NAME OF THE BOOK : WHERE EVEN THE PRESENT IS ANCIENT
NAME OF THE AUTHOR : MAITREYEE B CHOWDHURY
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.
MY RATING : 3
MY REVIEW :
‘Poem ‘ is perhaps the most difficult genre to review. A poem is very innate to its creator; it travels from heart to heart and settles where it belongs to. It carries the voice of the poet, deriving words from her experiences, her inner feelings and her wish fulfillments and desires, unknown to all. It is neither the reader’s fault, nor the poet’s fault if the poem fails to make an impression on the reader. Drawing from these thoughts, I would like to say, WHERE EVEN THE PRESENT IS ANCIENT : BENARAS by Maitreyee B Chowdhury has been a pleasant journey for me.
The poet connects the city of Benaras with our soul, giving it a different dimension, as she says ,
‘Sometimes Benaras seems like a poem,
A long lost one, at that .”
The depiction of Shiva drawing imageries from various sources, and inclusion of Vaishnav ideals enriches the poetry with a universal aura. I found it pretty interesting as the poet wrote ,
“I returned, with Hare Rama in my ears,
And filth in my eyes”.
The poet endows a different way of worshipping the God, sometimes she is his beloved and sometimes she is the bard. She mentions ‘ Kirtan ‘ , a typical Vaishnav ritual in her poems, blurring the lines of multiple ‘godhood’.
Maitreyee B Chowdhury has done justice to the theme she has chosen, by mentioning the terms in footnotes. It would have helped a reader, alien to our Indian culture , more, if she had described what is a ‘linga ‘ like other points. The other thing I didn’t like was the depiction of the poor. Including some ‘happy moments ‘ could have been better. But it is the poet’s individual choice and I am just expressing my ‘ personal opinion’. I enjoyed the universalism, the theme of love, devotion which binds everyone of us , as we share similar emotions and feelings towards one god, be it Shiva, or Allah or Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
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.