Deep, beautiful thoughts

Munmun Ghosh
Saturday, 16 September 2017

Name: 101 Haiku
Author: Dinesh Raheja
Publisher: Om Books International
Pages: 94
Price: Rs 150

Name: 101 Haiku
Author: Dinesh Raheja
Publisher: Om Books International
Pages: 94
Price: Rs 150

It’s a truism —  be it the patience of trees, passion of waves, gentleness of grass, the stunning perfection of every leaf — physical nature has always fascinated humans. Nature satisfies the human yearning for beauty, which seems to be sorely lacking in our crowded, garbage-rich metros, where your eyes have to search out trees in the concrete urbanscape and where sky is your only contact with infinity. In this beauty-starved scenario, you chance on a book with an appealing, earthy cover and opening randomly, read these lines:

The river sneaks off
Quietly from her lovers —
The watchful mountains       

Evening exhales mist
Blows it into the valley
Night inhales and sleeps

And your heart cannot but lift. You feel nature’s silent presence around you, as images after images leap out from the pages, enthralling you and goading you to continue reading. That’s what happened to me when I opened 101 Haiku by veteran film journalist and author, Dinesh Raheja. The 101 Haiku (a Japanese minimalist form of poetry) is a work of pure art, each haiku a jewel — a deep, beautiful thought bound in apt, elegant words. The thoughts and their equivalent images predominantly relate to nature and subtly underline the essential oneness of all creation — humans and the physical world we habit. Sample these:

Waterfall settles
Into a placid pool…
Fall has brought wisdom

He stands on one foot
The wise and ancient yogi —
The pink flamingo
 
A consummate dealer in words, Raheja also plays with many English idioms to produce piquant effects — The leopard retires/to the same spot every night — never changes spots; Aah, no pot of gold /at the end of the rainbow…I have the rainbow.        

The meditative quality of the poetry is greatly enhanced by the black-grey-white illustrations splashed across the book. Kudos to the artists at Om Books for the illustrations, and to Arijit Ganguly for an elegant cover. The foreword by Vidya Balan and afterword by Varun Grover are replete with interesting observations like Vidya’s admission, “I am not very active on Twitter because a limit of 140 characters is too restrictive…I have always struggled to keep my answers short (in school).” She sums up the appeal of Raheja’s work as she effuses, “I am fascinated by haikus because I can’t imagine how someone can express so simply and effectively in such few words.”

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