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Abounding in Imagery


Nishat Zaidi

PROMISE: A LIFE
By Ranjani Neriya
Virgin Leaf Books, Mumbai, 2013, pp. 99, Rs. 95.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 12 December 2014

I am the dispensable primate the blueprint of my promise in irreparable shreds. I search on  to husk riddle peel white throb on raging nucleus, a touch and I shall glissade into  sun-gold smithereens. These lines from the opening poem, titled ‘Episcope’, instantly give the reader a sense of richness of words and images that the volume under review abounds in. Poem after poem, Ranjani Neriya weaves an intricate tapestry of myriad images, metaphors and vivid visual verse pictures in a tirelessly flowing stream of sonorous sounds and fecund expressions. In the process, like any other craftsman, she chisels idioms and phrases that continue to resonate in one’s mind long after one has put down the book. Sample this: ‘at the pool of allophones, float/a petal-sloop with a two-leaved sail/and watch a real toad hop away.’ (p. 92). Similarly, the use of evocative metaphors in the poem titled ‘Mother Teresa,’ is worth quoting: ‘of uncommon mould/her fingers weave/soft looms of light,/in maimed corridors/dungeons of pain’ (p. 41). Promise: A Life is Ranjani Neriya’s second published volume. Her first collection, BATIK was published in 1994. Born in the coastal town of Mangalore, 78-year old Ranjani Neriya had her first poem published in The Illustrated Weekly of India when she was all of 19. And she is said to have begun writing poems even earlier. Since, the poet has not provided the dates when these poems were published in literary journals or written, and one has not yet had the opportunity to read her first anthology, it is very difficult to delineate how she has matured and evolved as a poet over the years. However, her poems do exhibit a certain level of maturity in thought and expression.  64 poems of the volume are divided into four sections, which despite being untitled, do appear to be organized in four thematic clusters. They configure the poetic self through shifting moods of attachment and detachment, keen observation and deep emotions, through a realistic inventory of images and an artistic transmutation of those images into intricate metaphors of life. Poems in the first section reconstruct the poetic self through memory, nostalgia and a longing for the lost world of childhood. As the poet reminisces her childhood days in rural settings of her ‘tiled roof’ ancestral house, one may almost smell the ‘grassy breath of animal hide,’ hear the ‘rustle of saris’ of ...


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