Feroze Varun Gandhi is finding his language within the impassioned political lexicon he has heard, used and brought changes to during the last 10 years. In politics, his speech has become gentler. The walk between the corridors of power and private spaces of life and poetry, have made Varun, 35, stumble upon the “inner truths” in verses. Stillness, his second collection of 51 poems published recently, is a profound journey in introspection, through sadness, solitude, love, hope, time, self and many other emotions and elements. He says, “I don’t read out my poems to anyone while I am writing them. Not even family members.”
Utero’ is the reservoir of retrospection and reconciliation with the self, and the “other” in self. The “I” becomes the eye to “see”, “seek” “watch” and “affirm”. The line “I rest upon broken roads” becomes the cradle of realisations, the “hunt” for love and the most beautiful in love. ‘In Utero’ snaps the umbilical cord between the present, and the past in ‘Residue’, perhaps the shortest poem. “When I was young; I fell on my heart; Both arms tied to the truth” (‘Residue’).
What would “safety” mean to a politician surrounded by guards and guns to protect him? The poet in Varun Gandhi ultimately finds solace and “safety” in words, duty (“The safest road is duty”— ‘To you’) and the loved ones (“If I could share the safety of your sighs”—‘In Utero’). ‘I write sounds’ shows the complex process of arriving at that “safety” through words, of words. “Words that spit and sneer, genuflect and retreat; I write all the people that ever hurt me”.
The effort to resurrect through words and language is clearly expressed. “Madness is a tongue; Silence is a debate” (‘If we must never meet again’). “But the same mind, Born over and over again” (‘Shadow’).
In ‘Rainkeeper’, the rhythm of an emotional tempest slows down, to rest. “My fight lay beside me”. There is an unseen audience, perhaps someone who is meant to take note of the words of courage that are held up, like a trophy. “Is it a surprise? That I’m still here; Long after you’ve left”. There is a proof of healing: “Looking after the rain in my mind.”
‘Inside’ takes you into a boxed inner space, of the inside. Pretentions are discarded rather strongly, not ruthlessly. The tone of patience wearing out is conveyed in peace, not passion. “I’ve taken off my mask; It was starting to bleed”. There is music of unrest. ‘Inside’ gives a hollowing perception of the darkness, and of a sit-in against solitude, against night, “night after night”, against a ruffled sense of time: “I lie in a patchwork of the impossible present”.
The physicality of love mingles with the sense of intimacy felt and unfelt in ‘Love’. “Don’t you remember we met in the serenity of your lips”. Love is painted on a wide canvas. “I’m bound to you; By the power that comes with being solitary” (‘Love’) leads you to a cold realisation of the warmth: “Love is a frozen word; I ride through it” (‘Closer’).
An overbearing sense of tiredness and fatigue inches away. The stillness remains, moving and still.
Varun treats failure with respect and readiness. The sense of anger is muted, retaliation restrained, confession controlled and reticence screaming in his poems. He looks back at hurt not with indignation but with the stoicism of a passing audience. The poem ‘Grey’ is a triumphant effort at mixing thoughts with colours on a palette of red, blue, white, grey, and “colour”. Photographs appended to the poems have been sourced from several international photographers. Varun has put them together with the help of Ishita Yadav, his colleague.