Hope In The Midst Of Despair
Anguish, regret, remorse, pain are the emotions that run through Surendra Bhutani’s collection of poem, entitled “In Pursuit of Hope”. The title tells the readers that there is hope amidst despair, though there is little in his poems but despair. It is a collection of some eighty poems of varying length; some have three stanzas, some five, and the longest of nine stanzas, Mahabharta. After all the epic, the longest in the world had one lakh slokas; the author must do justice to the epic’s length.
A word about the author: Based in Warsaw where he teaches South Asian and Middle Easter Politics, he is a person of varied interests and passions. He is a product of the School of International Studies, commonly known as Sapru House, and has been a scholar of Middle Eastern Politics at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (Delhi), Bombay University and now at Warsaw.
Let’s read the words he uses to describe anguish:
Feeling awakard in my solitude
The whispers no longer sooth me
There is almost no one here
From my times of resentment
Sad words: “No one here from times of resentment’. You cannot share your resentment because there is no one to share it with.
Bhutani, the scholar of Middle Eastern Politics, has been deeply touched by the pain and the sufferings of the Arab people at the hands of Israelis and their allies, the Americans. But this is the area of the world that has seen wars, outright occupation of territories and in recent years terrorism. It is a land of woes, sufferings and death; sad yet it is the peoples of this land who have so little control over what happens there.
In the words of the poet:
We are now victims of
The political manipulation of fear
Our rulers constantly control
The circumstance of our lives.
There is helplessness of victims. Bhutani believes, and this has been my point of strong disagreement with him, that the victims are helpless. I think they can do a lot for themselves to come out of their present predicament.
His poetic sensibilities increasingly display European influence. This is somewhat strange, for he has been so well immersed in the Indian culture. He
has written several poems and shairis in Hindi or Urduised Hindi. I have seen him compose a shairi on a happening or recent event at the drop of a hat. Mostly they were terribly funny and raunchy.
His newly acquired European sensibilities must be synthesised with his sensibilities rooted in his culture. This collection of poems and his previous ones written in English mark a new creative venture.
By Bharat Wariavwalla