Arshad Siddiqui’s book of poetry Dinbhor Cherai Howar Age (before being ripped apart all day long) is published by Kharimati in July this year. This is a poetic document of a man’s deep experience of seeing life in many colors. Of all the emotions pain and love, however, like the contrasting colors of black and white, are the prominent elements in his poetic creation. His words of dedication summarize the essence of this book of poetry. In it he says that he was running after some unreachable thing straining his muscles and tearing away his veins heading towards some dangerous canyon which were full of errors. And then some goddess appeared to comfort him with her dream like magical fingers.
There is the touch of magic, dream and peace in the words of most of his poems here. Yet in the background plays the music of a heart-splitting pain. The poet is constantly haunted by his childhood memories of a kite cut away from the thread, the marble of an orange heart, an aluminum plate, etc. All this is gone in his present life which is full of bombs and deaths.
The description of pain in the poems is vivid, intense and violent. The poet says his windpipe is being cut off with a sharp knife, thousand pieces of glass are being pushed into his brain, his heart torn and nailed on the wall, eyes poked by date thorns, boiling oil poured into his ears, skin peeled away from his body. Yet all these tortures go away when someone puts ointment on his forehead and sets buttons correctly on his shirt with her soft cloudlike fingers. (Nokkhotro-Jajok, star-priest) The train of his life moves on along these two parallel lines of daily cruelty and love.
The origin of these parallel lines in his self may have been in the history of the division of India which devastated the lives of his forefathers. His self might have been split by that incident and he has been carrying the scars from it since his childhood. This might be one of the clues to his way of looking at the world around him. In his world, afternoon comes in a slight rain with the green of the banana leaf and the trees in rainbow colors having been tired through love making go away to the edge of suicide. (Honon, assassination)
The poet’s sky of the kite has been occupied by the bombing jets. His search for the marble that he lost along with his childhood has been going on unceasingly though many ones laugh at him for such trifles. Despite many ones’ contempt he runs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl and the burning Amazon to protect these trifling things in which rests his orange heart, and the heart of humanity for that matter, he knows. (Komola Ritpinder Marble, the marble with an orange heart)
Throughout his youth the poet ran after the goal of a social revolution which led to many unexpected errors resulting in a profound despair in his life. Now he has discovered men usually want to live in cages which are of various types. Cages provide them with comfort, security and aims in their lives. Their dream for freedom is also limited by the boundary of the cage. They struggle to build their cages stronger and more beautifully! (Ontoreen, interned)
Yet, it is not all despair. With many vital things lost and gone astray in this world, the aim of Che is there unshaken, never lost, marked with a thin but distinct line (Eepsa, desire). Arshad Siddiqui’s love for freedom remains unshaken, too. The essence of this freedom he learnt in his childhood from his grandpa who, after saying his fajr prayer took him to the village field by the hand and asked him to run across the open green field with bare foot.
With 64 poems and Kingshuk Das Chowdhury’s cover design, this book gives readers a taste of words and their stream-like smooth flowing. With some surges and declines in the flow, it mostly flows at an even speed. By reading Arshad’s Dinbhor Cherai Howar Age some readers may be reminded of the myth of Sisyphus who has been destined to roll a big boulder up a hill only to find it down and thus rolling it up again and repeating this task for ever. Whether everyone realizes it or not, are we also not being ripped apart like the poet Arshad Siddiqui day in and day out? Yet we can go on blessed with the magical touch of some cloudlike fingers.