Going Native Authors

The narrative of silence

Talent for words Sukrita Paul Kumar  

Since the word – the sole instrument of all sort of communication through its inherent potentiality of producing gibberish noises, brings alive a mesmerising sense of breaking off and this overpowering quietude prompted a number of distinguished authors and poets like Franz Kafka, Samuel Becket, Keats, Octavia Paz and Pablo Neruda to imagine “literature beyond word”. The final act of expression betrays the lasting silence which motivated Becket to assert, “More and more my language appears to me like a veil which one has to tear apart in order to get to those things (or the nothingness) lying behind it.”

In the final reckoning, language no longer serves the purpose and it becomes a stumbling block instead. The inadequacy of the medium put prominent painters such as Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and like in a quandary and they discussed how their means of expression – paintbrush and canvass- betrayed them.

Now the less-admired narrative of silence wrapped in engrossing brevity finds an enthusiastic protagonist in Sukrita Paul Kumar, an eminent poet, widely- acclaimed critic, translator and celebrated painter who has a dig at all those who vouch for proliferation of words. Sukrita’s creative dexterity acquaints with astutely executed and nuanced poems in which incredibly words not necessarily live in harmony and only a rope of mutual subversion binds together.

Sukrita, gifted with an enormous talent for words gives a gripping account of leaving something unsaid or unexplained, says: “muteness of words, persistent silence lurking behind the lines, and unoccupied space between stanzas constitute my world and I deliberately try to produce a multi-layered narrative of solitude . The distinguished poet meticulously spells out the creative contours of silence in an interview that appeared in her book Samay Ki Kasak, which carries the translation of her 30 poems.

A well known translator Rekha Sethi rendered her poems into Hindi with remarkable ease and her translations do try to capture the vehicle and tenor of the poems which transpose the viewers /listeners into psychological space. This space denotes Zen like mental situation where mundane occurrences melt away and a persistent feeling of bliss becomes visible. The grisly reality of the contemporary life provides us with a plethora of words but they are to be used prudently. Sukrita’s densely textured poems exude their meaning slowly and manifest her awe-inspiring capacity to employ a diverse array of styles. She recounts her honest internalisation of experiences that egg on her creativity. In her poems words assume a certain subversive function and her poem Sarjana Ke Tanao Mein presents varying perceptions on the process of creativity. Creativity always prompts her to go beyond oneself and there is no room for turning back. In the remaining time, the poet trails around with herself as nothing exists to look ahead.

Examining gender

Gender equity is usually believed to be a subject of anxiety or a site of consternation but Sukrita’s poems imbued with enticing vocabulary (a quality that is remarkably retained even in translation) examine how gender is perceived in the backdrop of deep set cultural mores and why the society gives assent to a fundamental inequality among its members. The plight of regressed human beings brings forth an evocative prologue and the poet tries to understand how can cruelty and self-interest be replaced with kindness and generosity. Sometimes the act of writing generates vexation of pain and leaves the narrator of the poems to look for the space to write and for her writing is both necessary and impossible.

Her many poems such as Daiyre Ke Bahar, Pahari Ratein, Shabdon Ki Wapsi, Guru, Chudiyan Pahanne Ki Kala, Yadein, Goongepan Ke Geet, Jagte Sapne, Purane Dost and Ek Ankahi Katha present a soothing melange of boom and banes of emotional solitude but contrary to common poetic conviction, her oeuvere not necessarily breathes nostalgia. Her poetry is an antidote to mushy notion of the art that gained currency in our post-modern world. Her poems betray aesthetic and cultural vibrancy across a huge sweep of time and Rekha’s competent rendering into Hindi makes for a compelling read.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:12:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/the-narrative-of-silence/article24995623.ece

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