‘… tuk-tuk … tuk-tuk … tuk-tuk …’, that’s how emotions are in the latest Hoshang Merchant’s work curated by poet Kazim Ali. The language of love gets explored subtly and consistently as they are introspected from within. To my reading this book poses the poet beyond the wave of ‘gay-poet of India’. The collection sketches Hoshang Merchant (hereafter H.M.) as a poet who has been intertwined with love but remains distinct from it. Love as confiding in nature to that of confining has come out clear in poems like
‘Marine Conversation’. Silence plays an important part in all the poems, and this comes out as a reading of one’s life from a critical distance. A journey which one undertook for infinity and halts to look back in order to project on the future of what we call love, or the lack thereof.
It is like an intercepted message
It is a feather swirling emptily
in a dusty trough
It is the sun’s broken yolk
It is this empty room
where I write this— ‘Broken Love’
The serpentile coiling of love into despair and throughout flashing a streak of hope against hopes, somewhat makes the journey marinate into the future. Love as a sea, as a broken bridge, as the cascading ambiguity of a half-moon shone night—all of them melt in most of the poems. There is a childlike curiosity in the quest of the infinite. Issue of class becomes underlined as well, although H.M’s poetry, like Jibananda Das’s traveller who has walked to the moon and back for eternity, the shadow of a middle class ‘bhadralok’ peeps out of the gesture of love. Like ‘Banalata Sen’ of Das, the poet’s love finds itself in spirit, beyond the mortal computation of failure and loneliness. And it is in this expression of abundance (of curated loneliness) that the middle class sensibility plays a part. The contemporary lover whose name can be from the ancient to the modern, s/he can be from Iran to Bengal and beyond. The person is indeed a victim of contemporary society in which he cannot live life on his own terms. This affects the person within the poet which leads to this outburst on pages.
All things decay and die
Stars fall out of the night sky
I have come home to the same bed
with the mosquito-nets
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