‘Flowers and Monsters’ : Poems of Atindriyo Chakraborty reviewed by Ballari Ray Chaudhury.

‘Flowers and Monsters’ : Poems of Atindriyo Chakraborty reviewed by Ballari Ray Chaudhury.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote :

In the writings of a recluse . . . one always hears something of the echo of the wilderness, something of the murmuring tones and timid vigilance of solitude; in his strongest words, even in his cry itself, there sounds a new and more dangerous kind of silence, of concealment.

[Beyond good and Evil, trans. by Helen Zimmerman, Macmillan 1914]

 

– This would rightly serve a bonafide specimen towards reading ‘And those other ghosts of love’ by Atindriyo Chakraborty. Awaiting a tomorrow, when the brutal killings give rise to that incendiary text which pursues a deep rooted protest against the raw injustice planned by the state itself,  his relentless advocacy towards a new literary genre allows to bring forth a duologic collaboration of narrative in the poems. More like frescoes, the moving images underlying the text, the constant persuasion of the ‘real’ world outside the poet – justifies to confiscate Barthes’ s fundamentals of authorship –

 

“The author, when believed in, is always conceived of as the past of his own book: book and author stand, automatically on a single line divided into a ‘before’ and ‘after’. The author is thought to ‘nourish’ the book, which is to say that he exists before it, thinks, suffers, lives for it, is in the same relation of antecedence to his work as a father to his child.” [Barthes, the Death of the Author, 1977:145]

 

The poet retreats to a silent refusal and his treatment to the text is more of a commentator being a witness to events happening at the spur of a moment. To cite an example from his poems, we may go through the following excerpt:

 

Wish there was a space where I could let it out –

let everything out

and yet not be accountable for it. So much accounts

and accountancy eats the brain up. I just wish i

could spit fire and poison from my eyes and

mouth and everything else and I could burn

everything and get burned.

 

The clichéd identity of ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ faces a disapproval from the author. He is a disclaimer, speaking out uncut versions of the ‘negatives’ resplendent with the wounds and blunders, false inhibitions and fear parenchyama, developing out of different changing circumstances. As we read the lines, the commingling gingle of ‘I’ and ‘i’ do hereby adhere to offering a true manifesto of the poet’s confrontation with death and vandalism. His words serve as perquisites of drilling with the dialectics between spectacular commodity economy and unveiling the bleakest of social hegemonic structures within the cultural arena. Hence Atindriyo rejects the captive decorum of writing suave, passive and simply speaking with ‘himself’ in a pensive Eliot mood depicting “every word” as a “mask” [Nietzsche …]

The romance of tomorrows are nowhere. It’s a world of captive recollection of history and the present, social struggles of the Adivasi tribes in Bastar has been the poet’s vehement centres of research and coming in terms with the truer self.

 

beasts that pounce from fore

are easier to fight

but they, who have

clouds & curtains of fake sympathy

to hide behind

while ways of life, aesthetic propriety

and other endowments

that capital brings –

hold control, hold power.

[j’accuse / atindriyo.blogspot.in, Jan 7, 2018]

 

“And i sought to survive.

And may be, just maybe,

I sought the pain as well.”

 

Here three-fold lines with a bold font takes the speaker to the eye of the needle. Together both selves create identities with and without the prerogatives of living or surviving within hostile agencies. One is the seeker of life rotten at both ends, the other also beckons for suffering. Separate lines seem to move in a parallel allegory within structural norms. As an introductory message the poet had said –

“I have observed that things tend to just be there and live and / or die for themselves. that’s funny in a way. i have also observed that people are just like stoned fishes, that’s not funny in anyway. I’m hustling dead butterflies and tiny things that shine up this avenue now.”

[Introduction /And Those Other Ghosts of Love]

 

Being in a “combat zone”,* Atindriyo observed evidences following the protests and struggles of the tribes in and around his localities where canonization and debunking occur simultaneously. The caste ideologies behave as ‘dead butterflies’ or ‘stoned fishes’ as the poet realizes that hierarchy is forever reconstituting in new forms. Hence a multitude of cheap tracts leading to the ‘high’ enlightened and the ‘low’-life acts as a trigger to the poet’s narrative. Each developing moment moves to reconcile and rewind to a new emerging transient new moment cris-crossing different electron pairs in a splurge. No two emergence can be dealt at a time. So, a flux of cause-and-effect order persists in many poems –

 

“Machine place,

Smooth edges, smooth walls, smooth floors, smooth people,

Every thing’s perfect, and everything’s as lifeless as perfection can

Possibly be.”

