Mukhopadhyay, Aju. Insect’s Nest and Other Poems. Gurgaon (Haryana): Prasoon Publication, 2010. Pp. 72. Rs. 95, $ 4/-
Bernard M. Jackson – International Review Writer
It is futile to talk about peace
until the fire of hunger we extinguish
in every human being
if not in every living thing. (‘Hunger and Thirst’)
Romantic in spirit, formidable in his defence of true ecological ethics, and a profound lover of Nature, the remarkable outpourings of the widely acclaimed Aju Mukhopadhyay are simply pregnant with yearnings for a better world, a world where peace, fellowship and justice can be universally established, and where Man shall realize his designated stewardship within the natural order of Creation. During my many years of interaction and closeness of association with a rapidly expanding Indian-English small press poetry network across the major extent of such a vast sub-continent, it is hardly surprising that the works of this enigmatic, forceful writer had not previously been known to me, but of a certainty, here is an Indian thinker of high-mindedness and integrity, a poet whose philosophical utterances not only have international appeal and relevance, but exude also and enlightened resolve to be heard and duly responded to. Besides this prestigious writer’s twelve books in Bangla, he has authored the amazing number of 14 books in English, and has had poems featured in many of India’s higher profile poetry magazines.
In A. M.’s avowal that we should ‘live and let live’, even the smallest beings of known creation, within the natural order, are given due prominence. Meanwhile, he equates the brief establishment of an insect’s nest with the unsettled future of even the most impressive of man-made buildings or constructions:
Aint all the great constructions
like insect’s nest
brittle and fragile
sure to go
today or tomorrow
measured by time ?
why bother about any mark made of lime ? (‘Insect’s Nest’)
Thoughts of life’s gradual passing have led this poet to a deeper contemplation of bird life, and of Golden Orioles in particular. His poem, ‘The Profiles of Birds’, superb in descriptive choice of phrase, is of excellent alliterative quality, and has great charm of resonance heightened by variegated cadenced development. Conservations, too, is a key element in Mukhopadhyay’s thinking, as his poem, ‘Silence in the Forest’, clearly demonstrates: “We always destroy / while planning to conserve and develop,” claims Mukhopadhyay, and “we are the only intruders.”
And in a subsequent poem, ‘The Tree’, he reveals his substantial knowledge tree-life, extolling the very beneficence of trees in their God-given role of supplying the needs of the natural world:
Besides flowers, roots, fruits, woods, seeds and shade
They give juice, oil and bread, their bodies to insects when dead.
Epitome of silence, patience and perseverance
Trees are essential to others for their existence
So receptive to human love and touch
Trees are love and beauty incarnate without any grudge. (‘Trees’)
There is music, too, within Mukhopadhyay’s poetry, for besides the lyrical quality of his work in general, I was drawn to his delightful poem, ‘Of Melody, Rhythm and Meaning’, as he delves into what may be discovered at the very heart of musicality:
There is even the music unheard
like an emotion stilled in our heart,
or a poem unwritten on a page
like a dream formed on ethereal stage
but incommunicable such things remain,
inaccessible other than n subtle plane. (‘Of Melody, Rhythm and Meaning’)
Mukhopadhyay deplores the way that indigenous natives throughout the world have been driven from their natural habitats, or otherwise cruelly extinguished. This form of savage violation has been visited (by Man) upon wildlife in forests and jungles to such an extent, that: “Wherever minerals, oil or woodland treasures are found / men run to acquire the wealth profound / extinguishing the pristine flora and fauna / and the indigenous people, Nature-bound” (‘The Uncivilised’). And here the poet makes the salient observation: “that men become pollutants, we are not surprised / that civilised people are the most uncivilised.” Indeed, the included poem that immediately follows (‘The Adivasi’), develops the theme still further, for here Mukhopadhyay dwells upon Man’s inhumanity to Man, as nature dwellers in different parts of the world, who had become subjects to all manner of inhumane, often brutally savage treatment, were frequently driven from their ancestral homelands, to be herded away for a harsh existence of abject slavery. – A superb poem (‘The Uncivilised’), delivered with mounting passion and authoritarian zeal, in the writer’s crusading appeal for tolerance and justice in a world largely consumed by greed and aggrandizement of the individual, or whoever is powerful enough to actively encourage such monstrous circumstances.
But without a doubt, one of the most impressive poems to be found in this multifarious selection is is his purely lyrical, mantra-like soliloquy in praise of Peace, as this poet, in so many ways, tells, with constant use of simile and metaphor, of the wonderful nature of Peace. However, and very much by contrast, in yet another of his poems, ‘We are at Nuclear War’, he warns with fearsome clarity of the impending horrific effects of a widespread Nuclear attack and its consequential major scale of destruction, should this terrifying awesome threat not be sidelined and hopefully dismantled.
Aju Mukhopadhyay is an excellent poet of profound didactic capabilities. His philosophy of life is distinctly morally sound and, from a literary point of view, really quite admirable. It is greatly to be hoped that this fine opus will soon be acquired and absorbed by many like-minded readers, litterateurs and fellow poets.*