Samarthya by ShashiPrakash Saini
A small self published book of Hindi poems by a Kashi resident comes to me for review and I tell the poet that it is not easy to review poems and I might fail. As I saw the Devnagari script, I picked it up and quickly read it over a few sessions, as it would not be justified to read poetry in one go.
I liked the poetic way in which the poet has described himself on the back cover. Like every poet there are a couple of dominant themes in Saini’s writing – lost love or absence of love, yearning for the life of childhood and a question on the emptiness of modern occupation. It is not easy to do a critical analysis of poetry so here is what I liked from the book:
His first poem on Kashi is nice but I thought he could have brought in many more hues of this multi-faceted city, but then may be he is yet to explore it to that extent. Hifaazat ki keemat Azadi se chukka rahe hai – he says this in the context of his home walls but I think this is so true for the world in general, where for your safety you are giving up your freedom. Mandhbuddhi Engineer or the Dumb Engineer talks about the fate of many engineers working in the modern day industries that require them to have engineering degrees but hardly have any use of them. Main Chalne ke liye bana tha, main ud na saka – again echoes the curtailing of a sense of independence – where one is forced to walk and not allowed to fly. In the title poem Samarthya, poet is challenging himself to live a life worth living. I liked the way he describes poetry – Kalamkar hun kalam chalata hun, Zindagi ki bhhati pe jazbaat jalata hun. Bhhati is a constant metaphor that he uses to describe various situations as if the fire in the metaphor is a symbol of getting lost or getting refined. I liked the poem ‘Apni Dor Sambhaliye’ where he has used the metaphor of kites very beautifully.
There is an attempt to address social issues like dowry and rape and of current issues like consumerism. There is nostalgia of the village from childhood of the rail trips and life in general. I found his romantic or personal poetry quite average, something that anyone can write when they are going through emotional ups and downs. There is longing for a mate. There is a pain of rejection but nothing that brings in any insights into the human behavior or psyche.
Take your pick.
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