Geography of Tongues by Shikha Malaviya

ImageI picked up the book for its intriguing title and cover page. It begins and ends in a chronological order of the author’s meanderings through life. The nostalgia in her work entwines the reader as well. She leads with an ardent intent to share her deepest memories and contemplations as much as one is led by a childlike curiosity to know her world. At the end what we have is all that she holds inside her. Her language is charming and effortlessly switches between the geographies her life has touched.

The tongue in the verses at large retains the flavour of nativity, dipping and swirling in native language with fervour. The author has touched the geography of the globe at several points and geographies within geographies; the places have left their flavours on her tongue that make up a palatable collection of verses.

There is a natural rise and fall of emotions like that of octaves in a musical rendition which is unique given that the book is a record of her life. This book finds a connection with one and all and more so with the current trend where one’s entire lifetime is not necessarily spent in one country alone. With pangs of nativity tugging at the heart one crosses the borders for various reasons but the flavours of the native land latch on to the tongue and linger forever. Also the poems find a connection with those who haven’t trotted the globe which leaves them with a sense of relief of not having to follow the mantra of survival in an alien land. The last pages of the book take us to the origin of passion and diversity in her poems. It is evident that she chose not to chant the mantra of survival. The poetry breaks occasionally into prose poetry where one need not read between the lines and it appears to be on purpose, that nothing more or less was intended to be left for interpretation. My reading called for pauses to take in the earnestness and intensity, the gravity of it being such.

Though every poem is special in its own way, my personal picks are, India calling, arc of fallen lash, feasting and fasting, because our cells…, blue, if Sita… and the language I dream in.


About Daya Bhat

“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.” - Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha "ಕ್ಷಣಕ್ಕೊಂದು ಕತೆ, ದಿನಕ್ಕೊಂದು ಚಿತ್ತಾರ, ಸಾವಿರ ಕನಸು. ನನಸುಗಳು ತಿರುತಿರುಗಿ ವಲಸೆ ಬರುವ ಹಕ್ಕಿಗಳು. ಮಾವಿನ ಮರದ ಸುತ್ತ ತೀರದ ಚಿಲಿಪಿಲಿ, ತುಳಸಿಯ ಮೈತುಂಬ ಬಾಡದ ಚಿಗುರು. ನಿಲುಕದ ನಕ್ಷತ್ರಗಳಿಗೆ ಅಲೆಮಾರಿ ಬದುಕು." - ಚಾವಡಿ
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