By Debakanya Haldar
The advent of autumn always brings with it an innate sense of solitude and the smell of the approaching winter. Such is the idea present in the autumnal season of the human life as well. This is the prevalent emotion in Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay’s second collection of poems, Managing the Journey through Rough Terrain. What is most interesting about this collection is that even though it dwells mostly on the sentiments of loss and longing that become the inevitable part and parcel of old age, this collection of poems promises to appeal to the emotional recesses of the mind, irrespective of the reader’s age.
The collection opens with a poem entitled, “Old Age Should Rave and Burn at Close of Day”, which allows the poet to make his position clear in front of his audience — he is not afraid to “rage against the dying of the light.” Thus begins the reader’s journey into a world seen through the spectacles of a matured poet enriched with experiences. The poet skillfully strikes a balance between the nostalgia of the past – “Images of those whom I loved flashed by” (“A Glass of Margarita at Hand”) –and the anticipation for an unknown future – “How many more do I have to overtake before my remains go up in smoke?!” (“Yet Another Gmail”) The poet weaves lucid and rich description of the mundane aspects of nature, thus supplementing his own personal experiences with a myriad of vivid images. My favourite of these have to be the description of the old laburnum tree in the poem “The Laburnum Tree in Madhuwanti” –
“It stands like a sentinel on the parade ground, ramrod straight,
Displaying the many coloured ribbons pinned to its chest,
Witness to past glory of years of braving Santiniketan’s
Mr. Chattopadhyay’s journey in his second collection of poems is unabashedly personal and yet, he never fails to include the reader in this “journey through the rough terrain”, to allow the reader to make it his or her own.
The reviewer is a final year M.A. English student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She appears as a guest author with the short story “The Last Meeting” in the collection of short stories, Wrinkles in Memory, published by LiFi Publications in 2016. Debakanya is originally from Kolkata and currently lives in Delhi.