Be a Member of this BLOG

Mar 6, 2017

Summer: Mahapatra

Fourth YouTube Vidoe "Coleridge and Romanticism"

Link to Our channel: 

By Bijay Kant Dubey

Summer is one of those typical poems of Jayanta Mahapatra wherein he clutches along so many ideas and images to present his thesis and anti-thesis as George Bernard Shaw is in his talks and dramas of ideas and Samuel Beckett incorporating in the existential and absudistic things into the plays of his to dip into the absurdities of life and the world. What the purpose of life, who can but say it? Why are we here? A poet who is so private and personal, intricate and complex, linguistic and imagistic frolicking with word-play here in this poem takes to feminism, fatalism and palmistry, bare realism, rural landscape, Indian poverty and the gusts of summer ruffling it all with the scorching heat and dust, the sun falling so strong and the earth parching, people perspiring. Against the backdrop of all this, he portrays the life of the little girl seeing the lousy hair of her mother in the mango orchard, seeking for relief from the scorching summer. 

Poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment and life under impoverished circumstances form the crux of his poetry and the present poem is no exception to that. Taking summer, he says many a thing, somewhere about the good wife taking a siesta by being unaware of the pyre burning far and the choric voices coming to, his sexuality and also about the passing of heat and humidity under the mango tree. Somewhere he has described the Vedic and Upanishadic chants doing the rounds in the rock-built classical temples seconded by the movement of the crocodiles moving deep into the waters. The pundits and the devotees take midday meal late into the afternoon after the temple worship reciting mantras and doing the holy rituals as for confession of guilt and purification and purging of souls, good days to prevail upon with a note of benediction and foreboding of good, seeking blessings for all, peace for all, shantih, shantih for mind, heart and soul.

Summer by Jayanta is just like A Summer Poem written by him, but is different in some ways. It is the specialty of the poet that he chooses very often the same title to express it differently and similar is the case with this poem. An Indian summer poem, it is more of rural life and the country, the hamlets and thorps burning in scorching heat and summer with mother and daughter sitting in the orchard and that too under the mango tree forms the scene of the poem under our scrutiny and perusal. The secluded country with the hamlets and thorps and the mango groves portrayed against the burning sensation, scorching heat form the scenic background of the poem.

In the midst of scorching heat and dust, ruffle and hot wind, he tells of mother and daughter, their passing of time, destiny and lot seconded with the dropping of the mango somewhere. Here the image refreshes the memory of Blake’s The Little black Boy, how she nurses him under shading against the odds of life. When the poet talks of the uncertain future of the little girl, he hints towards the monstrous dowry system and the resultant state of womanhood in India. R.K.Narayanin astrologer who seems to foretell her future is perhaps a thug, the great Indian thug. 

What it is in her destiny, who can but say it? What will the astrologer guess about? The crisscrosses of her fate only God knows it. Where will she end up becoming Sati, Savitri or Sita, Kunti or Draupadi, Surpanakha or Hididmba or Putana? Who is she? Patita or Punita? In search of purity where did we go to? We made stupendous temples just to house in gods and goddesses, not for ourselves. Even today the foreigners startle at seeing the architectural feat of the masons and architects, but they living in their poor hutments. While on the other hand the Sati system, child marriage, patriarchal hegemony tell the poor plight of ours, how maltreatment was meted out to them. The second question is, what have we done from the developmental point of view? What have we after the independence of India? What have we for the women, widows and children? Poor India’s poor tales, what to say about them? The slaps and beats of the loo, heat wave sizzling and sucking blood R.Parthasarathy has felt it in his poem Delhi against the backdrop of medievalism and foreign invasion of it while walking into tombstones and mausoleums.

The girl unaware of her lot is seeing the hair of her mother, the dandruffy and lousy hair of her mother. The astrologer, palmist and soothsayer cannot see her fate lines, the crisscrosses of her destiny rather than predicting their own. History tells it that they have subjected womankind to inhuman treatment and cruelty, domestic violence and bruise, putting and pushing behind the bars. But here a ten-year old village girl child oblivious of it all, her fate and destiny and good luck, keeps caressing her mother as well as lying in wait for the fall of the mango.

As a poem it brings to our memory so many things said and unsaid and the images conjure upon automatically. Summer is of the snakes and scorpions, jasmines and other fragrant flowers. The cool shades of the banyan, peepul and mango trees delight us giving shelter from heat and perspiration. The Indian rural homes made from mud and thatched add to the woes. The sun burnt earth blazes it during the summer time. It rains fire during the moths of Jyestha and Baisakh. At that time Eliot’s search for water, thunder and rains and the prayers to Indra appear endearing to us. Khushant Singh too starts searching for water melon and lassi, lemon water, salad and pudina chutney. Onion helps us in beating the loo. Cold water from earthen pitchers refresh us.

One should not forget it that summer is the season of cold drinks, sweet mangoes, black berries and dates.

To start the poem with, Not yet appears strange and non-conventional too. Does he mean to say that it is not totally about summer but something more inducted in? Does he want to take to sociologically delving into the rural and country space and landscape? How is life in the country round the years? How the living conditions and life of the people?

The lines are exquisitely beautiful when he says,
Under the mango tree
The cold ash of a deserted fire.

The idea may be archetypal taking back to The Retreat of Vaughan, but here the context is different. The poet means to say that the things keep swapping places and positions. What it is today will not be tomorrow, what it was is it not now and what it is now will be different tomorrow. The mass is the same, but the shapes keep changing.

When the poet talks of, he seems to be suggesting it something different from all these:
A ten-year-old girl
combs her mother's hair,
where crows of rivalries
are quietly nesting.

Here lie in the things of nestling as the crows and cuckoos do it after interplaying it all, here lie in the things of rivalry which the feminine self is unaware of. Where will life take to ultimately? How will it go trending? The things are much of D.H.Lawrence’s The Fox novella where Henry the soldier intrudes upon the solitude of March and Banford and disrupts their life completely as the support system collapses it ultimately.

Under the mango there was a hearth which the ashes tell of that somebody passed it, cooked under the cool shade of, maybe a gipsy or a vagabond or a picnicker sometime back.

Which way the things will spin, it is very difficult to say with regard to Mahapatra as he is very intriguing and coquettish too apart from being intricate, complex and tedious. 

Not yet.
Under the mango tree
The cold ash of a deserted fire.

Who needs the future?

A ten-year-old girl
combs her mother's hair,
where crows of rivalries
are quietly nesting.

The home will never
be hers.

In a corner of her mind
a living green mango
drops softly to earth. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...