Of Blood and Tears | Shafey Kidwai



Arun Dev’s collection of poems not only brings out the incongruities of life with a sense of satire but also gives a unique perspective to the poetic persona of Malik Mohammed Jaisi through a short poem.

Awe-inspiring creative exuberance at times produces maudlin and curious public perception but whatever is stashed away in the collective consciousness bristles with unmapped terrain of truth. It can only be brought to light by creative reasoning and this is what a short poem on the celebrated Oudhi poet Malik Mohammad Jaisi wraps up.

The poem composed by talented young Hindi poet Arun Dev whose collection of poems “Koi Jagah to Ho” (There must be a space) won him Maithli Sharan Gupt national honour, revisits the popular belief about the author of trail-blazing romantic epic “Padmawat”. The poet endorses the popular perception as Jaisi’s ground-breaking long poem “Padmawat” is nothing but a full throated cry against the arrogance of the power that be:

Aiysa kaha jata hain ki apne ant samay mein Malik Mohammad Jaisi Bagh mein badal gaiye the/ Agar theekh se padhen Padmavat to usme bhi yeh dahar sunai parti hai/ Satta ke ahankar par ek kavi ki dahar/

Tr. It is said that Malik Mohammad Jaisi transmitted himself into a Tiger during his last days /If Padmawat is read carefully, its roar becomes audible / It is the poet’s cry against the arrogance of the establishment.

Arun Dev through multiple focalisation offers a unique perceptive to jog our memory about Jaisi, the icon of Oudhi poetry, and turns attention to the unanswered questions related to the poetic persona of the poet. For him Jaisi’s creative dexterity enabled him to portray the spiritual side of the life of desire with cadence. His poetry peels away the layers of ignominy that he had felt at having found his unprepossessing appearance the object of sheer ridicule but his poetry got widespread adulation even from the jeering crowd:

Soulhivin Shatabi ke sufi Jaisi ke kurup pe hasne wale/ Unko sun kar rone lagte thhe /Unki kavita rakt aur ansu se likhi gai thi

Tr. The people who scoff at the unsightly appearance of Jaisi, the sufi poet of the sixteen century/ start crying their eyes out/ His poetry is made up of blood and tears.

Arun Dev whose two collections of poems including “Koi to Jagah to Ho” (These must be a space) to his credit, recited poems in the North East and Northern writers meet organised by the Sahitya Academy recently. His another poem “Is samay mein” (At this time) repudiates the dominant narrative of our time that draws its sustenance from religious identity and nationalism. With his penetrating irony the poet muses on a situation shaped by the insensitive contemporary society that fills the narrator of the poem with despair and bewilderment:

Cheezen Nahin Ho Rahin Har Pal/ Dharmo Mein Kisi Trarah Ke Badlaw Ki Koi Technic Nahin Hain Hamare pas/ Har Doosra Admi ya to Kufr Hai/Hai Ya Desh Drohi

Tr. Things are not changing every moment/ We do not have any technique to change the religion/Every other person is either infidel or traitor.

In one of his refreshingly evocative and nuanced poem ‘Voiceless’ the young poet who edits a reputed literary web magazine ‘Somalochna’ initiates a dialogue between nature and man that takes place at the level of voice and sound. The poet concludes that crying too has natural disposition but if one decides to weep soundlessly then we must understand that the time has come to raise voice against all pervading decline and decay. The poet is completely lost to realise that universal truths and emancipatory ideologies have ceased to exist. The threat of an indissoluble uniformity produces in him a strong sense of dejection.

Arun Dev’s poems “Chahat” (Love) “Rafi Ke liaye Ek Sham” (An evening dedicated to Mohammad Rafi) and “Vigyapan Aur Istri” (Advertisement and woman) try to encapsulate the vicissitude of contemporary life and narrator of the poems strives for going beyond the familiar reality to come to grips with the ever changing social values. Usurpation of values by cross commercialism sets in motion weird euphoria that produces plenty of darkness.

Arun Dev eschews long-winded description and concentrates on polarization of sensitivity that resists stifling harmonization. The poet’s poems shun every streak of self-indulgence, sentimentalism and quick witted responses wrapped in statements and for him usual staid props seem to be some sort of anathema. His poem exhorts us to rely on visual senses more than the analytical sense. Arun Dev’s poetry acquaints us to a parallel reality in which there is no trace of fusion of emotive content His pungent sarcasm hardly recedes into self pity and his many poems are endowed with a marked sense of love when is gradually waning as a central motif of the poetry. Arun Dev’s poems betray a rare ability to fathom human psyche that stomachs the incongruities of life with a sense of satire. For him poetry is the only means of much desired redemption.

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Shafey Kidwai

Professor of Journalism at Aligarh Muslim University
Prof. Shafey Kidwai is Chairman of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Aligarh Muslim University. He has been teaching Mass Communication for 30 years. His regular column on culture and literature appears in The Hindu.

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