Of Bades and Darlings

Perhasps it is the style du jour that makes Whispering Mind such a pleasure to read. There is nothing whimsical or sly about the poems, which seem to shun the idea of repressed emotions that can build up and fester in the mind; the focus is on narrating a love story that is universal in scope and timeless in its appeal. The lines are light and quick rather than ponderous and self-occupied. Babe and Darling, the material incarnations of Yin and Yang, are a couple who can’t live without each other, they have to go from excess to excess, travel across different corners of the globe, and partake of the local cultures and issues. Their love is portrayed through poetic conceits and matching melodies, and at some point of time it turns introspective, so that instead of journeying through landscapes, Babe and Darling explore emotions, or the meaning of relationships, or the “intense feeling experienced by the heart, mind and soul.”

Like any classical poet, K.P. Shashidharan appears reluctant to expend more words than he has to; the poems flow along extremely precise lines that echo a catalogue of emotional themes, which can be considered to be a part and parcel of contemporary living. There is no mention of the illusions of childhood, of family, and of the world, the poems have their own internal logic of focusing completely on concrete reality. The Theme One begins with these words “Amazing shadesemerge when life passes through the prism of experience. Life is short to have all experiences.” These lines might as well be taken as an expression of the book’s leitmotif. As Bade and Darling take their large journeys across myriad landscapes and through the sea of emotions, they observe and learn from the experience of other.

The tallest structure stood
Known for beautiful rendition to artistry
Engineering genius
An overriding hallucination
Vision, ecstasy, dream suspended
Never before in the horizon
Since the Stone Age man
Came out of his cave!

The above quoted lovely lines are inspired by a vision of world’s tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa. Not many poets would like to find anything poetic in a tall skyscraper, but Shashidharan is capable of peering inside the highest windows, as if it were someone else’s dollhouse. Once they have satiated their voyeuristic tendencies in one place, Babe and Darling move on, to a next destination where they can partake of new insights and experience Considering the equality of attention that Shashidharan imbues into every culture or landscape, it would be easy for his work to fall into a sort of literature that draws its leitmotif from the idea of melting away of national boundaries in an era of globalization. But that might not be the case. He is only interested in observing, without ever being judgemental about anything.

We’ve more fun sometimes
Sleeping crawling in pipelines
If we don’t get sleep at night
When road gets empty
We enjoy seeing
Mom and dad smiling
Whispering something really good!

The second part of the book, the Theme Two, carries the title Rainbow of Love, and begins with the line, “The Rainbow hues of love are fascinating!” The poems out here dwell on the numerous shades of relationships ranging from paternity, maternity and fraternity to passion and lust. The technique in use is the one that bends everyday words and phrases to force readers into seeing the usual anew. There is a careful interplay of sound, punctuation, and avant-garde terminology, and the real message lies beyond what the literary meanings of the words might indicate. The poems may also evoke the idea that they speadk autobiographically, but this is a poet who prefers the mask of Babe and Darling. At times the mask may seem ironic, nevertheless it is necessary to create the feeling of a magical poetic paradise, replete with magnificent sounds and images.

We searched the globe
Day in day out
Web chatting
‘Orkuting,’ Skyping
Blogging, Face Booking’
And Twittering!
Internet made us finally lovers
Though living
On the two sides of the globe!

When they have explored the welter of emotions that exists outside as well as inside their soul and mind, Babe and Darling are ready to make a journey towards awareness, enlightenment and bliss. In the third section of the book, the Theme Three, Shashidharan delivers poetry that is rather spiritual and philosophical. Desire is not necessarily redemptive; the vagaries of myriad experiences have driven the two protagonists, who personify Yin and yang, in a life of separation. They now live away from each other, as they quest for spiritualism. Instead of being overtly focussed on individual cultures, they are capable of looking at the world holistically. They are filled with a desire to question and search not just the exterior world, but also their own minds.

On Planet Earth
Where man is at war
With his benevolent
Mother Nature herself!

At a certain level the poems seem to present the issues plaguing an individual who is torn between faith and realism – he is unable to embrace faith, and yet his intense  experiences of nature do not let him dismiss it. Whispering Mind is an evocative book; it is laced with enough contemporariness to be truly pertinent and entertaining; the imaginary landscapes and the emotional conundrums are simply dazzling. Other than the beauty of the verbal music, what’s special and unique about this collection of poems is the assuredness with which shashidharan describes the journey of Yin and Yang. This is a book that deserves to be a part of every poetry lover’s collection.

By: Anoop Verma


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