Cause and effect co-exist/life and death move together/You and I dance to the music of life.
Defining life is as arduous as life itself and one has to traverse a long way to understand its meaning in entirety. For a young poetess like Varalika Mishra, it was a deep understanding of human mind that gave birth to Shanti Panna-Voice of the Soul, a collection of poems, that was released last year.
Mishra, also a mental health activist, published the book at a time when the world was grappling with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Life, love, friendship, and above all, human being’s co-existence with nature needed to be redefined. One year on, Shanti Panna gives a perspective to human existence.
Mishra’s poems not only redraw the contours of life and deep dive into human souls but also looks at womanhood from a different dimension that is considered a social taboo. Her verses, Hormones play with my body/But the society judges it better/Labelling me at every encounter, or, My pain was real/There were days when I did not want to be alive./The agony was intense and social stigma was even worse/I ask for a period leave/But they see me as someone weak — are straightforward and reflects the truth that women in the country live with.
Friendship, the most precious gift of life, has also been projected with pathos and longing. In the spiral of lessons being learnt/You became the constant lesson to be forgotten/A friend to be forgotten. There is no ornamentation in expressing angst and grief and there is no meandering of emotions. There is only poignancy in her words and thoughts.
Shanti Panna is thought-provoking and a journey in short verses. Mishra’s wide diaspora of work as a mental health counsellor and freelance journalist helps her understand the deepest emotions.
Book: Shanti Panna: Rooh Ki Awaaz-Voice of the Soul; Author: Varalika Mishra; Publisher: Notion Press; