It is not often that you come across books that showcase more than one talent. In the blogging circles, artists like Mallika Chari, Deepa Gopal Sunil and Sethi Krishan Chand also write verses. However, their first passion is their art. In respect of the author of "Nature at my Doorstep", Latha Prem Sakhya, I believe her first love is poetry followed by painting. Her maiden book "Memory Rain" was a poetry collection published in 2008 by Roots and Wings. She has published subsequently a third book "Vernal Strokes" through Partridge publishing.
In the book under discussion,the author has chosen to include prose also along with poetry and painting. The one thing that is clear even on a cursory glance of the book is that it is steeped in nature. There is a narration by the protagonist Kanaka, tracing her life from childhood, adolescence and later years. She grew up amidst nature with plenty of flora and fauna. Seeing the sheer authenticity of the narrative, one suspects that there is an autobiographical streak in the narrative of the author.
The reader can be initially confused. Does one read the book page by page or focus first on the poetry or should it be the narrative followed by poetry and painting? As for me, I started reading the story of Kanaka and was hooked. I had no choice but to read the narrative fully before biting into the poetry and relishing the painting. Another reader may choose differently. After all when a feast is laid out, some instantly go in for the sweet while others prefer to save it for the last.
The narration about the life and times of Kanaka is full of anecdotes featuring the naughty times of childhood, the joint family scenario and Kanaka's love for plants and animals. This excerpt gives an idea of the content of the prose "Belonging to a large family, with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, her home was full of people.Life was always filled with excitement, fun and laughter, sometimes tinges with tears and sorrows."
Now lets us also take a look at Kanaka's thoughts in later life- "Kanaka had always been haunted by the other self that resided deep within her. A wild, wild self, curbed and imprisoned within the inner space of her sophisticated self."
Moving on to the poetry, the poet's sensitive nature can be seen in the poem titled "Why are you so crazy"?
Why are you so crazy?
Matters negligible to others
Trouble and torment you
What makes you so sensitive, lassie
To others' as well as your problems?
In the poem "New Nest" she writes
In a tiny nest, the she birds's pride-
Geared up for her first flight,
with mounting excitement
Wings gathering balance
The relationship of the poet with birds and nature in general is revealed by the lines
On my kitchen veranda,
He pecks on the rice daintily,
While I watch with awe and wonder,
Nature at my door step.
Now, for a glimpse of the poet's love poems:
The azure sky,
Streaked with gold-
In an orange -blue sari,
Made me yearn to drape it
And waltz down the street,
Showing off to my friends
Your Love for me
Your love for me
Is like the air I breathe,
I do not see but I feel.
It keeps me sailing
Softens my speech.
Fills me with generosity,
To forgive and to forget-
Even soul hurts.
There are many more impactful poems in the book including "The Lord of the Night". However, I will finally quote a few lines from a poem that caused an ache in my heart. It discusses putting away of a sick animal/ pet (mercy killing?)
Shall I Let her Go?
My heart bleeding for her,
I threw the noose around her neck
The animal trust and love unconditional
A Judas, I betrayed her
With the lethal shot
Whimpering she fell down
Her large eyes fixed on me.
Tears pouring down my cheeks
I hastened away, cursing my life, my job.
The paintings in the book are a combination of those on oil on canvas and the black & white caricatures of nature in all her splendour. I am not reproducing any of those here; you will simply have to grab a copy from the publishers to savour them.
To conclude,"Nature at my Doorstep" is a wonderful treat satisfying the pallet and tastes of most readers as it makes available a heady mix of prose, poetry and painting. Readers of all ages are bound to find the book interesting and engaging. One can have an eventful journey amidst nature while at the same time enjoying the varied hues of life.
Nature at my Door Step : Published in 2011
Author: Latha Prem Sakhya
Publisher: Roots & Wings
ISBN : 978-81-909900-3-5