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Meditations On The Past And The Present

Sucharita Sengupta

By Saleem Peeradina
Valley Press, UK, 2016, Pg 66, Rs. 1399


If you are looking for poetry that is as razor sharp as it is dreamy, as real as it is bound to imagination, then Saleem Peeradina’s Final Cut is for you. Decidedly urbane, Peeradina’s contemplations force the reader to pay attention to what has been in front of them all along, and yet has been taken for granted. He begins with striking the right note between flights of imagination and reality checks. There is a third alternative. Place this sheet at one end of a panoramic screen and proceed to jump off the brink of our universe into neighbouring galaxies spiralling outward, endlessly. Shrunk, relegated to a corner, our universe is virtually erased, leaving us adrift. Here. far beyond imagination’s reach, infinity unravels leaving us speechless. But seeking solace in myths will get us nowhere. We have to make the journey back to reclaim the Earth.  The tone of hardened reality undergirds nearly every composition in this volume. It is not a bitter tone though, but simply one that exhorts us to look better at the most familiar things that we are surrounded with. Perhaps that is why he dwells so much upon death. I use the word death here to identify not merely the final act of passing on, but all that which leads towards this finality. Old age and illness receive particular attention. In ‘The View From Seventy’, he emphasizes the acceptance of illness, of alien matter that will necessarily make the human body it’s own and lead it towards the ultimate destiny of death. The poems on illness, as he acknowledges in his preface, is inspired by literary works on illness and medicine. Science finds artistic license, pathogens ride on poetry, and death is the scene stealer.  The body appears in the poems in their most physical manifestations. An elderly woman writes to her friend about the body confined due to disease and marginalization after a full life of work and familial duties. This is in continuation of the general themes of melancholia. But the body is also a wonder in it’s foetal stage, it is steeped in desire. It is the site of social, economic and political battles, as in the composition ‘The Body in Question’: …Body painted, perfumed, jewelled and tattooed. Wet skin in wet clothes. The veiled body kept in the dark. Body married to Christ. Paraded on stage, ...

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