My bathroom door at home requires an extra push to be opened. This frustrates me a little, because the one in my hostel functioned differently –all I had to do was unbolt it. I think about how we know things. And people. I know that if I position myself between the beige sofa and the plants in my hall, I can watch the sun sink into a patch of green trees, between two skyscrapers.
I am so accustomed to a certain kind of life, but change is here. She is sitting with me by the staircase, waiting for me to walk through the door. When I’d wake up in the morning and see my roommate still in bed, I knew I could afford to go back to sleep – she always rises with the sun. Back home in Bombay, I have been robbed of this unique way of telling the time.
It didn’t sink in until the grocery store, staring down a $9 jar of pickles. And it was only when I got to the candy aisle that I turned around and said, “I graduated!” out loud, defending the non-essential purchase. After that, I said “I graduated” to everything. Organic apple cider from Atkins, an extra bottle of Arizona, recipes from home via BooksActually’s free international delivery for any 3 local titles.
The family Zoom celebration spiralled into politics: crackling voices fighting for the same cause, but to be louder about it. When the lack of a Premium plan ended the conversation at precisely 40 minutes, nobody was dismayed.
By Revathi Ganeshsundaram
My brother and I grew up on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore as my father was an academic there from the mid-1960s until his retirement in the late 1980s. Those were undoubtedly the happiest years of my life, not the least because of the quiet and semi-wild surroundings of the house in which we lived.
Revisiting the fascinating strands of rich culture, Sarabjeet Garcha interlaces his personal experiences into universal experiences of humanity. Love is a recurrent theme in the anthology Lullaby of the Ever-Returing, a theme which is craftily manifested not only in finely- woven tapestry of poetry but also in prose which are at one level belong to the exclusive cultural experiences of the Sikh community but at another to the entire humanity. Both in the pieces of prose and in poetry, what Sarabjeet encapsulates is the multifacetedness of love which is beautified and made colourful by the powerful human agent. Although love is a universal experience, it has been aesthetically situated in the Sikh culture adding a unique cultural dimension to it yet preserving the universal character of it.
A significant aspect of love at Sarabjeet’s hand is the portrayal of its social manifestation, by and large, defined by the moral codes of a given society. Sarabjeet amply manifest and reinforces the universal adage that a writer or a poet cannot afford to be universal without being local or without being firmly rooted in one’s own culture. The contours of Sarabjeet’s discourse of love are defined by a diction enriched with powerful metaphors and imagery masterly employed in poems and in the pieces of prose in the anthology. In essence, it is a literary feast that one would partake with delight.
Garcha was interviewed by Sri Lankan journalist Ranga Chandrarathne.
In a way, your poems encapsulate not only your personal life experiences but also the milieu you live in and the complex system of beliefs and culture in general. For instance, the poem Your Handwriting, though a personal experience, evokes the universal feeling of love and also epitomises the rich imagination on the part of the narrator. Your comments..?
Garcha: Anything most personal is necessarily universal, and all universal feelings can be traced back to certain fundamental emotions. They are the same everywhere and so is their perception, but their expressions vary. It’s the permutations of these expressions that give rise to novelty and freshness, the key elements that make poetry work. Nothing’s more universal and more universally understood or misunderstood — depending on how you look at it — than love. And it is so much more than just a feeling. The poem you refer to does not just point to the handwriting of the person it is dedicated to, but also to that of the much dreaded but equally celebrated Moving Finger of providence or destiny, for which the Hindi word praarabdha sounds better to me. Besides being interested in what this finger writes, I am fascinated by the looks of what it writes, by how life unfolds itself to us layer by layer, by the way these micro, or say nano, revelations affect and change us, and change us for good, irreversibly.