Shabd Se Maun Tak is the title LalitMagotra has given to his anthology of Dogri poems, self-translated into Hindi. The much-acclaimed author is better known for his prose works, but his poetry is bound to make him an established poet as well. The slim volume of 125 pages has been brought out by the KunwarViyogi Trust, established in the memory of Late Group Captain Randhir Singh, a highly respected name in Dogri literature.
The book contains 81 poems, eighty by the poet himself and the last oneby his friend, Arvind. Befittingly titled Mere Dost Ki Kavitayen, this poem serves as an epilogue of sorts.
‘Be short and sweet’ seems to be the credo of LalitMagotra – the longest poem in the collection, TAVI, has only seven verses of uneven length, and the shortest, GEET, runs to four lines of just 19 words. Out of these poems emerge the poet’s perception of the self, the world around him and his place in the world as he sees it.
‘I’ is the motif of not less than twenty of the poems. His corporeal body is only a trifling part of his being, the poet asserts, in essence he is not of the worldly stuff:
Merideh/jo/mere vajoodkaadnasahissahai/beshakmittihai/par meinmittinhin (MEIN, p.2)
My frame/That is/But an insignificant part of my being/May well be dust/But I am not
Such an ethereal being aspires to make even death a lustrous occurrence:
Nhinsamaanachahtamein/raatkiandheribukka lmein/ekbujhe hue sardsurajkitarah…
Jaanechahiye mere saath/meritammanayen/meriummeeden/mere armaan/ta ki/jeevankeakhiri pal tak/jeevankotajte hue bhi/mein/zindaho-un (MAUT-2, p.88)
I hate to recede/Silently into the dark/Cold fold of eternal night/Like a setting sun…
I would rather die/With all my desires simmering/Inside my bosom / My longings unquenched/My aspiration soaring high / How I wish to be fully alive/Until my very last breath / And bid adieu to dear life/While I still have all the zest in me
Delectably, the poet’s ‘I’ is not overly preoccupied with selfhood. On the contrary, he enjoys connecting with the world. Even a token expression of affection from total strangers is enough for him to celebrate the warmth of human bonding (APNA, pp.52-53). Not only human beings, but flowers and even the river Tavi claim the poet’s love. ‘Tum to mere bachpankisaheliho’ – My childhood friend is what you are – he thus addresses the Tavi in his eponymous poem. In the poem RISHTA-2, Magotra describes how ten years ago on a journey to Sweden, he got fascinated by a yellow flower growing somewhere in the village Arild. On return, he grew the same flower in his own kitchen garden. The closing verse of the poem describes the situation exquisitely:
Hazaronmeelonkefaasle par/Khiledonophool/Is baat se hainbekhabar/Ki/Unkaaapasmeinhaiekrishta/Kisi kedilkiraah se(p.121)
Thousands of miles apart/Both the flowers in full bloom/Are unaware of the fact/That/They have a kinship/That passes through someone’s heart
LalitMagotra’s diction is simple, sparse and unpretentious. His thoughts range from the sublime and the pensive such as in Rachnaakaar (pp.13-14) and Vidaai (pp.113-114), to the earthly as in Auraten (pp.83-84). Hisfree verseflows like a mountain stream making its own path. Purists may turn up their noses, but for him, meter, rhyme and rhythm are only secondary considerations to his poetic muse.Were he to involve himself too much with the stylistic conventions of poesy, he would have still been wandering kahaanchalijatihainvekavityen/ jo man se nikalkar/phurr se udjatihain – Where do those poems go/That spring from my mind/And fly away with their feathers fluttering (Kahan Chali Jati Hain Kavitayen, p.63).
All said, Shabd Se Maun Tak is a creditable achievement of the author, both as a poet as well as a translator.