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Dr. Nandini Sahu's The Other Voice: An enduring poetic legacy
Dr. Nandini Sahu of Kavinandini blogspot is an outstanding poetic talent whose maiden poetic volume The Other Voice is a significant milestone in the history of Indian English Poetry.

DR. NANDINI Sahu, the winner of the Shiksha Rattan Purashkar for her contribution to Higher Education in India is more a poet than an editor. More an editor than a writer. More a writer than a critic. Her poems are personal but the social and spiritual dimensions of creativity are mingled in them. Some of the poems are monologues and her own poetic personae is her main character.

But in The Other Voice she shows an eye and ear for exploring experience as verse. Words dance on her pen’s tongue as she writes in the very opening poem. Language is like a flooded river for Dr. Nandini. Poetry from the hedges of her mind. In her poems, the poet speaks about the gentle art of looking through a concrete experience of the abstract. It adds a mystic dimension to her poetry. The eminent poet Jayanta Mahapatra says about her: ”It is a longing for identity for words that will indicate her own place in our world." She is a humanist to the core, and a rebel sometimes. But the most important ingredient of her ‘purple’ poetry is tangible sorrow as in one of her poems:

“A man was sitting sad /I did not know him, /Only knew the masquerading sorrow./I  smiled at him./He did not know my  smiles/Only knew the sharing/I extended my hands/We did not know each other’s hands/Only knew walking hand-in-hand/I picked a handful of salt water/I did not know his tears./Only knew thirst quenched, hearts drenched.”

A very short poem. But it is an inquiry inward. Acute pain finds a voice in Dr. Nandini’s poems. Here the picturisation of sorrow is unique and it is marked by wonderful poetic tenderness. Sometimes, poetry gives the relief to her sorrow-stricken soul. The poetess bleeds secretly in the cool January night. The purple sun appears naughty to her and the night is repulsive. But even here Dr. Nandini keeps her eyes open to the beauty of Nature: “butterflies /extending  a tiny hand and a purple smile.”

The poet is ecstatic about her experiences and rejoices at the beauty of the creation.At the same time she keeps her fingers on the sensitive issues like mental slavery of the human and subjugation of women.

“I am not myself/I am not alone Arjuna’s love/Nor Krishna’s /Nor even Karna’s lone victim/Nor the diadem-studded queen/None of these I am/I embrace ‘all I bleed in ‘all’.

This is her other voice. Here the poet crosses the limited boundary of the personae.

At other moments this same voice becomes mystical:

Oh fire !/I am fire/I am born of fire, my life is fire/I know not , if my death be fire too!/Sycophants, one and all, encircle me/I embrace, ’all I bleed in ‘all’. Or when she says, “Death measures itself  in two drops,” it contains philosophic wisdom.

From the linguistic perspectives also the poems are really interesting. So simple and lucid they are, their deceptive simplicity contains gems of wisdom. She is not abstract and in a poem entitled ‘An Opened Frog’ she is so graphic in her details that one can visualize it concretely on a dissecting table. But this is how a critic tears open a poetic creation. The tone of irony submerges with the picturesque metaphor related to the dissection of a frog:

You dissect my /Diary , my poems, blood/Past , present and future:/Of your filthy relations/Upon my cherished, superior , family history/Much beyond your own…. /And tear me.

But the poet keeps patient :” I keep silent,just silent.”

Even silence is so meaningful in the poetic vision of Dr. Nandini. She silently relishes being a woman. But that she bleeds inside or writhes in pain is clear from the picture that she gives in her poem:”woman smiles /sucking the venom of life”. The image of Shiva is femininised. Lord Shiva of Hindu mythology drank poison that was destroying the universe and saved it and became ‘Neelkantha’(the Blue throated).

A woman also patiently bears so much and drinks poison like Lord Shiva to save the society, family and her dear and near relations. This is a beautiful use of Hindu myths for highlighting feminine capabilities.In this way , in poem after poem Dr.Nandini shows that she profoundly sensitive, fresh and quite innovative in her approach. As a poet, she writes elegantly and her seemingly mesmeric personality is reflected  in the spiritual and mercurial poems marked by a strong personal appeal.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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