Rich variety of themes
Ramesh Luthra
by J P Das. Translated from Oriya by the poet. Grassroots. Pages 112. Rs 195.

J P Das is a reputed Oryia, poet, playwright and short story writer as well. His inborn talent of writing impelled him to resign from the IAS to and devote his time to writing.

The book gives us a glimpse of his skill in this genre. He has the knack of giving us a pithy as well as true-to-life picture of the modern human society. He uses understatement and colloquial style, which endear his verse to us all the more.

The book in hand starts on an optimistic note with a small but striking poem titled Beginning. "In the blind alleys of life/ chance meetings/ are promises." But in the very next poem, Mask, the mood of the poet changes. As if disillusioned with life he dwells upon the discrepancy between human expectations and stark reality of life.

While going through poems like At the Stoke of Six, one is reminded of Nissism Ezekilís remark: "The romantic mood predominates, but the reader is always aware of a counter towards doubts and disillusions."

Till the End too is a beautiful romantic poem. Note the intensity of loverís emotions: "At times your face expands/ and in a glitter of lights / I get lost/ in the pupils of your eyes." The reader reminded of the romantic poets. His love poems stand in a befitting comparison to theirs.

Never Leave Me and After You Leave are again love poems with the latter having a touch of mysticism here and there: "While your train steamed away to some unknown city`85." He carries on: "There is a queer kingship between/ the end of life and the transient/ but lovely flesh`85. and then the poet will have no fear of "death or immortality."

Not that only love poems predominate is collection. There is a rich variety of poems in JPís basket, which gives us a glimpse of the poetís genius. Mahabharat the exposes the vulgarity and meanness.

Kalahandi like Mahabharat is used as a symbol. It is one of the most poignant pieces of the collection. It is a symbol for the pain and suffering of grinding poverty ridden millions of our countrymen.

At the Traffic Lights is another moving poem that wrings our hearts out. Pokhran too is a symbolic. It criticises the hype generated by the government and the scientists about the nuclear testing: "The road to Pokhran is built on historyís wasteland, suffering and deprivation".

In poems like Curfew in the City, Riot, Savages and Bustee, the predominant theme is violence and sense of unbelongingness. He comes across no Ďwarmthí and finds deserted roads. He further mourns the state of his city of childhood: "innocence caught between flying bullets/amity falling down in pieces from the broken domes.

After Gujarat is his bitter reaction to the massacre in Gujarat. It is again about violence and bloodshed that mark the present times.

Nonsense Verses bring forth another aspect of the creative genius of the poet. Simple in rhyme and style they reflect the times we are living in. Lively images have a magical effect on us one canít help borrowing Nissism Ezekilís words: "His poems are packed with images from nature, life and dream world".

A rich variety of themes, simple lucid and true to life colloquial style impel me to finish with Vassilis Vitsaxis words. "His poetry is universal as true poetry should be and ranks with some of the best in any language." One really feels privileged to write about it.