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A profound poetic engagement with nature: Relaunch of 'Out of Shoes' by Reema Das at KBF 2017
Among online poetic celebrities the name of Reema Das comes foremost of all when she weaves a dream centered on the North-East idyllic life in her poetry. She has been scribbling long as if Saraswati kissed her nib and she inked a lot of poems on social media that engages the attention of hundreds of readers.

Her life in the North East villages and her later odyssey to the city life in Assam and later in Kolkata gave her a collage of diverse experience of man and society life and love, which created a metaphoric zone for her where the euphoria is created and again it vanishes and the liquid ecstatic feeling that flows in her poems in the earlier phase of her life turns solid and crusty though meaningful no less. Like a river in Herman Hesse's Siddathashe goes on flowing.

As in the poem 'My Phenomenal Identity' she writes:

I'm flowing like the river in each state,

started from my native village;

I flowed from there as the Lohit river,

drank the sweet hilly water as I moved.

My thirst quenched, the sublime thoughts

reflected the memories of childhood

as transparent as the blue water.

Mystifications and falsifications that cannot be surmounted were negotiated in a realistic framework of poetry. But the nostalgia remains forever:

I continued my journey to flow as it wanted me to...

I reached the Ghat of Ganga

with baited breath and with same wave ways,

I flowed as the waves navigated me-

Here I cried like a motherless child,

wandering to wash my woes,

tend my wound as others do...

The energetic series culminates in the serene circadian rhymes and rhythm making the readers dream of new depths. Such poetic dreaming combines both conscious and sub-conscious possibilities taking the readers closer to the psychological level of perception at the core of each poem. In her poem on her father she goes nostalgic:

When 'Digaru' used to get flooded

How you would arrange for

The stranded passengers' stay,

In our wooden bungalow!

Maa would cook dinner for

Every guest

And they were treated like God

People all around had loved and

Respected you

Till date, they talk about your honesty.

You were close to me.

Now I'm a fatherless child

Imagination has its own domain in Reema's poetry with their own convoluted expressions. To read her poems is to enter the idyllic world of mountains, hills, rivers which are prophylactic against the city syndrome. New depths are reached and an emptiness is so sonorous in each poetic cube that surpasses saccharine sweetness. Out and out a romantic Reema is sometimes troubled by overwhelming emotional riddles. The speaker and the surroundings interconnect with each other, the loosening air of her poetry concentrates the blood that enriches heart, which is in the grip of grief and re-ordered priorities:

So, romantically she writes:

The wild music sways our soiled feet

And our fickle mind dances to its tune

Something bewitch our ears...

The rushing of the rivulet.

Both of us love to see the sunset and evening stars,

But we most love to see the beautiful crescent moon;

Our hearts long to say our feelings and

Our eyes speak to each other:

The landscape is always closely read by Reema in her poems on Nature and similarly the heart is mapped well in her poems on love, marriage and friendship. Heart is not the only organ that encourages her poems, there is the intellectual flourish especially in the use of diction which provide much oxygen to the city-maniac and exhausted soul of the readers who inhale fresh wind blowing.

In her poem, she dreams of freedom as a poet in Nature:

I want to walk free

Unbind my expression

and free me to flow like a fountain.

The theme of freedom and its ecstatic joy maddens Reema the woman and Reema the poet . In her poem 'Footlose' she is again seen harping on her freedom

I'm free to explore the unique universe

And enjoy life on lap unlimited!

I'm free to flow like an exigent river

And keen to join the ornate ocean!

The titular poem 'Out of Shoes' is centered on this theme where Reema sings so poignantly:

I'm out of shoes

Flying with my wings

Hidden in the transparency of sunrays

Gazing at Moon at night

Clouds draped me in silver attire

Out of all satire

I am within myself

The evoking magnitude is wonderful and astonishing when the identification of the poet with the surrounding is complete. The fusion is achieved with Nature in the poems of this North East Poet which now is missing in her long stay in the City of Joy where the bricks and marbles hide the green lawn of grassy blades. She uses the wild flower image in her poetry to express her nature:

She is like a wild

flower

blooming in the

hill

inaccessible

known

for its rare

beauty

like a poem or

an elegy.

The visual effect of her poetry is blissful and self-erasure and the fusion of colour and feelings add a new dimension. This is more transparently depicted in the description of Sunpura the little hamlet of her childhood days:

I still remember my sweet little village...

Where I was warmly brought up-

Simple, sleepy and romantic,

Life vibrant, yet seemed to be lazy,

Latched in fun, small things made crazy;

Smiles touched everyone's lips

When they see, sunrays peep...

She speaks of detachment in the life of the Buddhist monks :

I have seen the congregation of monks

Chanting holy hymns that spread peace

I have seen the new youth opting for Nirvana

Detachment to worldly lives, closer to dharma.

She laments for a river losing its vivacious flow as A.K. Ramanujan writes in his poem A River, how it dries up under the throes of urbanization:

The house stands alone, to witness the power

and strength of the river that flows.

But today, it is sad to see the face

of the river, whose bed is dried

dying every hour, dying everyday

the fiery roar that once injected chillness

Reema again and again remembers Tinsukia in her poem and this gives regional flavor to her poetry in poems like 'The Colonial Ride from Tinsukia to Bogapani' and 'The Green City of Tinsukia' reminding us of writers like Hardy who immortalises Wessex or R.K. Narayan in his Malgudi novels, or Mark Twain in his Mississippi tales.

Like these great writers of English literature, Reema, who is also a Master's Degree holder in English and a teacher of English, goes nostalgic, eclectic and ecstatic and the final tone of nostalgia overrides all other moods.

After boarding the train, a colonial attachments reassured;

old bogey's, old station, the old guards and an old rail route,

the colonial made, all spoken of that era.

The early misty morning, dewy month of December,

Seats made of seasoned wood, and a few passengers with no

fussiness boarded the train.

What a personal tone she adds to the Nature poem on Tinsukia

Reema, calling you from the Green City

Till now, known for its Unity and Sanctity!

Reema knows how to write poetry as someone speaks a soliloquy, but unconsciously expanding the contours of poetry and music in the poems. She is lyrical like the English romantic poets who can breathe romance in the simple web of words:

"She loves someone

So does he

And their hearts

Sing the same song,

Attuned together.

He makes their love

Further anew

So does she!

Whata sweet yet simple description of Love that two souls are engaged in! When all emotions have a cathartic release in the emotional poems of Reema ,there remains a camphor like sensation that trails behind in our memory. This beautiful bardess of Assam mesmerizes the readers with her magic wand of poetry like Prospero in The Tempest :

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

After finishing her role as a poet, Reema too breaks her magic wand and the insubstantial pageant fades.

About the reviewer: Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee is the Associate Professor and Head, Post Graduate Deptt.of English, Dum Dum Motijheel College Kolkata and Guest Faculty, Rabindra Bharati University & Reviewer in The Telegraph, The Statesman and Columnist in The Shillong Times, The Sentinel and may be contacted at profratanbhattacharjee@gmail.com.

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