Through her poetry, Urshila Chanana hopes to draw attention to values and forces that bind people together
“Baat nazariye ki nahin, nazariye ke andaz ki hai. Baat wahi ho beshak. Peshani na taney, kuch hans ke kahein. Mod naya tto lein, mod kuch aur hi baney” (Multiple perceptions are valid, and can be positively accepted. When suggested with subtlety, perspectives could, in fact, bring enriching and interesting facets to the fore), reads the opening page of the book, “Nazariye” (Perspectives), a compilation of poems written by Urshila Chanana, faculty member, English Department, Indraprastha College, New Delhi. The book was launched recently in the Capital by Salman Khurshid , Union Minister for Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs, and Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Mallik.
Bringing out very delicate nuances of human emotions, the book raises rhetorical questions through its poems about the confused mindset and behaviour of the modern man and the voids created among people as a consequence. Said Urshila, “The book encompasses a wide spectrum of thoughts that all of us have all the time. Especially in the context of India and Pakistan, the book catechizes how and why people have divided themselves across geographical boundaries. Why people who once used to be sons of the same land have created walls between them. The book is a soulful journey of the human mind, socially rooted in contemporary issues.”
Poems like ‘Khauff', ‘Faasley', ‘Tajaljal' and ‘Ek Chhor' question the divisions and strife among people. The poem ‘Faasley', emphasising the cosmic nature of the universe, stresses the need for co-existence; “Sad divisions in geography barriers and fences overlook the unity of cosmos. One sun, one moon and one sky; unity is the law of Nature. Still we are divided. Why can't we co-exist? Why the lurking darkness in our hearts?” Answering the dilemma, the poem ‘Khauff' reasons, “Why enchain our minds with the fear of the unknown; the yet to come or what may not come to pass.”
“We are the culprits. Being unified is the cosmic law. Still we divided ourselves, grew distant from one another. We have made compartments, perimeters amongst ourselves, out of fear, worries and uncertainties. We even change our paths, future course of actions due to this,” Urshila expanded.
The poem ‘Baad Uskey', describes how people have grown indifferent to each other, saying, “Words of love and appreciation cannot be heard by one who has passed on from this world. Why not say it on the face, while he/she is alive.” “Individuals have grown so formal and strange towards each other that they communicate mechanically. It is a sense of déjà-vu every time at social gatherings, weddings and funerals. People speak so artificially, empty of emotions,” Urshila said.
The book focuses on other aspects of human psychology as well, like love, anger and happiness.
Born and raised in Lahore, before migrating to Delhi during Partition, Urshila said Urdu was a cherished interest she inherited from her father. The book written in both Urdu and Hindi, according to her, was also “a tribute to the beautiful language that Urdu is; the language of love.” Urshila lamented that the language was lying in a state of neglect. “It is a pity. What used to be the official language of our country is dying slowly today. It was the interflow of Hindustani (Urdu and Hindi) that connected people together, weaving across religions, castes and colour, under the auspices of the nation called India. In today's rat race, people are losing the precious jewels of culture (Urdu and Hindi),” she said. Getting detached from the language was also a major reason behind the growing differences among people, she further added.
“Contentions, conflicts, difference of opinions, confrontations; one point to concentrate and all issues will be clear. Man is not focusing on that, which is co-existence. The sense of collectiveness went dead with time. Let's cut the deadwood of the past and start afresh. Build bridges of friendship, peace and love,” Urshila concluded.