Minoo Vania has translated life’s special moments into verse
“Birds and fools fly, lunatics jump off airplanes…”
Minoo Vania should know, because he has jumped off aircraft, at least a thousand times. He was a parachute jump instructor in the Indian Air Force. Did this daring and (to many of us) frightening profession turn him into a poet?
Not really, says Vania, on the occasion of the launch of his collection of poems called A Vista Ahead (AVA). Born in 1935, Vania says he was always in the habit of jotting down thoughts on scraps of paper and leaving them lying around. “My mother would collect them and store them into a shoe box.” When he married Bulbul, his mom handed over the box to her and she continued the practice.
Vania declares that he never had any intentions of publishing. “But a few bullies amongst my closest friends made me do it,” he smiles.
AVA is a collection of 50 poems. He has many more. When asked who is his inspiration in literature, he says, “May be, it is the Romantics.” Indeed, many of his poems in the collection speaks of mountains, woods, streams, cobwebs….The joy he feels in the company of Nature shines through. But, along with the rejoicing is deep anguish in the way mankind is wreaking havoc with her. He sounds a warning, beautifully, in the last poem of this collection, A Leap Into Oblivion. It was written after a tiger census at Periyar, where he spotted the majestic cat. It describes the awe he felt when he sighted a tiger that swam ashore and in two bounds vanished into the forest. “…the tiger today/ Is just two bounds away/ From vanishing into oblivion/And we who watched fascinated/Must surely follow. There is also a moving a paean to Dr. Salim Ali, in a poem with the same name.
Vania’s long and eventful career in the Armed Forces (he is a Shaurya Chakra and a Vayu Sena Medal awardee) finds resonance in his poems. In Crimson Snow, he asks, “What am I doing, he thinks,/In this moonscaped land/Desperately trying to/ Cling to life even as I/Search for a fellow human/Whom I must kill/ To stay alive?”
Poverty, injustice, hypocrisy all find a place in Vania’s verse, but still, underlining all that is a note of optimism and faith that man will transcend his baser instincts and the world will be a better place to live in.
A Vista Ahead is just the beginning, if his bullying friends have anything to do with it. And there is already a talk of another collection — perhaps to be called Verses from a Shoebox?
A Vista Ahead is published by Writers Workshop and costs Rs 150. Copies are available with Minoo Vania at 99408-49588 or on www.writersworkshopindia.com