The book of verse christened Stillness, penned by Feroze Varun Gandhi, is a turbulent journey blanketed by hushed quietness. A strain of melancholy runs through the entire 51 poems dedicated with a love palpable enough to hold in the palm of one’s hand to the poet’s maternal grandmother, Amteshwar Anand, “The great love of my life”, as he with imperishable love puts it, before he commences his, forlorn odyssey.
The poems are reams of thought, symphonic in many parts, painted like a picture that speaks to you, whispering akin to a painting where the viewer can actually see the whoosh and twirl of the dance, bringing to mind Degas, the Impressionist painter whose work depicted not stillness but sashaying images with shafts of light dancing in tune with the composition. The darkness of the poet’s mind shows up in the furrowing questions that deepen with each progressing poem, colliding and finally, perhaps, crashing silently, tiredly in an unspeaking and sleepless grey wave of a bottomless ocean.
Stillness opens with Control, a poem capturing maybe both the poet’s sense of fatigued resignation as well as anguished acceptance.
“I am not lost / Waiting to be tamed /I have become / the residue of the chase.”
Inside again painfully manifests the inner turmoil gnawing away at the innards, however, with not a sand-print of self-pity to display. This is a heart-ripping lament, despite the stoic matter-of-factness, as seen by these lines: “I lay memories down / On this forsaken path / I’ve taken off my mask / It was starting to bleed”
In Stillness, even from afar, a decisive distance, one can hear myriad shades of blue, red, grey, white and other varied hues running into one another with disrupting regularity until one feels one’s chest shall explode.
“Time’s a waste of mind / And the wounded mind / Leading me to an island, / And if only this year / Brought with it a wisdom / Immune to the weightness of ages of dried blood”,
These lines, yet again, mirror both intensive and extensive experiential travails of a path riddled with many edged pebbles, cobbling truths and untruths. The personal transcends into a universal expanse of experience stomping relentlessly in everydayness. Feroze Varun, with a painter’s eye, creates visual multi-coloured illustrations on a layered emotional and intellectual palette, both in texture and tone.
Nature, in many profoundly endearing shapes, comes to shore in the book, not however, in the Wordsworth genre but in a Coleridge-esque manner.
“And in our life doth nature live, Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud”
“I write days that end before they start” in the poem I Write Sounds is haunting and enigmatic, where the writer steps forth as a loner in a voice speaking many words concurrently; words resolute, indignant, hopeful, each jostling for their own space under the incoherence of clouded and unclouded skies, reiterating his understanding that “All doors are Mirrors”.
“He grew up in believing in tomorrow”, in the poem Truth, touches a wound, which bound in two parts, has an omniscient will of its own and thus, refuses to heal. Want is the final poem of this collection, and in its brevity, possibly holds on, with tender tenacity, to the essence of the preceding ones.
“What does it mean to want? / Is it a license to go forth / expand and conquer / Is it a dilution of the core / Of the essence / Is it animalism? In breaking the mould, / Roaming hungered / Hunted and scared; feverish / Not knowing whether / The prey lies within.”