 

The book centres around lines built too long to decipher a madness that causes repetition, or too brief to evoke a comment. ‘Nothing happens at any cost’ concepts are in–built parabolic movements within the startled cosmos. The age-old quantum mechanics does not apply, no electron theory can be stated as true. All interrogations prove eligible to be instantly dismissed by the reader. Atindriyo cannot be the reader’s choice, because his poems are a different signature altogether. The ‘I’ and ‘i’ are clubbed together, juxtaposed and wildly intersected at many staircases which may signify ways to unmask the signs of language – a  language which we need to speak to reach the eye of the needle, a vocabulary that hides a decadence that cannot be cured. It’s a shame that we are unable to unleash wounds that are created by histories of political power-wars, cold blooded murder operations, furies that cannot be uttered behind sound of silenced verses.

 

Against a backdrop of “frenzied genocide”* taking place in various villages in Bastar, being a witness to “violent systemic clampdowns on the communities of Bastar”,* the uncensored brutal killing procedures planned by the state, pursues a different mode of communication outrageously through logical attempts of a single verb ‘pouncing’ –

 

And i can see the owl staring at me for i don’t know how long

And i can see the city turning into a leopard at midnight

With dark black spots in the yellow blaze

And pouncing at the midnight

And pouncing at the sea

And pouncing at the ships in horizon

And pouncing at endlessness

And pouncing at me

But the window is to be stronger than the city

And i am to survive the city

And i am to survive its yellow blaze and dark spots

And i want it to see me surviving

but for all these to happen

 

Here the irregular usage of lines in a stanza proves a sudden retaliation of age-old violence inflicted on a whole generation to rebel against fascist approaches.  

*[‘Indomitable Bastar – An Eyewitness Account’ ]

 

We may wish to quote from Paul Blumberg in order to understand the impact of fascist politics on the poet who does not tame himself towards submission in desperation. Atindriyo”s some of the conspicuous compositions refute against this backdrop. Blumbergh says – “The main thrust of the autocratic organization is to drive the mature adult back into childhood. The mature individual strives to take an active part in his world, but the chain of command renders him passive. He seeks to be independent and to control his own beahviour, but as an employee he is rendered dependent and essentially lacking in control over his own behavour. The mature individual strives for the long time perspective . . . but . . . his time perspective is consequently shortened. He seeks to achieve relationships based on equality, but as a subordinate, he becomes just that, once again as in childhood.” [Paul Blumberg, Industrial Democrcy : The Sociology of Participation, p.131] On the contrary of this comparison, Atindriyo’s poems like the one in page 9 of the book says –  

 

I will never be a mannerquin – because my gaze can never ever be

as fixed and as theirs are, and my check can never be as cold as

theirs and, ah well

what the fuck am i talking about?

 

– ‘talking about’ mannequins and then negation of the thought communicates in two specific generic ways. ‘I will never be a mannequin’ signifies ‘I certainly can’ but I’m not. He puts the question as an answer, though deliberately inappropriate.

 

As the line begins with a ‘No’, the underlying signifying agent here is a positive “yes” concept. It says – “because my gaze can never ever be as fixed and as theirs are” i.e., the poet here affirms his being a “living” mannequin, his cheeks actually are “as cold as theirs”. A meagre space reiterates to speak “for” the topic, but in the form of  a rhetorical question. Then comes a longer space between lines. The poet continues as :

 

My haiku

was burning

for whatever it was worth.

 

These lines conform to a more realistic truth. A distracted apathy is wiser and more connotative. Here as a symbol growing between the text picture, a sudden and abrupt brevity in line – pattern. Long winding word-pathways seem less in numbers. As if a different orbit comes to light, endangered and punched back to a negligible character. As if doors are about to close at any precarious moment.

 

Yes, its that hour of the tiger again

A shapeless from, a formless shape, whatever

Nothing concrete, just an hour –

….

Lost in eyes that burn the dark.

And nothing else.

And this too, shall pass.       

 

Only a moment, but that would also “pass” into oblivion. Perhaps we should go back to Borge’s parable “Fauna of Mirrors”. The defeated, the destroyed or the subjugated class of people consigned to the other side of the mirror are nothing but the double of their conquerers. But Borges says that, one day that side of the mirror would eventually rise and put an end to the Empire’s hegemony.

