by R K Biswas
An unquiet rises in the midst of an everyday morning. Rises from the milk pot, the dishes, onion, aubergine, dining table, cupboards that stare back, tea leaves at the bottom of a cup. Even a keyhole. Beneath the day’s skin lies anger, sharp enough to impale the world.
Welcome to the world of Menka Shivdasani’s poetry. Seemingly quiet in their approach, Shivdasani’s poems take a hard look at the world both immediate to her and beyond. With themes larger than home and hearth, yet embedded in the minutiae, her poetry turns moments into pauses. It takes a poet of long experience to create such disquiet through such subtlety. But then Shivdasani is no newbie. Encouraged and mentored by the late Nissim Ezekiel, who she met as a teenager, Shivdasani has been writing poetry for decades. She was also the founding member of The Poetry Circle in Mumbai, where many well-known poets of today gathered when they first started out.
Safe House, brought out by Poetrywala, an imprint of Paperwall Media and Publishing, India, is a slim volume comprising thirty-nine poems. The book is small and slim enough to fit into a coat pocket or a small ladies handbag. The cover (photograph by Hemant Divate and design by Shilpa Dinesh) takes a Dali-esque look at a house’s façade. The surface so wobbly, can it be safe?