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Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Vol. 07, Joint Issue 26 & 27: July-Oct 2022

Book Review

The Alchemy of Ageing by S.A. Hamid

S.A. Hamid. The Alchemy of Ageing. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2021. Pp.107. Rs. 295/- ISSN: 978-93-90588-96-1.    


Reviewed by Abnish Singh Chauhan


Alchemy, as a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy, can help in finding a remedy for illness and discovering a way to extend life. But, the condition is— the practitioner of alchemy should have command over the subject and meet the needs of the needy ones. Perhaps this is the reason for which the poet in S.A. Hamid in his poetry collection— “The Alchemy of Ageing”, which is comprised of fifty poems on various shades of Indian life and culture, seven poems on Covid-19, twelve English ghazals, one poem on spiritual heritage and an interview of the poet with Sudhir K Arora in the end, is calling the needy ones out to his creation of poetic thoughts (“Poetry is thoughts”— Thomas Gray), where such people, if ready to read and understand, may find means for prolonging life.


Science believes that ageing is associated with a steady reduction in cognitive ability; whereas the poet has the firm conviction that “aging is enriching and stimulating” (7) because “the refinement that maturity provides has many colours, including shades of black and white that I have tried to paint in my poetry” (7). The colours, that the poet uses at the age of “sixty-six” (21), make unique and interesting combos on the canvas of life— “This is Byzantium where/ there’s not only the aesthetics of art/ but the art of ageing/ gracefully, beautifully, sensually” (13), leading him to the conclusion— “Ageing is beautiful” (48) and “My evening has come with many colours… before the sun sets finally” (74).


The canvas of life as visualized in the collection, has various paradigms of objective truth: the silent sufferings of his mother— “She suffered otherwise too” (15) and the resultant personal loss of the poet— “For me, a part of me had gone, buried with her” (15), the confined boundaries of freedom— “I am free/ to move about in my cage” (17), the profound pangs of loneliness— “In the arms of loneliness/ I feel my aging bones…” (18), the pronounced pity of partitions— “Leaving scars, deep/ of loss, pain, anger/ that became stamped/ on genes” (19), the strong desire for survival— “As I approach sixty-six/ exhausted, drained,/ but still alive” (21), the deep meditation of silence— “Perhaps complete silence/ shall only be in death” (22), the agonizing heat of hell— “If it all exists” (26), the dirty play of cyber love— “Let us play/ say all till we meet/ or maybe, never meet” (28), the notable lessons of spirituality— “A journey into the self... knowing the beyond” (31), the logical views for the soul— “Too many turns/ even u-turns/ because in the end/ it doesn’t matter” (63), the ruthless impressions of the pandemic— “Fear of a deadly, tiny virus lurking everywhere” (80) and “Self-isolation,/ good for a poet/ But quarantine? Confused” (83), the gentle teaching of stoicism— “Walk into the sunset, to heaven or hell, it’s your deeds/ And if there’s no beyond, just die quietly, why complain?” (88), etc.


The poet emphatically uses untranslatable words of Urdu, Hindi and Sanskrit for reflecting his thoughts and emotions. His social, cultural and spiritual lineage helps him in presenting the widest range of themes, from the serene ecstasy to the callous pandemic, and is at once overwhelming, anxious, and informative as well as sensuous, realistic, poignant and moving. The interview— “My Desire Will Awaken My Destiny”, as given in the last section of the book, may serve as a storyline or coda to the making of the creative artist and encompasses useful pieces of information for the following generation of poets and the poetry-lovers.



About the Reviewer:


abnish-photoDr Abnish Singh Chauhan (1979), the editor of two online journals– Creation and Criticism and IJHER and a Hindi magazine– Poorvabhas (पूर्वाभास), is presently serving as a Professor (English) & Founding Dean/Principal, BIU College of Humanities & Journalism, Bareilly Iinternational University, Bareilly, U.P. He has authored a number of books including Swami Vivekananda: Select Speeches, Speeches of Swami Vivekananda and Subhash Chandra Bose: A Comparative Study, The Fictional World of Arun Joshi: Paradigm Shift in Values and Tukda Kagaz Ka (A collection of Hindi Lyrics). He can be contacted at  



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