Heartbeats of Silence, A Collection of Poems By O. P. Arora, Published by Gurugram: The Poetry Society of India, ISBN-978-93-83888-82-5.

Blessed with a rich treasury of experiences, and paired with vast teachings and great learning and scholarship, O. P. Arora has been writing for over decades but his sincere and dedicated attitude and penchant and learning towards poetry writing has never been dimmed a bit. He is a solo singer of his own kind. The present collection Heartbeats of Silence is now the sixth collection of poems. Besides this, O. P. has also five books of fiction to his credit.

Regarding the poetic content and craftsmanship O. P. needs no introduction. Also, his poetry needs no advocacy of primal critical push up by critics and his recognition also well-acknowledged among the selected poetry lovers. The poems of the collection Heartbeats of Silence is actually a brief yet beautiful electrocardiographic report of emotive Heart of a veteran social conscious poet. The collection carries some sixty two poems chiefly spiritual and socio- political theme. The poet has a spiritual and optimistic heart that arches at the painful and unjust happenings of the world. He is the man who believes that, “No boundaries, no barriers, no borders/ the entire universe of my dwelling place.” He is a cosmopolitan thinker who finds a universal unity in all objects. He says in the first poem of the collection:

            I am in everyone, in you too

            In the twinkling of the stars, milky way too.

            We all bathe in the cosmic energy

            Poor or the rich, devil or the clergy.

            Nature, bountiful blesses with both kinds, eternally

            Only man, ungrateful devours and belches poison perennially.” (1)

According to the poet, who are ‘shortsighted’ or ‘ignorant’ fail to see or experience this celestial unity and ‘magnificence’ and finally he adds in the poem aright:

            If you expand, your soul lives in eternal bliss

            If you shrink, your heart starves to kiss”. (2)

In another poem, “That Day” the poet experiences his self merging into divine self of Lord Shiva. He writes:

                        I closed my eyes

                        Found my Is

                        Merging in Shiva’s tresses…

                        That day

                        The Ganga in me

                        Me in the Ganga… (5)

Like a true empiricist poet, he believes in testing in mundane and divine phenomenon of life. And with a skill gift of craftsmanship, he writes:

                        Wrapped in love

                        Immersed in love

                        Drowned in love

                        I became love… (9)

Experiencing the miracle of love, he feels himself ‘thrilled by its incarnation’ and his soul swing ‘like a gypsy/ springing / jumping/ hopping /like a monkey.’ (9) The spring of love changes the world around the poet in O. P. He adds:

                        A smile of ecstasy

                        Playing upon my lips

                        A glow of sweet serenity

                        Flushing upon my face

                        A nerve wrecking excitement

                        Licking my whole body. (9)

Though like love, pain affects the human psyche differently. To him, pain ‘writes those wrinkles/ like the fresh leaves on a tree’. Pain is ‘all possessive, like godly light’ and it ‘strikes’ like ‘lightening’. It is kaleidoscopic.

                        Different colours, various shades

                        Pain takes myriad shapes

                        Pleasure transient, starry rainbow

                        Pain eternal, dark, haunting shadow

                        Like the eternal, incomprehensible, mysterious universe. (11)

To him, both the good and the evil co-exist and the clash of the both is continuum. O. P. writes:

                        The tiger and the deer

                        As Iago and Othello

                        Both exist

                        In nature.

                        The fight has raged on

                         Since the dawn.” (12)

Ever since the dawn of civilization, man is grappling with elemental forces. At times, ‘Satan’ succeeds and ‘evil triumphs’ and ‘God’ watches all this ‘helplessly’. At traumatic times, even God has become spectator and he watches:

                        God has watched helplessly…

                        Ever since Adam’s fall

                        He has wondered

                        How far man could fall…

                        Everyday

                        Seems he has reached the nadir

                        And yet

                        He goes further down

                        Deep into the abyss…” (12)

Castism, religionalism, Holiganism, fanaticism, communalism, political upheaval, decline of moral canons, distinction on the basis of caste and class, atrocities on women, poor, dalits and children, violence of multiple types and other socio-political and economical themes weave the canvas of O. P.s poetry. The urban poet opines that man has been fighting ever since his/her own creation. The tragedy of human life is as such narrated so well in ‘Life’s Aches’.

                        Life’s aches

                        No one escapes

                        Everybody in the end

                        Inevitably breaks

                        Sooner or later

                        May be, it takes different shapes. (23)

Modern man/ woman doesn’t want to get entangled in any kind of shackles of tradition, morality or values. He is perfect follower of Charvak and cries out:

                        Who the hell wants Liberation

                        The earth so lovely

                        Beauty all around, what a fascination

                        But their infra mantra, their mystic transportation. (25)

In the poem ‘They Decide’ the poet points out the forces that are invisibly deciding the fate of the people. From the diet, exercise, love -bite, wears tears, friends, brands to mobiles, clothes, love-partners and lot more. Even the questions of personal lives are decided by these forces:

                        Why should I marry and slave

                        When I have lonely partners coming on date

                        They go back in the morning

                        Don’t create rukus every evening…

Being an observant of social incidents happening over the global platform, the poet has delineated the post 9/11 scenario in the poem ‘Twine Towers’ of U.S. ‘The great champion of Human Rights’ turns to a ‘psychotic’. For poet, it was not just a crash of two towers; it was a ‘Crash of Civilization’. In another poem ‘Refugees’ the poet mirrors the plight of refugees:

                        Forced to flee -their homes

                        Driven to survive the doves

                        Fear behind them, fear ahead of home,

                        Infants wailing in their tired arms

                        Starving bellies consoling their kids’ hunger pangs. (48)

The poet highlights the fanatic attitude of human beings who turn beast out of frenzy and human tater commits brutal and atrocious activities:

                        How easy it is to kill…

                        Formed by the fanatic pills

                        Provoked by the social ills

                        A young man fixes a ball in the grills

                        Pieces of innocent folks fly around

                        Blood of different faiths mingles unbound… (48)

Despite all such thick and thin, the poet’s outlook is never pessimistic. He is full of positive vibes and hopeful of new down. The dark night of gloom will be over someday. He writes:

                        Tomorrow/there will be a new down

                        A new era

                        Democracy will win

                        Autocracy will be buried.

                        Sea of humanity

                        Would write the fate

                        Everybody said.

                        Fear/stalked thee state (62)

Besides, the collection carries many beautiful nature poems like ‘Kose Garden’, ‘Over There’, ‘I Walked Through ‘The Forest’ and ‘As I More Away’. The poems exhibit poet’s deep sense of observation and his unmixed love for natural elements. The poet has deliberately added these nature poems in the end of the book so that the readers, after perusing the heavy and thoughtful poems, feel afresh and rejuvenated in the hum-drum of life.

Hence, the collection Heartbeats of Silence opens a creative author’s decades long musings as a sincere observer of social, economical, political, philosophical and moral issues that have constituted the warp and woofs of civilization. Readers will enjoy reading these poems as they will experience the visualization of their own pains and pleasures in creative manner.

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