 

Pg 15 marks a new turn over. It shows what modernity has in store for us.

“all the horizons

And soon, all will be put out, Whiffed away with one stroke of a hand.

….

People, you see, are a pretty lousy bunch that look similar, walk

similarly

And even talk about and think of similar things.

 

Here words log in to a different game. It signifies a power structure, the way politics works. We may feel this is in a way a caricature of democracy, a grotesque parody which when unmasked, would leave us with the hope of a rational method of execution of power. “One stroke of a hand spells out the paradox of fascist ideology of power. This very political sourcing has been conferred by the people, by “we”. It would be necessary to refer to Jean Baudrillard regarding his outstanding thesis in his chapter “Carnival And Cannibal” :

“It would perhaps also explain the general tendency of populations to delegate their sovereignty to the most innocuous; oligocephalic of their fellow citizens. It is a kind of evil genius that induces people to choose someone more stupid than themselves, both as a precaution against a responsibility you are always wary of………” [Carnival And Cannibal / Pg 15, Jean Baudrillard]

 

The repetition, the observing of ‘i’ and ‘I’ both at the same wave of speech, analogous structural patterns of human expression, emotion and melodrama constitutes a legal detachment of the poet. His pursuit remains undone. He is not finished as the pages end up, instead of trying to pull it to the brim. The poems does not agree to be complete or perfect in timing their end. Things are not yet settled, the market culture fails to furnish you as the reader to this text. When the monitors become a kind of idolatry, we know we have destroyed each of our lives’ ‘original’ – we are only the photocopies of ourselves and that is the submerged parody underlying the title : we have made a ghost of ourselves, and the poet valiant enough, plays a part to that virulent conspiracy.

 

Acknowledgements

 

  • I owe my heartiest gratitude to Mr. Shubham Roy Chowdhury for his special mention of the poet regarding a project undertaken by myself.

 

  • War Diaries / Jean Paul Sartre, Trns. Quintin  Hoare, Calcutta 2005, Seagull.

 

  • A sick planet / Guy Debord, Trns. Donald Nicholson – Smith, 2008, Seagull.

 

  • Carnival And Cannibal / Jean Baudrillard Trans. Chris Turner, 2010, Seagull.

 

  • http : // attindriyo.blogspot.in

 

  • Indomitable Bastar – An Eyewitness Account, Trans. Atindriyo Chakrabarty.  

 

  • Industrial Democracy : The Sociology of Participation / Paul Blumberg.

 

  • Beyond Good & Evil / Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Helen Zimmerman, Macmillan, 1914.

 

  • The Death of the Author / Roland Barthes / Intertexuality, Graham Allen,Routledge 2007.

 

  • And those other Ghosts of Love / Atindriyo Chakvarty, Antivirus, (Dhaka – Liverpool) 2013.                  

The chronicler of lost causes”as referred by Sunday Telegraph, 20 May 2018; Atindriyo has proved to be a meticulous observer of human relationships, culture and traditions linked within  personal perceptions. Being a bilingual poet and author, his research of changing strategies of the government towards the Adivasis of Bastar in Chattisgarh, the atrocities forced on the people every moment and the political warfare that causes the people to struggle for a survival has been rightly addressed in the book ‘ Indomitable Bastar’ : Account of an Eye- witness ( published by Bastar Solidarity Network, 2018. )Earlier in 2015, “Television of the Rotten Soul”,  an anthology of poems of Falguni Ray was published. In addition to these,  Atindriyo has studied deeply the culture and background of the Caryapad, the first specimen of poetry written in Bengali dating back to the 10 th century. His research and translation should fetch a wider readership in future

Dr Ballari Ray Chaudhury, author of 5 Bengali anthologies  alongwith 2 English  poetry  titles, pursued her literary career as researcher. Her field of interest has been poetry, translations of Poems from other languages,changing trends in  the history of Bengali literature with in socio-cultural perspective. After being awarded a doctoral degree, she visited center for linguistics, University of Oxford to work with Prof Aditi Lahiri and Dr Stephen Parkinson in a project  on July 2012. She has been a recipient of krittibas puraskar, the prestigious award given by Sunil Gongopadhyay, the renowned eminent stalwart of Bengali literature. She has been invited as a poet and panelist in the Dhaka Literary Meet this year for her contribution in poetry and research.