(India, 1972)   

Prabhat (born 1972) is a writer of children’s short fiction, poetry and drama. Born in Raisana (Karauli), he lives presently in Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. He has published five books for children. His songs, poems, stories and plays for children have also been published in several magazines.

There is a distinct cadence in the seven poems published here. The apparent simplicity and artlessness constitute, the reader realises, a conscious strategy to evoke a landscape of one’s growing years. Interestingly, despite the poet’s obvious nostalgia for less complicated ways of belonging, there is no easy romanticism at work. It is a past with its share of grim realities – festering relationships, impoverishment, loneliness and death.

The poet does not shy away from the complexity of this inheritance. For all its ‘torment’, he recognises that this past has also endowed life with other enduring legacies: the memory of an unsentimental but rooted sense of community; the comforting rituals of domesticity; the tough matter-of-fact survival mode of peasant life; and the possibility of laughter in the face of death. The image of the broom performing its daily routine of trivial consequence, the aunt who weeps and then breaks into helpless laughter beside her dead husband – all these become reminders of the cyclical rhythms of life and death, fertility and fallowness, engagement and withdrawal, none of it glorified, but none of it repudiated either.

In his short insightful article to Prabhat’s work, Giriraj Kiradoo points out that the notion of ‘settlement’ is a recurrent one in this poetry. The metaphor to evoke the poet’s psychological context – in which the paradoxical desires for solitude and community, intimacy and impassivity, warmth and indifference, play their part – is invariably a place, a settlement. It is a humble abode, a shanty, a solitarist’s habitat, and this solitude is sometimes a matter of choice and sometimes a matter of compulsion. The place neither welcomes nor denies entry, but searches quietly, hesitantly, wonderingly, for ways to deal with the twin terrors of desolation and intrusion.

If indifference is a choice, so is hope. And hope here is not a matter of fervent philosophical conviction or blazing personal insight. It seems instead to be a quiet unheroic choice that keeps one alive and engaged with life as a verb rather than a noun, a simple rationale that keeps one committed to seeking the light behind every shadow:

If there were no hope who would walk for the sake of hope
If there were no hope who would ford a river for the sake of hope . . .

The one who wanders in search of hope
sees hope in every shadow of the world

© Arundhathi Subramaniam


Cycle par tha Kauwa, Eklavya, Bhopal, 2010, ISBN: 978-81-89976-75-0
Banjara Namak Laya, Lokayat Prakashan, Jaipur, 2010, ISBN: 81- 903348-6-7
Jhoolta raha Gata raha ( A picture book), Room to Read, New Delhi, 2008, ISBN: 978-81-89754-36-5
Paniyon ki Gadiyon mein, Lokayat Prakashan, Jaipur, 2006, ISBN: 81-903348-0-8
Kalibai, Room to Read, New Delhi, 2005, ISBN: 81-89754-04-1

Pratilipi: Prabhat’s Hindi poetry from 2008 and 2010 and some non-fiction, in Hindi.

[This poet was recommended for the 15 March 2011 issue of PIW India by poet and editor Giriraj Kiradoo.]


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