Indian writers Celebrating India.


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4 comments:

  1. Congratulations! It a great review and I look forward to reading the book.
    Great going.

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  2. Janaki, I agree with you about all the poems being amazing. I just fell in love with the lines and the place, she writes beautifully. Loved your review.

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