This is a one-way valve that allows entry to your inner being, and once you enter there is no point of return. A valve that is predominantly red, with elements of yellow and grey. These colors are symbolic of the fire and its remnants — the inherent fire that dwells within the pillars of Gopal Lahiri. This was my first impression as I held the book, Living Inside, an anthology of select poems by Lahiri. This book included seventy poems of varied themes and colors. In his wonderfully crafted foreword the distinguished poet and academician Dr. Sunil Sharma wrote, “…rejuvenation through a rare combo of visuals, music and sheer lyricism. The soft spoken scientist can create kinetic verbal images that are experienced as the shimmering visuals reflected dynamically on moon-lit surfaces of a quiet lake, surrounded by deep solitude …” In the preface the book housed another guest author, Gary Robinson (Canada), who wrote, “Mr. Lahiri has a chronicler’s dedication to preserving feelings and nuances of what he finds around himself. Just as a photographer seeks to capture an image so does Mr. Lahiri – but with words …” An input here: The preface and introduction of a book are supposed to be written by the poet/author himself, and I didn’t find a reason to deviate from this popular convention.
Let me now explore a few of Lahiri’s poems. The first had been the title poem of the book. Look, what Lahiri meant by his Living Inside:
holding hands with the one you love
of people we will never meet
deflowered by force and thrown out
all eyes reflect a defeated dream.
‘Defeated dream’ has been a wonderful coinage, I must admit. And this was perhaps the key to Lahiri’s being in this thoughtful rendition.
While living in Lahiri wrote:
“sitting at the edge of the sunlight
a tiny bird tweets
i am still waiting for the right line,
the time I always look forward to
never ever reaches my door.” (Time Slice, page. 22)
Weren’t these your own unspoken lines? So very natural …spontaneous …mental … human?
Lahiri made his voice audible against the age-old rituals of the nation, especially in favor of the women, who remain the same like the unchanged ‘sound of conch shells.’ He moved to notice:
the bindi looks pale on the forehead
a good deal of scar and pain
reside on those sad eyes of women.
nothing has been moved from years, from centuries.” (Unmoved, page. 26)
Lahiri reinforced his poethood, and made the world consider him a serious poet. He searched peace and purity in his river that meandered ‘in silence.’ Here came his enthralling lines:
No one knows the sin of height
No one really cares for death.” (My River, page. 47)
While traversing by train Lahiri felt ‘the oneness…’ as he saw the ‘setting orange sun.’ He wrote:
the blue sky is as much as your eye
the green grass is nothing but your fingers
the twilight colour is your vibrant mind
the branches of the tree are your hands and legs
time disappears for a moment
the things that are not yours
now in your total possession” (Coherence, page. 74)
Lahiri urged to reach beyond his physical eyes. He was perhaps as spiritual as he wrote:
if i want to capture the mien of my circle
it is the time to go back behind the eyes
and change the way to see the world.” (Change the Way, page. 95)
Gopal Lahiri is a poet of fewer words. Living Inside is certainly a book that can be cherished by the general readers of English-literature. I am indeed happy to include Lahiri in my latest book, My Dazzling Bards that is essentially comprised of some literary critiquing of his select works, and works by other Indian poets. Honestly, Living Inside is a collector’s edition, but it lacks professional editing. May I request the publisher to be more careful in publishing future titles? The back cover is absolutely messy, and does no justice to the brilliant overview by the noted academician Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi. Moreover, the list of contents has not been properly done, and this does not quite match with this superlative anthology of the lively poems by Gopal Lahiri.
Price: INR. 195.00