Dr P L Koul
Boni Shahjar (Divine satisfying shade of Chinar tree) is an anthology of Kashmiri poems written by Moti Lal Raina. It is not just the best words in the best order or the rhythmic creation of beauty but cry of the soul of a very sensitive poet brought up at Badiyar, Srinagar, Kashmir.
In the words of the renowned Kashmiri poet and scholar Prof. Abdul Rehman Rahi who has written forward titled “Befrouk” -spontaneity -for the anthology, “Shehjar has more important connotations than just shade”. He explains the meaning of poetry and says that after going through the book from first to the last page, he feels that the author talks not only about the beautiful, lovely and romantic past but also laments about the death and destruction brought about by some people. But the author optimistically prophesies prosperity and peace returning to his home land”. At the end he quotes a peom of the author under the tittle “Akh Iktibas”.
The anthology begins at page 6 with author’s tender feelings towards his parents. He mentions versatility of his father and its impact on his siblings under the caption “Mein Kath” and explains the meaning of the word Shehjaar”.
The author has not given any title to his poems but has only numbered these from 1 to 91. I feel that he ought to have titted them for the benefit of the reader. So I have ventured to suggest titles to his poems. Space does not allow me to describe every poem so I have selected only a few in this review.
Poem 1: Tittle could have been “Amar -Shanker”, it is an elegy. The poet writes about the innocence “Saud Boud Masoom”, purity of the soul of his child who left for heavenly abode at an early age. The author has the remorse about his failure to give protection to his dearest son.
Poem 2: “Dai Assi Tootheith”
A symbolic poem asking people to harvest paddy well in time, make bundles and thrash these before it starts raining. Store the harvest and then enjoy because when we perform our right Karmas well in time we are sure to get blessed by Lord Shiva.
Poem 3: Deserves the title ” Dal Sailus ”
A romantic poem describing his shikara ride on the Dal Lake with his newlywed beautiful wife who would get blushed when her husband would look at her with love.
Poem 4: Could be titled ” Baharich Aamad.
The author says that the chill of winter will be over soon and the snow is going to melt and the spring season about to set in. A cycle of life – the cycle of death the rebirth, with a new lease of life to all forms especially the trees and flowers and people shall be full of joy and love shall pervade everywhere. This poem has a similarity with PB Shelley’s ” O, wind if winter comes can spring be far behind “in the Ode to the West wind.
Poem 5: Deserves the tittle “Oobreital Zoon”
The author talks about the beauty of moon from behind the clouds and the love of a lover for his beloved.
Poem 6: Can be titled “Matamaal” and in this poem author writes about the urge and yearning of a child to visit the maternal grandparents house – the Matamaal, which is full of granaries, sugar candies sweeter than honey, fruits and has affectionate people as well. The streams, greenery and much more gives great pleasure to the author.
Poem 10: Needs a title, ” Mauin Hindustan “which according to the poet is having a secular character and everyone has equal opportunities to grow and develop and the author is overjoyed to realize that his country is guiding and leading the comity of nations.
Poem 11:Deserves the title ” Saitha Yaad Aaham” A heart- rending elegy on the death of someone, very dear to the poet, who has left this world at a very young age. The author yearns for his meeting with him and says once he meets him he will finish his self in the process of holding him tight for he misses him a lot.
Poem 15: The title could be ” Bie Yakhsan Sapdus” and here the poet talks about the state of his mind after seeing and meeting his beloved after a pretty long time and expresses his feelings till both get transformed into one. Perhaps the poet talks of being one with God almighty. This poem reminds me of the poem by John Keats ” Shut not the door Fanny, shut not the door, one kiss more one kiss more, love for his beloved Fanny Browne”.
Poem 16: Title could be “Maich Hind Rang” It is a beautiful poem which reminds of the poem Ozymandias – the great by Shelley that nothing is eternal and perennial. The poem reminds me of the good old days when the clay vendors would move from door to door and shouting about the sale of their product the clay for cleaning say mud washing of our mud stoves – the dhaan and our houses. The clay is the source of all the precious metals, foods and other requirements but it also devours everything mighty and strong so we should maintain a balance in our life and and behavior as Lalded also advises us to remain “Samui”.
Poem 37: ” Soormout” the poem is about lord Shiva the consort of Parvati and the poet describes his attire, caliber and much more and his capacity to create, sustain and destroy and sings praise and salutations.
Poem 39:”Banjar Jannat” The author talks about the senseless killings of Kashmiri Pandits especially Sh. Tika Lal, Premi, Ganjoo and many more by the terrorists turning the Reshi veir into hell by gun and aword but the author has faith in God almighty and leaves everything to his will.
Poems 40, 41, 43and 44 are in memory of his son and author says that he dwells in his body, heart and soul and if he happens to come he will not leave him because he feels ruined without him and grieves at his loss.
Poem 42: “Tapas Rood” a four line poem, a quatrain poem – in which he says that for every bad thing there should be a good thing to counter so that the poor and downtrodden get some relief.
Poem 77: Onwards are mostly couplets talking about various facts of life like truth always triumphs and so on.
The end pages 71-72 contain a biographical note on the author by his daughter Sarojini Raina Ganjoo.
A study of collection of poems of Moti Lal Raina bring him out as a very sensitive human being and poet who is aware of the beauty as well as the ugliness of the world around him. He is optimistic that despite the evil forces truth will ultimately prevail and good things will start happening again in Kashmir. His collection of poems is a welcome addition to Kashmiri literature.
Dr P L Koul