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“I recommend this to every Indian as a must read.” Tushar Gandhi

Santosh Bakaya’s innovative and brilliant poetic tone is visible in her masterpiece, Ballad of Bapu. The bibliography at the end of the book indicates the research Santosh Bakaya has undertaken to compose this evergreen book of poetry about Mahatma Gandhi, a legendary leader and activist of India. She has penned a tour de force that covers Bapu’s entire journey to this immortal land. She has used an exuberant language to portray the different phases of Gandhi’s life.  In the foreword, Nancy Diana Erbe, writes,

“Gandhi has inspired so many generations around the world and continues to do so with his ‘mere words’, or profoundly relevant phrases like we need to be the change we wish to see in the world’ or ‘eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind’.

This is a wonderful epic poem which unfolds many hidden and known facts about the life of this great Indian leader, right from his birth to his demise. Dr. Bakaya’s philosophical and literary genius over poetic and colloquial lyrics is well realized through her description of different parts of Bapu’s life.  In author’s note, she begins,

“It was the afternoon of 13 August 1947, only two days before India’s independence. An old, exhausted and shattered ruin of a man was heading towards a building, another ruin, in a pre-war Chevrolet, itself a ruin. ”. The entire book is filled with such simple yet poignant poetry.

‘In the Yervada prison, he did not feel insecure

The inconveniences he was ready to endure

In this experience new

There were pinpricks few

Life in Yervada was like an ‘arrest cure’.

 

Her lyrics hold the readers bound to her book of poetry. All the 48 poems are full of life and arise out of deep research and philosophical insight of the poet. The elaboration executed by the poet in her poems is highly admirable and commendable because she has put forth skepticism without prejudice and full-fledged liberty of expression taking the readers into the world of heart touching realities about Mahatma Gandhi’s life.  All the poems are commendable and admirable. Every poem exposes the real description of his life and allied incidents and facts. By doing so, she takes the readers into the world of heart-felt reality.

In the last lines of this poignant poetic saga, Santosh Bakaya writes:

 

‘A remarkable saga had come to an end tragic

Churchill’s half-naked fakir for many was quixotic

But now this man homeward bound

Mingling with the dust, immortality found.

The ordinary melted with extraordinary to emerge heroic.

 

With her well-constructed and meaningful poems, Dr. Bakaya has unmasked the naturalism of Gandhism. She unveils various small secrets with her substantive capacities being a poet .All the poems are deep in meaning and touch the heart.

She says, “In the present strife torn world, where love, forgiveness, selflessness are in a pathetic short supply, Gandhi’s words need to be followed, as opposed to the stridently menacing tones of vitriol and the insidious currents of hatred, we appear to be surrounded with at every turn of life.”

Her use of images, lyrics, and narrative skills enlarge the literary value of the book. Such elevated language will certainly appeal to the intellectuals and academicians at large in this comprehensive analysis of the various aspects of Gandhi’s life. Dr.Bakaya says, “Let us remember that he was an ordinary human being, who created a niche for himself with his extraordinariness, let us not put the halo of divinity around him, let us not sing paeans for him, and let us accept him with all his flaws and blemishes”.

Her first poem, A Star is Born, defines the birth of this son of Indian soil.  The last poem, “The Journey of the Ashes,” concludes the death of this genius. The mid 46 poems exhibit the different parts of Mahatma Gandhi’s life.

 

I am sure readers will enjoy a flight from the fake imaginative aspects to the realities of this world. This is an exposition of the various social evils through well-constructed and composed poems. In fact, the poet deals with the various social and human aspects in a manner that manifests profundity as well as realistic sensibility. I would go to the extent of saying that Dr. Bakaya has achieved and developed a new perspective and invention in Indian English poetry through her elegant poetic effort.

 

Book Review

Title:  Ballad of Bapu

Poet:  Santosh Bakaya

Published by:  Vitasta Publishing, New Delhi, 2015

Price:    Rs. 295 /-

Pages: 317
ISBN:     978-93-82711-57-5

 

Bio: Dr. Ajit Kumar has interviewed many writers and poets from USA, Canada, Ireland, France. Brazil, India and Pakistan. He has reviewed a good number of books of literature in English.