By Poornima Laxmeshwar
Title: Raindrops Chasing Raindrops: Haibun and Hybrid Poems
Author: Paresh Tiwari
Publisher: Red River (2018), Second Edition
Price: INR 200
A haibun is an act of balance. A balance of ordinary and the extra that comes along with simple and rare moments without much distinction. A balance of gushing images and perfect pauses that can capture the silence we feel in a split of a moment. A balance between captivating prose and haiku that can reveal and also hide. Balance is life. To think of being, it is nothing but a loop. Memories, aches, smiles and sunshine chained into one another. In the collection of poems, Raindrops Chasing Raindrops: Haibun and Hybrid Poems, Paresh Tiwari deciphers that with sensibility and an equal audacity that it takes to bare open the emotions, understand them and stich them into well-thought patches of words.
Tiwari’s haibun are rich with images that he so skillfully draws and effortlessly weaves. The portrayal of everydayness and the unusual in a potent concoction strikes the reader. The first poem defines this in a measured manner.
“A man, his hands buried inside his jacket and head drawn low against the winter chill, passes through this road. His stooped silhouette rises like mist against the huddled images in the middle of the page.”
The man, the winter, the road – as bourgeois as it seems, a preset to the scene that follows.
“But just when you are ready to put down the book and drift into an easy sleep, a woman in yellow boots steps off the bus and you realise that nothing would ever remain the same; that you would never be able to rest until you know her intimately; that you would look for her on every road you take, every poem you read.”
The images simply remain with the reader and occupy a permanent piece of space in the minds. The mention of a yellow, the restlessness of not being able to know someone, the book, the road – maybe sketching these backgrounds comes more naturally to Paresh. Given that he is a painter, images are never a result of serendipity but always a careful continuum to be reasoned with. This makes his haibun evocative and subtle.
The prose is sensuous. It holds the minds of the readers and also allows free wandering in imagination when needed. Sometimes it brings alive the touch, sometimes the visuals and at times even the taste. But aren’t poems supposed to tantalize, bring out undiscovered emotions and even surprise us at times?
“My dreams, for instance, are insipid like broccoli. It’s an acquired taste frankly, but I have begun to like them now.”
And, what is poetry that doesn’t challenge the limitations of imagination? If it is the duty of a poet to stretch the last thread of an idea and pull probabilities like rabbits from a magic coat, then Paresh does this extremely well.
“I could have smelled the rain clouds under your eyes even then, but I chose not to. It was easier that way. Not knowing. It released me from the need to soften my touch. It saved you from plummeting into my darkness.”
The reader will also come across an ache that only makes everything be incomplete. The human incompleteness that seems existent wide across. This incompleteness probably gives Paresh a microscopic view of people and situations.
“Spring comes early and settles over the window like fine muslin. I stare at the carpet of jacaranda blossoms in the yard as the cold wet nose of the dog nuzzles my palm. All around us are rows and rows of empty cartons. The ones yet unpacked are stacked in a corner bulging at their edges; they threaten to burst and flood this one-room house with regrets.”
A haiku in a haibun is like a spouse – a with or without you kind of a situation. As much as it enhances the whole prose it must be able to stand on its own. Paresh’s ku are exceptional and there is no substitute to the word ‘exceptional’. It can only come from deep observation and a clear sense of thinking. To be able to blend two images with such intelligence is definitely an art that not every haijin can acquire.
“that one cricket
when all else is silent…
dew soaked grass
the single line on her
spring cleaning —
dusting the cobwebs
from my shadow
good as new
the less than full moon
and this heartache”
Paresh’s book of haibun feels whole with bright images, movement, emotions, thoughts, ache, loss – the book is everything that we can imagine or maybe not. The reader encounters what is common yet so uncommon with such fluidity that it feels utterly natural, utterly sensitive and utterly human.
Note: Red River, as an independent publishing house, separates itself from the corporate publishers by churning out book after book – ballads of love to art, craft and visual delight of poetry.
Poornima Laxmeshwar is a published poet, currently awaiting her second collection that will be out this year. She works as a content writer for a living.
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