I am always flummoxed when people ask me, “What your poems are about?” I do not know how to answer this question.
Now, thanks to you, Sucharita Dutta-Ashane, I can quote you and say that my poems are “wistful exploration of journeys through life, its lived realities and desired metaphors. Structured as a series of select journal entries, the poems trace a deep and long history of sorrow—acceptance—sorrow, the mind’s efforts to confront reality, the poet’s anguished heart turning into metaphor the journalist’s experiences. It presents life strung across a wire, taut, waiting to snap, perhaps, but held in place for the moment by the spine of a journal. Lyrical and “seeped in sadness”, the poems thus record stories of moments—probed, prodded, laid out bare—a journey that has to be made even if there is no destination in sight.”
Thank you for the wondrous words.
And, a thank you to you too, Arjun, for your enthusiasm, above all else.
The review is in the December 2014 issue of The Four Quarters Magazine. http://tfqmagazine.org/DUTTA-SUCHARITA-TFQ.html/
The text of the review below/
By Sucharita Dutta-Ashane
“Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.”
Dibyajyoti Sarma’s Pages from an Unfinished Autobiography is a wistful exploration of journeys through life, its lived realities and desired metaphors. Structured as a series of select journal entries, the poems trace a deep and long history of sorrow—acceptance—sorrow, the mind’s efforts to confront reality, the poet’s anguished heart turning into metaphor the journalist’s experiences. It presents life strung across a wire, taut, waiting to snap, perhaps, but held in place for the moment by the spine of a journal. Lyrical and “seeped in sadness”, the poems thus record stories of moments—probed, prodded, laid out bare—a journey that has to be made even if there is no destination in sight.
“It’s just a place,
Like any other.
It may not be your destination,
It certainly is someone else’s.
Take a hike.
Explore the place.
You may start to like it.
There are people who did.
It is after all a destination, like any other.”
The poet is the observer and the observed, the planes of emergence and submergence fluid, continuous, the journey from the outer to the inner ruthless, deliberate, an exorcism of the soul that doesn’t bring relief.
“Oh, how sad, the old beggar
On the roadside
Naked, shivering in the cold
His head between his knees
Like a cloudless piece of sky.
In my warm clothes,
I pitied him, I stood before him
And shedding my clothes one by one
I gave them to him,
My muffler and my torn underwear.
The beggar stood up and
Elaborately put on the clothes
One piece at a time, and finally
The wristwatch. He bowed a little
To thank me, and walked away.
Oh, how sad, I
On the roadside
Naked, shivering in the cold
My head between my knees
Like a cloudless piece of sky.”
(Journal Entry: 78)
The poems negotiate ways and ways, destinations reached and breached, sometimes to find fulfilment, sometimes to forge escape routes, but the journey is unsparing. It snares the traveller, the roads wrap around one another, in the traveller’s “throbbing heart/There lies an impenetrable darkness”. There are no exits; what seem to exist are phantom promises.
“Poems are escape routes
To make you feel secure.
But when you need them
They bar your entry
With the stubbornness of a six-year-old
Crying for his favourite candy.”
(Journal Entry: 100)
The poet mulls over possibilities, wanders among love and loss, dedicates words to friends and lovers, to those who have inspired and those who have caused despair, deeply aware, all the while, of the pervasive transience of all that takes place; “Finally, nothing remains”. As the refrain resonates across the poems, the tone swings from despair to acceptance to intense yearning, lingering hope:
“He will come.
He won’t come.
(Journal Entry: 51)
It is in these spaces, in the elision between hope and acceptance, in the repetitive arc of expectation and loss that the poet seems to exist. These intervening spaces spring hope and the joy of anticipation, of finding fulfilment, the intertwining, intense pleasures of loving and leaving, of remembered presence or the expectation of presence.
The poems thus carve a cyclical path, emotions beginning where they ended, the dragon gorging on its tail. The poet travels on, “through time/Through everything for which you/Once wanted to stop”, through the history that engenders them—the day’s experience, the mind’s inquest, its struggle, the meandering between thinking and just living, between distress and hope.
“In short, I’m blind
For a while now.
I’ve removed my eye-balls
And hung them on the gate.
He will walk by this way
Dazzling my sight.”
(Journal Entry: 76)
Elisions also inform the structure of this loose collection of recordings. The journal entries are numbered, though not necessarily in expected succession. What transpires in the blanks? What journeys does the poet undertake, where does the mind wander, how does it come back to the trajectory it has shaped for itself? Intense and repetitive, the general theme of love and yearning is expressed by the poet with sincerity of tone and language that leaves behind melancholy, as also a deeply pervasive mood of knowing that
“Dreams inhabit a different world
Beyond us and surrounding us
We live in glass jars, made of dreams.”