(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
C L Khatri. For You To Decide. New Delhi, Authorspress, 2016. Pp. 82/- Price: Rs. 250/-. ISBN: 978-93-5207-406-8.
Reviewed by Sandhya Saxena
C. L. Khatri's fourth collection of poems For You To Decide opens with the picture of deceitful masked existence which is to be skinned off to initiate a communication with the divine. The poet is again craving to get humanity released from the slaughtering clutches of the octopused existence measured merely with e's and 'V' of human endeavour 'signifying nothing.' Man's fruitless ransacking of the universe has borne no rewards in terms of SQK (sustainable quest for knowledge) which was the chief concern of our forefathers. Here the poet poses a very crucial question that is tormenting mankind today- will humanity sustain itself on a decaying planet? What would man attain with an indiscriminate stride towards techno- existence, 'wearing gas-masks all stolen from the earth' to look at the skies and 'smog shielding the sun and the moon'? This horizontal leap and vertical fall in the 'deluge of development' leaves 'a wide winding chasm' 'between the earth and the sky'; between divinity and humanity abandoning man to 'be content with e- shake.' The poems like Love establishing the timeless significance of selfless sacrifice that characterizes love leaves an imprint on the sensitive mind. Will nature continue to yield before man's demands? It's high time to realize to what we will turn when even the stump is consumed. The 'god of the cyber age may be writing a new discipline' yet a return to our roots is imperative; no blossoming is possible without our 'legs firm on the native soil like Angad.' We are merely like 'a suspended particle in the air' 'without clutching the soil.' The forsaken existence in a world of attractive packaging earnestly waits for the day when 'wisdom teeth listen to the toothless wisdom.'
The poet also captures the incongruities like the scene of a hospital where 'perfumed phantoms greet your purse with cupid smile', stampedes resulting from the political and other gathering and 'Drama of Death' resulting from thoughtless action. 'Human life in India is very cheap.' Even a reprehensible deed is ironically cashed by manipulating people's emotions and a drama is enacted for monetary gains. These observations finally lead to the Hardian view that the world is merely a Chessboard where 'King or Queen- all are pawns in the masters' epiphany.'
The collection voices the poet's craving for a world where pang of parting is felt, and letters not the e-mails reveal the bosom; where Muse is pleased with 'A journey through ferns and flowers'' where meditation purges of dross making the devotee feel 'lighter and brighter than a golden leaf in autumn'; where 'Realization dawns' with 'A happy return.'
In a world where people 'look at the fruits at the top of a tree' ignoring the seed that 'struggle in the coarse bed' the poet leaves it to the inhabitants of the earth to decide if we can 'condone genocide'; if we can allow the programming of Bharata's nine Rasas; if we can allow 'the granny's tales... to be archived'; if we can allow babies to be 'sold in shops.' If not so, the humanity will have to seriously consider for the sustainable growth in all spheres of life from individual to social, from human to divine.
At the end of the collection Khatri brilliantly shakes humanity with three liners like Audience is dozing.........., Nine days of Navaratri..............etc. and haikus like Rippling in river....land awaits leader and so on. The vision of regeneration through the image of the recharging of clouds leaves a ray of hope for the humanity to revive itself. With all these the collection demands attention and serious reflection. The images like 'crammed wardrobe of deceits', 'caravan of candles' and references of Angad, Purkha's tale and Dadhichi's pledge enrich the collection and capture the imagination with their relevance and force. One can't resist the strength of poetry that 'wants to stand with you' amidst all the 'tears and smiles'.
Dr Sandhya Saxena is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at V.R.A.L. Govt. Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Bareilly. She has completed 15 years of teaching in Govt. Colleges. She has edited and co-edited three books, namely: Political Novel: The Beaten Track & the Path Ahead, Five Indian Women Writers: A Feminist Vision, Text Book of English Prose. Her quality research papers have been published in reference books and esteemed journals like Replica, Cyber Literature, Contemporary Vibes, Labyrinths and The Indian Journal of English Studies. She has completed a Major Research Project on Words Vs Lines: A Comparative Study of R. K. Narayan's Lingual & R. K. Laxman's Graphic Representation of Humanity. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.