Across Social Wilds (A Woman’s Poetic Perception) by Rita Malhotra, New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers, 2010, ISBN- 978-81-908259-6-2, Price-200/-

Rita Malhotra’s poetry stands alone in the arena of IWE because she does-not write with the singular idea of feminism or issues of Gender only; she writes dipping her pen in the ink of philosophy, worldly wisdom, social realism and other contemporary pleasures and pains of common men. Being mathematician cum poet, she remains calculative and exact in her observation, but never confined to any ‘formulated phrase’. Her poetry is imaginative, ‘vibrant’, ‘multi-focused’ and even ‘kaleidoscopic’ in tone and texture. A widely recognized, awarded, translated and anthologized in diverse poetry books, Rita has represented India in many conferences in the overseas too. She has three books of poetry published and she has also translated few poets in English. The present collection Across Social wilds sub-titled as ‘A Women’s Poetic Perception’ should not again be mistaken to be a book of feministic poetry; rather, the collection carries poems on mixed themes of both subjective and objective nature. The first poem ‘springtime in poetry land’ wafts a fresh air of poetic imagery and symbolism to its readers when one pores over-

the poetry-cart enters

the lazy township of words

on wheels of time

scatter, sleepy words

strangers to each other

poetry coaxes, cajoles

and be friends them. (15)

And when one reads the last line- ‘the poetry –cart becomes a caravan’, one naturally feels that the caravan of poetry has set in very magnificently. The collection is an additional volume that makes us feel again that Rita is a poet of diverse moods viz. memories, melancholy, nostalgia, reflections, love and eternal philosophy of life and death.

Poems like ‘raksha bandhan (93), ‘sari 1’ (30), ‘sari 2’ (320), ‘durga pooja’ (34), and ‘mumbai’ (73) bespeak of poet’s indianness which is ‘Oblivious of time’s course (Like Sari) ‘remains the essence of all seasons, style/ and splendor ‘(32) but unfortunately these ancient traditions and festivity of sacred festival (like Raksha Bandhan) is ‘snapped’ and the significance of rituals is ‘disrupted’ (93). She prognosticates the future and even satirizes that-

man’s greed works overtime

and perhaps would soon capture

the glory of death

in the “Michel Jackson” rakhi

the coming festive season

to defeat the very essence of

tradition, rituals, ceremony.  (93)

The philosophical poems like ‘thoughts from beyond oceans’ (41), ‘questions (40)’, ‘looking inward’, ‘final journey’ (95), ‘light eternal’ (89), ‘diary’ (71), ‘time’ (63) and ‘death is lighter than life’ (54) seek to establish that though; ‘tear-heavy eyes/mirror everyday shackles/of life’s miseries’/’the alert mind buried under shadow of despair/pines for the other world in its effort to silence life.’ (54). Rita goes even more sanguine and asserts:

Neither body nor mind

Not even the soul            

Wince under the weight               

Of lifelessness

For death is lighter than life. (54)

Rita is well aware of time that ‘remains unsheathed/through the cycle/of birth, death. (63), and also its heeling power when- ‘time shall weed out a hurts/ as it glides past the wounds/ that nest within! (59) She admits the superpower of love-when she, in a dialogue of night and day, says out laud:

night and day in love wishes

join hands and urge

let love, petals bloom each night

through every , every gold charged day

—————————–

let love’s stallions race through nights

and through breathless streets of day. (45)

Some of poems of the anthology are subjective yet their beauty and charm never seems to have subject to any law of diminishing return. The poem ‘silence’ is one a few instances in this regard in which the protagonist forbids to ‘disturb the silence’ in the absence of its lover that ‘has piled up on’ poet’s ‘books of verse’ ‘resonant with the past’. The poet continues is a fresher manner:

do-not step in please

till this silence

hidden behind words

learns to speak again

till, it learns to speak again. (58)

A few poems like ‘we are secular’ (66), ‘hiv positive’ (65), ‘mumbai (73), ‘caste’ (75), ‘global warming (77), ‘tourist guide’ (91), ‘gangrape’ (19), ‘call girl’ (21) etc. are the poems of social reality in which the reader can experience author concern for various social causes of nation and the world. Hence, the long and short of my earlier observation hints that the present book of Rita Malhotra is worth-reading and re-reading and assures the readers that they will surely find delight with the reflective and imaginative outpourings of the poet. Amen!

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