Latha Prem Sakhya
Calicut: Monsoon Editions,2008
Pp 79 Rs.150/
Latha Prem Sakhya was born in 1959 in Kanyakumari District , Tamil Nadu and began writing rather late . Her debut collection, ”Memory Rain” comprising of 64 poems written mainly in free verse, was , as she puts it ‘penned for my personal delight and has captured some of the treasured moments of evanescent life’. The poems are all blanketed within a plethora of memories. As the poet journeys down memory lanes , the reader is forced to accompany her. She has succeeded in holding the readers attention throughout as she reminisces. Life, love, desire, womanhood, nature are all dealt with from various angles. The end result is worth looking into.
A deep sense of nostalgia pervades her poems right from the first one ‘Down Memory Lane’ where she gives us an insight into
The old rambling house, with its spacious rooms;
The sweeping land; the gigantic tamarind trees-
Four great pillars-sentries like
It was here she was nurtured for seventeen summers.
In ‘Paattie’ she nostalgically remembers her grand mother.
But children were your weakness-
I found solace in your company-
You listened to my childish woes
And filled me with confidence,
I thrived on your infinite fund of stories-
And rode on fancies’ wings.
Although Paattie has been reduced to a human vegetable,
Memories of those days –
Serve as an oasis for a tired mind
To roost, and to be rejuvenated.
Her sensitivity to human relationships is revealed in a lot of poems. One can
relate to all her views with perfect ease.
She deals with Mother and child in ‘Tiny World’, “My Child’, ‘Corina’ and ‘Dreamchild’. There is a sense of love and loss in these poems. In the latter poems death separate mother and child, in ‘Tiny world’ the child grows up .
As you stand on your feet
Asserting your tiny world of independence.
In ‘Cameraderie’ the little exchanges between her daughter and her husband is watched by her wistfully.
I – a silent spectator
Enjoyed the comeraderie
Between father and daughter
Denied to me as a child.
Friendships are dealt with in ‘Prop’ ‘Shards’ and ‘Patching up’. Each poem brings out a different aspect of friendship.
Friendship, a prop of life
Who can live without it? (Prop)
Leaves behind a fragmented self.
The wounded self rises
From the ashes of burnt friendship. (Shards)
In ‘Patching up’ friendship inflicts ‘scars too thick to hide’,
A constant reminder of the bitter agony
I suffered in the name of friendship.
Grandchild- grand mother relationship is portrayed in ‘Paattie’.
Dark poems are abundant and tend to be repetitive. But lessons are learnt and she has overcome by sheer self will. ‘ Lamp’ ‘Uninvited Thought’ ‘Thoughts’ ‘Hurt’ ‘The Uncanny Singer’ “Dreams’ ‘Zombie’ ‘Temptations’ all capture her immense struggle not to exist, ‘longing to fly away’,
The thirst to drink,
From the sweet cup of oblivion –
was very tempting. (Temptation)
Growing up has taught her a lesson or two. Here also, her dumped memories (the darker ones)
Crawl one by one-
To stone my spirit –
With taunts and fears infinite
I had tried desperately to forget.
‘Floatsam’ is short and depressive.
But all is not dark for Latha. She spins words to cheer the reader with poems like ‘Reminiscence’ and ‘Hope’
So goes the bubble of hope,
Sustaining the game of life
Till, the last round is played.(Hope)
Reminiscence is slightly wistful, the images in this poem are sharp and changing, from girlhood to adolescence and finally to the ‘autumn of life’ , but it is these
Wistful images, overpower me,
Revitalizing me, with fresh energy
To carry on, with the same girlish zest
Each new day gifted to me.
Faith in God and God’s infinite love for man are delicately portrayed in ‘Light’ and‘Infinite Love’.
A straw I caught ,
That gently wafted me.,
To belief and safety.
‘Wailing Banshee’ a joy to read, speaks of Divine Love.
Love was Christ the Lamb
Sacrificed that the world may engender
Infinite red roses in all their glory ,
To fill the world with love.
Latha Prem is a poet of Nature. Through an array of poems beginning with ‘Evening Sky’ ‘Notes of Joy’ ‘Minnows’ ‘The Crown of Creation’ ‘Magic Spell’ ‘The Rill’ ‘Magic in the Air’ she not only sketches nature and its creations but also philosophies:
Unlike man –worrying and fretting (Minnows)
I looked at the Crown of creations
They alone appeared flurried and harried
By desires infinite (The Crown of Creation)
She sees the tree as :
A prototype of universal love and brotherhood-
a paradigm for warring humanity (Tree)
She mourns the ‘callousness of the humans’ in poems like ‘Anguish’ ‘Earth Mother’ and one is forced to wonder whether ‘Wild Furies’ is indeed a death -dance,
To warn the insensitive mankind. (Earth Mother)
Aspects of a woman’s life form the key note of many poems. In a ‘Wild Terrain’ she calls a woman ‘A world unto herself- a wild terrain, unpredictable,a mystery ,unraveled by none- yet tantalizing to men.
’She questions herself in poems like ‘Eve’, lays herself bare in the shortest poem of the collection ‘Woman’s Love’,
Selflessly to all she loves.
brings out the drudgery of life in ‘A Mothers Day’ which is like all other days …
The day dawns with a long list-
….. and ends with
Finally the much awaited private minutes ( I would replace this with moments)
Beside the loved one ,sharing problems and jokes.
But these too are marred by flaring disagreements,
Quickly smothered by fatigue and sleep-a blessing.
and in ‘Drying Spring’
The instinctive womanish nature for survival.
‘You and I’ is sensitive and disturbing.
Nuances of love are reflected in poems like Airy dreams where true love unlike lust makes the sweet heart bloom like a flower, waltz like a flower like ‘Love or fantasy?’ where she is
What shall I name you?
An innate fear of being ‘shattered’ , building defensive fortresses as denial even as yet one loves, (Fortress), or after being hurt
And secretes detachment- armour to protect
From the random arrows flung
On the battle ground of survival.(Hurt) ,
Loving foolishly enough to loose oneself as in ‘Lamp’ ,sketching the event as
Another unfortunate echo
‘In where is the Gentle shower of love ?,’ her
parched psyche thirsts for love
Of youthful love : of eternal spring;
When everything was cause for spontaneous joy.
But now life yawns like a chasm.
And leaves her with
Desire to regain the bliss of love.
‘Stolen pleasures’ and “Evanescent Passion’ ‘A winged being’ all revolve round the heart with its complex, uncontrollable passions that lead to pain sorrow and unhappiness, yet never tiring.
Latha’s poems are short for the greater part of the book. However that does not mean that she finds herself unable to pen longer ones as the last poems ‘Reminiscence’ ‘Magic in the Air’ ‘Wild Furies’ And ‘Aria’ indicate.
‘Aria’ is well written and moving. Like a song waiting to be sung, a tale being told all over again. The images of friendship,
Our friendship transcended the earthly barriers,
As if we had been friends for eons.
the intervention of fate,
When the relentless Reaper brought to naught –
Your hard won spiritual and earthly honours,
Destroying forever your intense desire to live.
the reconciliation to the reality of the loss, scores of memories and finally the hope of meeting in eternity
All these images instill in me a fond hope-
The hope of meeting you soon- as though
I need only to put aside my daiky chores
And make a surprise as in yester years.
have been well portrayed to leave a deep imprint on one’s mind.
Memory Rain has been aptly titled. The cover design is a collage by Latha who is also an artist in her own right. The slim volume begins with a drizzle of memories and ends in a downpour. The poems have freshness about it that make one just step out into the rain of memories and get drenched in its downpour.