This one has been writing itself a long long long time Since about March this year! I hesitate to call it a review; let’s just say it is my perspective of Shail Mohan’s debut publication, an Anthology of her verse, titled “Love, Loss & Acceptance“.
“March??” you say, almost horrified that I attempt such a task all of nearly six months later! Ahem. Errrmmm… yes. I hang my head in utter despondency. You see, I did so want to do it earlier, but well… I got busy with stuff. All kinds of stuff that terrify teachers at the end of School year, and stuff that terrify parents when their offspring is about to get married. You do get the picture don’t you? My excuse is watertight!
Sigh. No, it really isn’t. But we’ll let that be, won’t we Shail? I know you understand, and that is what matters finally!
Disclaimer: This is not a book review . I don’t do book reviews, because I really do not know how to! I give them as assignments, and am impressed by the kids who do it so easily But me? I’m terrified of them. So please do not take me to task over the mechanics or format of the genre ok? This here is intensely personal
Alert: This is going to be a LONG post. Be warned
“Love Loss & Acceptance” by Shail Mohan is a collection of her verse. It has three sections, one each for Love, Loss and Acceptance. About 58 poems in all
It has that touch-it-as-tangible-as-it-can-get sense of achivement for anyone, who has dreams to peddle, muses to satisfy, who revels in the myriad expressions of the one emotion that encompasses all – Love; whose acceptance takes one beyond life; whose loss is perhaps the ultimate in agony that borders on an ecstasy.
Right from her little verse to her muse:
Each flower, each leaf
all the prickly thorns
I lay at your feet,
with the same emotion
of a love celestial…
her offering is so unconditional, so complete, and you know right then, you are in for a treat!
Having been an “English” student through B.A., and subsequent courses, and even now as a supposed Teacher (learner more like it ) I’ve been fascinated by poetry more than prose; the way poets string emotions, intangibles, and thread them, weave them with such dexterity and honesty – to tell a truth, or embellish a lie. No, contrary to the norm that in order to appreciate poetry you need to have an in depth knowledge of the form, from Chaucer, to perhaps Bob Dylan, or even Eminem, one need not be (and I must confess that I am NOT) a “well-read” person, not in that sense! I love what experiences any verse gives. And I say all of this to underscore what Shail’s verse means to me. I love the way she thinks (the way I see how she thinks, ie! ), how she transforms her thoughts into the tangible quality of her verse – and makes it as delicious and palatable, allowing us to gorge on it, as “Melted Chocolate” ! (Page 20). That one has to rate as of my favourites in the book! You do actually melt into a puddle of sheer mush and chocolate! Loverrrly!
On a different tangent, there is the déjà vu I sense, most times in her verse: this on “From Afar”
Who are you stranger?
Have we met before?
Why does it seem
I have known you since long?
And when I read “The knot“, I am overcome by a chill. Still, that too is Love!
And the poignant note continues, this time staccato as well, in “You“. Love hurts, and heals.
“Sand in my shoes” is a perfect fairytale – one that plays out each day, I know, for a lot of peope! I so so so love this poem! You must absolutely read that one, if you haven’t, yet! (Psssst… go and get the book, asap, if you haven’t, from here:
It’s worth it! )
And there is more: “Dreams“. Sigh.
“Stolen Moments” Sigh. Again. (a few new lines/into an old story,/already published...)
The last poem in this section “Ultimate Freedom” (Love), is perhaps the most touching of all, for me. Love is there, limitless, yet bound and finite – what more can suffocate? It is a bitter sweet reminder that love is passionate, it is warm, but is also possessive, and seeks to bind.
Where there is love, you can be sure loss or heartbreak enters the picture sooner than later, writes Shail. There are twenty different ways in which she portrays the utter loss of, sometimes, a feeling, a person, a negation of all that has been, of love, in what ever form it had chosen to be…
The coldness of loss sets in right from the strange sadness that envelops one with the first of the poems here, “The Search“, searching for the reason, and not finding it! Loss, isn’t that how it is?
And then the pain pours out through “Echoes“, showing its tenacity in the next poem, “Frail Spontaniety“. ”Captive Love” is yet another, where utter loss just does not let you be!
Aren’t we always promised so much by Love? And while many do get most of it, somewhere down the line, the hand that held yours, suddenly slips slips away! You walk the way, alone. “I have been there before“, that is what it speaks to me of.
“The Wilted bloom“, along with the theme of Love goes on to consistent form in verse: a noun+verb combination in each line. And that too, without seeming unnatural! No mean feat that!
When pain gets very intense, it becomes deadweight and frozen. “Frozen Tears“, quite starkly brings one this experience.
When a person writes in the first person “I”, a reader tends to make assumptions and then is intrigued by possibilities! So also with “Don’t Come Closer” – I know I connect so very much with this poem!
Acceptance most times is indeterminate in its honesty. Sometimes you do accept because you have no choice. Sometimes, because you understand. Sometimes because you want to, and move on. The many overtones of that one ability is what Shail brings to us here. There is poignancy, there is despair too, but there is an honesty in all of the verse here that touches deep. The pleasure that love has been, and though now not there, still there exists an optimism in meeting with Love again. “Broken Bits” speaks that way, to me.
My love, please tread softly
Don’t step on them harshly
The broken fragments carry
Dreams I held closely.
And “Baubles” , precious notions strung together! In “Time to go” I find again, the pain and the acceptance of the loss:
though I still love you so
and it breaks my heart
it is now time to go
There is gentleness too; the quiet hush that cloaks a steely pain- how easy it is to leave another bereft. And how endless is the pain even in its acceptance! “Beneath the tree (acceptance)“:
Beneath the tree
by the gently flowing river
Where you left me to move on
I stand my love…
As with any kind of savouring, I have left the best for last. My absolute favourite in the entire collection has to be this one: THE DREAM PEDDLER. And that is why I have appropriated its title into the title of this post too. This poem literally, figuratively comes alive all shimmer and gossamer texture, sweet and sad, in its brilliant concept itself!
As always, Shail is stickler for a good proof read copy, and this book is that, right through. Her sense of rhyme is impeccable, and natural. Choice of words, perfect again! I know she can take any set of three random words, and in an instant weave a verse for you to enjoy. Metaphors and similes, not to mention vivid imagery, these are her fine tuning tools! Such is her talent. Such is she
For me, Shail is a dream peddler I have said so, in the introduction to the book I was asked to write. I am deeply honoured by that Shail, and I do want you to know that, yet again . Thank you too, for a personally autographed copy! That is one to treasure always! The first book I have, personally autographed by its writer It’s already 1400 words long, but then, WT heck, I’ve got a disclaimer in place; and I had a wonderful time writing it out too… a lot of it scribbles with pencil and paper, on writing pad, and her book itself, and some that came pouring out of the keystrokes
Thank you Shail! And now I am looking forward to your book of short stories! That promises to be just as, if not more wondrous!
14 September 2012