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Meeting Pradeep Saini inside his poems
This is not intended to be a conventional book review; instead, it is a heartfelt love letter addressed to my cherished poet: Pradeep Saini.
A few years ago, upon my initial encounter with a poem written by Pradeep Saini, I felt an intense urge within me to convey my emotional response to it through writing. Yet, true to the nature of exceptional poetry, it left me in a state of speechless admiration, rendering me incapable of doing anything other than sitting with the profound emotions it evoked.
I am a man of few words. It takes me days and days to write just a few words every day in order to write something substantial. The urge I felt to write to Pradeep Saini was an urge to pen a love letter to a poet who could evoke a plethora of emotions within my heart. Today, that longing has materialized. This is not intended to be a conventional book review; instead, it is a heartfelt love letter addressed to my cherished poet.
For some time now, your book, with its distinctive blue cover, has graced my desk, nestled among a multitude of others. Today, I finally turned its last page, and as I did, I realized that a significant transformation had occurred within me during these past few months of immersing myself in its pages.
One day, while seated on my balcony, engrossed in your book, raindrops descended from the trees and graced one of your poems. Initially, my heart sank, fearing that the book had become dampened. Yet, as I inspected the page, I discovered a beautiful serendipity – the poem upon which the rain had fallen contained these lines:
In that singular moment, I grasped the myriad meanings of rain. It seemed that, among all its interpretations, that day, the rain had descended solely for that poem. In reading your poetry, I came to understand that the act of reading and living poetry can intertwine seamlessly.
Throughout my journey within the pages of your book, I encountered many poems that I had previously crossed paths with and discovering them within your collection was akin to stumbling upon cherished memories.
At times, your verses made me feel as though you were observing me with unwavering trust, leaning forward with your elbows on the table, cradling your face in your hands, gazing directly at me. This trust had a profound impact, causing me to pause between lines, engaging in deep self-reflection.
In one of your poems, when you posed questions about your own recognition and contribution to the world, your words resonated deeply, evoking feelings of longing and self-doubt. As you contemplated whether your settled life, devoid of nomadic and adventurous journeys, might dull your ability to remain a poet for the masses, I could sense the suppressed inspiration and struggle surging to the surface within your mind. When you confessed that you take love and transmute it into poetry, concealing it like a secret sin, it felt like an authentic poet's revelation. Yet, in reality, it was more than a mere confession; it was a truth shared by every artist – a truth that is both a source of shame and a testament to honesty.
In your exploration of the world, your aversion to societal norms, your intellectual frustrations, and your growing discontent with materialism, you ultimately found your way back to the realm of poetry. Each time you questioned yourself, it was as if you were echoing the innermost thoughts of my own soul:
The art of writing poetry is, more often than not, an act of liberation, a means to unshackle our deepest emotions. The sensations of uncertainty and doubt are intrinsic to the artistic process. We pluck these from within us, tenderly nurturing and expanding them, weaving them into the very fabric of poetic verses.
In a world where humanity's virtues often flicker amidst the shadows of neglect, where the flaws of our social systems stand exposed, it is within the poet's realm that we find solace and illumination. Here, in your words, I discover a sanctuary where imperfection is not merely accepted but celebrated, and where the magic of poetry thrives as a beacon of authenticity.
You call grief, a pet – a phrase entirely novel, wholly philosophical. The loss of a loved one thrusts us into a profound encounter with grief, a complex and excruciating emotion that spans a wide spectrum of feelings. In some moments, an overpowering urge for retribution may consume us, seeking justice for their untimely departure. However, death, an abstract concept without a tangible form, remains elusive to our desires for vengeance. Consequently, we channel our anger towards the grief that accompanies loss rather than the loss itself. We attempt to suppress this anguish in the hope of eradicating it entirely, only to discover its indomitable nature. Grief refuses to be vanquished; instead, it transforms into a constant companion, akin to a cherished pet. Over time, we learn to coexist with it, gaining a semblance of control over its formidable influence.
One of your poems dares to confront the stark contradictions between acquired knowledge and the enduring plight of refugees in India, particularly within the Tibetan community. The piece titled "Suno Bhikshu / Listen Monk" poses profound questions, challenging the fervor of Tibetans in their quest to liberate their homeland. It fearlessly inquires how much humiliation, pain, and exile one must endure before the flames of revolution are ignited within. What significance does the Tibetan mantra hold if it fails to inspire the liberation of their homeland? If it distances someone from the poignant call of their native land, what kind of belief is that? This poem serves as an introspective call to navigate the profound inner struggle amidst the collective quest for personal development and freedom.
In a separate poem titled 'A Tibetan Girl in a Cyber Cafe,' you pose the same question to the young generation of Tibetan individuals.
Your poem 'Aazad Auratein / Free Women,' brought to my mind the widely circulated 'Bad-Girl' poster crafted by students from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru. This provocative artwork took a courageous stance by challenging the entrenched notion of a 'Bad Woman' ingrained in the collective consciousness of many Indians. The poster featured women in sarees boldly engaging in activities typically deemed 'improper' by societal standards, thus challenging traditional gender roles and expectations. It unveiled the contradictions within Indian culture, which both upheld and critiqued unrealistic gender norms. Through its clever and poignant panels, it shed light on the absurdity of condemning natural bodily features, such as breasts, as unforgivable transgressions.
In your poem, you delve even further into this theme, exploring its multifaceted dimensions and highlighting the glaring hypocrisy within our society. You shed light on the paradox of advocating for women's freedom while simultaneously viewing the flamboyance of liberated women as a transgression akin to a crime.
There are only a few poems I have discussed so far, and I could continue talking about the others. However, there is a book of poems that I have befriended, and I am afraid that it might unfriend me, for it desires to connect directly with its other readers. It longs to be read individually, by those with eyes that perceive things uniquely.
Each poem in your book reveals a Pradeep Saini deeply entwined with the intricate complexities of life. Your poetry resonates with a mindset marked by profound fluidity, an unwavering readiness for adaptation, and an insatiable thirst for transformation. It's as if, through the metaphors of water, rivers, the very pathways etched into the landscape of your life, and the vivid vignettes of the people you encounter, you extend an inviting hand to guide us on a contemplative journey.
Dear Poet, I have spent a considerable amount of time in the company of your poems, and they have served as a compass, leading me to recognize the concealed and enigmatic truths unfolding beneath the surface of our everyday lives. For that, I can't thank you enough.
With heartfelt gratitude,
For all of you, here are three remarkable poems by Pradeep Saini to relish: Three poems by Pradeep Saini
And for others who look forward to read more, here is the link to get a copy of his book : Duniya Ke Hone Ki Aawaz