The Burdened Canvas
Amitendu Bhattacharya
CENTRAL TIME by Ranjit Hoskote Penguin Books India, 2017, 144 pp., 225
April 2017, volume 41, No 4

The skilled restorer of porcelain will collect not only the visible chips of a broken pot but also the dust
on the table where it rested,’ is a statement made by sociologist Richard Sennett and serves as the epigraph of the poems in the present volume. It proclaims the microscopic and macroscopic range of Hoskote’s compositions.

In spite of all the breakages and ravages inflicted on objects by the passage of time, the statement also asserts the conspicuous continuity of time, of the synchronicity of past, present and future, or as T.S. Eliot would put it, albeit less definitively: ‘Time present and time past/ Are both perhaps present in time future/ And time future contained in time past’.

All people and things are caught up in—without their realizing it—the contending pulls of fixities and continuities which result in the production of illusions, a situation well explained by the example of ‘zoetrope’, a word which has been utilized as the banner under which the first twenty poems of the book have been grouped. In the very first poem ‘Platform Directions’, Hoskote skilfully shows movement and stasis, fluid and arrested time to be coexistent:

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