Life speaks of distressing Space in Joys
Nicely produced, “A Journey of the Letters,” a collection of poems by Napali poet Birbhadra Karkidholi rouses the inner man with rare concentration. M. B. Rai’s translation of verses convinces though many a time that it is difficult to find the apt phrase in another language. When a poet or any creative artist begins a journey to the past, he reveals feelings that he nurses in the heart and the outlines of the village where he took birth. Nature invariably teases, saddens and indexes charisma, and nostalgic intensity enhances subtle sensibilities, at times defying correct depiction.
Karkidholi is a lover of nature and links personal agony with its pleasant and angry attributes. He is conscious of the destructive face of nature, otherwise benign and humane, but fails to celebrate a birthday because of the widespread havoc nature brought. Correlating nature to the happenings in life is the poet’s forte. Through innovative images, he baffles and yet conveys eternal truths.
-it was not possible to get a drop of water
from the grains of sand.
In an understated way, sometimes longing for past stabs, and in pensive moments he recalls a past that was never pleasant, and his question beleaguer the intellect as he thinks of life and death and their inscrutable journey to each other. Anguish is ever fresh, as when he says, ‘As a matter of fact, / it is going to be difficult to survive here / as it was over there.’ At times, the silence within is more dangerous than the silence outside.
Strangely enough, though the poet is often sad and disillusioned about life and existence at times he displays hope and optimism. Notwithstanding defeats and failures, he does not approve of yearning for an unappeasable hunger. Even the undeserving attain glory, and the most capable fail. It is not essential that only with wings can men fly, but their flights of fancy take men to lands of delight. Karkidholi surprises with the flow of thought that provokes and irritates.
I know the victors are not powerful.
And those that are vanquished
are not invariable weaklings.
I have seen many people totally empty.
Karkidholi’s inquisitiveness is intense. In love even, he tries to find the impact of nature extending to a yearning that waits for peace and harmony to prevail in a world of disturbance, but emptiness fills all. Questions to a beloved go beyond the spiritual and metaphysical quests, and waving at the setting sun underscores disillusionment with life and the world. “She remains a mystery.” Transience haunts as disenchantment shadows the mind and heart. The hunt does not stop. Sitting on a bench alone and brooding, he tries to locate the omnipresent ‘you’. Obscurity deepens, for each object of nature reflects an indistinct image of ‘you’. The search continues through the village, trees, birds, sunset, clouds, raindrops, time … and one is led to mystic lands.
There are winds/scenes
just like it used to be in the past. But
not those moments. No they are not here.
His love for nature is of a different kind. He loves ‘engulfing darkness’, for, darkness is not ‘as selfish as that of light’. The beauty ugly flowers and hailstones attracts. The earth-shattering face of nature charms. Cliffs, deserts, cactuses, fire and snow inspire and connect life to nature with a pensive strain.
Presently, I am in love with the jet black
rock hill, and am proud of it.
Many love to think about a false impression of life and often feel happy when they are in a state of delusion. It is fallacy of existence, and the man avoids any disconnection in mirages, for such a mental frame gives a glimpse of happiness somewhere inside. Diverse things, feelings, thoughts and men who seem ugly or untrue are not necessarily so. Everything requires scrutiny, and relative characteristics materialize after analysis that impart meaning, ‘Now it should not be thought the way / it is thought. Confused! / it should not be understood the way /we are understanding. An illusion.’
Love, a bit of sadness and a little hope in life, guide Kakidholi’s verses. His lyrics may not contain great thoughts, but his passion and inherent zeal determine everything, and nature is always present in his lyrics. One can involuntarily walk in leisure with the experiences of the poet. One can read “Experientially Evident, Why is that moment Traceless Today?” and just see the lines when he says, ‘If you feel like meeting me / when I am gone / Meet me on the pages and in the letter / that contain my name. / Sometimes, when you like talking to me / talk with my poems.’
There is a flowing thought, a feeling of intensity and a maddening craze for the love that creates a mystifying aura and experience when one reads ‘For Me, I need affection and the Spring’. A gentle but aching flow of inner suffering it is, and one wants to continue to walk along the evocative terrain of anguish inundated with a pinch of melancholy in many more verses. He touches everyone deeply, for the experiences of the poet are so near and true. A few moments of loneliness give poignant joys of a past lived, ‘Whether or not my village remembers me / even for a moment, that I can’t say. / As far me, I often keep on remembering it. / Because even today my name is still there in that village.’
He goes back repeatedly to his native place and seeks identity with everything – animate or inanimate. One finds a subtle sign where he tries to demonstrate faith but then withdraws, for the temple’s noise repels.
Located in the midst is a temple
where the piercing sound of conch
and the ringing bells reverberates
at its loudest pitch.
He loves to wander in lands unfathomed, and penetrates into the mystery of life, whatever he sees around provokes, and so he thinks. An unguided contemplative mind creates inner tumult, and maybe the poet speaks of the sufferings of life that dominate man’s life with little joys in between. Personal interaction and dialogue with the mist, the cloud and the mountain are expressions of an indefinite search, but though he does not understand it continues. He is a fearing man, a man of belief who does not boast of a personal God, and the inadequacy makes him sad and forlorn and makes him wish to fly. In the land of imagined experience, he keeps the words flowing and weaves dreams but finds no god despite the search.
I don’t think there is peace and happiness
in the tingling of the bells
and the blowing of the conches.
for, I have not seen God
face to face,
and the mist.
The poet appears to struggle, holding something vague and imprecise. At the personal level, he feels lost and dead and then goes back to what he was. He remembers feelings of love, an indistinct alliance, the breath of faith, selfishness or deception, and feels abandoned, and, therefore, memories appear extremely painful. A visit to an old house brings moments of anguish and longing, for it is in near ruin ‘with the swallows’ nest and cobweb / and broken doors / with worn-out hinges and bolts / came back to me.’ The past haunts, and here he tries to establish a relationship with everyone, for each one thinks of a past and recalls the house, wall, birds, hinges, the clouds and the mist, the now indistinguishable faces that once loved and provided affection. However, life is rough, rugged and devoid of feelings of love. Even prayers to God appear futile and the regrets are obvious in ‘Tell me, which life of mine I should give to this life.’
It is a fact worthy of note
that some of the melodies of life
are so full of pity, and heart-rending –
a phase after which life went down
slowly sinking –
a moment of instability.
A stage, after which life seemed dead.
He realizes that his diary of life shall remain incomplete and he lives no life while breathing. Non-entity and non–existence torture him amidst his effort to seek meaning and purpose, and so he has nothing to give to God. Even if nature offers a beautiful life and meaning, it does not demonstrate reprieve or motivation, for the poet is conscious of the transitory joys in fragments with lengthening pauses.