HYDERABAD: Hindustan, decades after Partition, which saw, perhaps, the largest human exodus recorded in the human history, is in pain again: bleeding, writhing, squirming. Its sky is dusted with saffron, which sees the right wing fundamentalists imposing fascism in the country with mob lynching, killing in His name, beef ban, absurd regulations against cattle slaughter-trade, the draconian demonetization and the worst of all, erasure of history from textbooks! Light is forcefully being turned to darkness what Faiz Ahmed Faiz may have called ‘daagh daagh ujaala…’.
And this is the time when pens turn rebels, words volcano and wordsmiths torchbearers of revolution which is wrapped in a curtain of dust. Such poetry shakes you and it’s interesting to see poets documenting it all. ‘Sanskarnama: poetry of our times’ by Hyderabad-based poet Nabina Das is an initiative in the same direction. The poems in the collection are powerful, pithy and deliver the message in strong lines.
The verses voice the political biases as the book begins with the sharp-edged poem titled ‘apologies for our times’; the poet has taken it upon herself to apologise to the posterity as she mentions Modis and Yogis in the work lamenting about the deteriorating fabric of the country as a nation. Her poetry isn’t just the conduit for lament, the poems gush forward as angry lava -- ready to burn, sweep, clean the space till the roots take to regeneration. The words demand to be read, used to clear the poisoned air around more so when minds turn benumbed, soporific. The lines attempt to act as wires of change layered upon one another, travelling through the psyche of the readers delivering the message as quickly and fiercely as possible. This sets the trail of rebellion both for the poet and the reader.
The course continues its fiery cruise in lines like:
‘My pen is downright anti-national now it follows the rebel ink trail.’ And the inky trail doesn’t stop, it flows in poems like ‘my neighbour is a gau rakshak’ with lines like: ‘the sky is saffron, the cow mothers turn plastic bags to manna’
The ire and satire on nation’s much-debated animal and its rakshaks is acidic that pours and burns with water-logged ‘insha allahs’ in the ears of the neighbours. It’s interesting to note the way Nabina plays with words, reincarnating them into sharp weapons that aim for hitting the bull’s eye. It’s not just the saffronisation of the democratic and social fabric that the poet is criticising, she also rues the way the rich cultural history is being erased from textbooks, and of course, in deliberate ways to devoid the posterity of its beautiful past which has several facets. In the poem aptly titled ‘erasure’ she writes:
‘Take a pinch of our existence and see how erasure becomes a norm’
She attacks the perpetrators, who are determined to wipe essential parts of Indian history which is what makes it Hindustan. Though some poems needed more attention for better end, yet this collection is worth reading especially if you want to be against these gau rakshaks and saffronites who are the actual anti-nationals.
Publisher: Red River Press
— Saima Afreen