I am a poet!
I am going to indulge in some self-congratulation; please bear with me.
It has been one and a half years since my collection of poems, ‘Signs of Love’ came out as a book. Whoever condescended to read the poems have made appreciative utterances; I am happy enough. But I wanted someone else other than my friends, who have no other reason to pat my back and have some authority, to critically view the book and comment on it. I had sent the MS to a few acquaintances who are Professors of English. Maybe due to their preoccupation I am sure, they never deigned to reply.
The first indication that what I wrote was not trash came from the publisher himself, Prof P Lal. Then, at the function that included the formal release of the book, Prof. Hridayakumari, the highly respected teacher of English but known for her brevity, praised the collection at length. It dawned to me then that I could be a poet after all.
I hadn’t sent the book for reviews to any magazines. Those friends in the related circles didn’t offer any help either. Unsold, un-gifted, the remaining copies gather fungus in my shelf. Then, the former editor of Indian Literature, the bi-monthly journal of Sahitya Akademi who is slightly known to me, came to hear about the book and asked me over phone to send a couple of copies to the Akademi for review. That was nearly a year ago. Having never heard from him since, a couple of weeks back I reluctantly wrote to him asking if he could ever read it. He immediately replied that a review had appeared in the Jan-Feb 2010 issue of the journal and that he has asked someone to send me a copy. It reached me today.
Reading the review at my office, a loud whoop! escaped my lips. Is he writing about MY poems? It is an excellent review and Mr.Anoop Verma is generous in his praise. Indian Literature is highly regarded in the literary circles; to be spoken of in such glowing terms is like getting a Nobel Prize! I call K and P and tell the good news. I send off messages to a few friends who have encouraged me to write poems. I am thrilled. I understand the indescribable joy in being recognized for one’s efforts. I feel like Miss World or Miss Universe – that is, I felt so till half an hour ago when a close friend called on me.
I run down the steps to meet him. Grinning from ear to ear I tell him the happy news; I have the journal with me. He says, good, great. We spend nearly half an hour together, drinking lemon juice and purchasing a particular kind of bag he needed. We talk about his forthcoming trip, about the new laptop he bought, about Mac and Windows, about other friends and then bid goodbye. All the time I have the thick journal with me; I grip to it. By the time he was about to leave, I was wondering how I could hide it; I tuck it under my left arm. We say goodbye. I had hoped he’d say, Oh Balan, let me see the review and maybe at least scan through the two humble pages. I am sure he wasn’t being unkind; quite likely he was too preoccupied with his affairs.
The initial flood of elation has subsided. I am at peace. I re-read the review. I laugh at myself. How silly of me, to expect others to share my joy at the same degree! At least he said great. I ought to be content with that. I am wise enough not to feel ill towards him. Of course, I am disappointed, but hell, I don’t mind, honest.
At 53, I feel like a novice in the business of living. I am forever in a Kindergarten; like an innocent child, I look around at the world wide-eyed. Like a child, I dimple when someone says how cute you are. But I am old – and wise – not to sulk like a child who is robbed of his toys or – ignored.
I reflect on the times when good things happened to those whom I love, whom I know; even those whom I dislike. I am happy with myself that I have always been able to genuinely share their pleasure and never felt jealous or never ignored or played down their happiness. I realize that more than a poet, I am a decent guy!
****** Balachandran V,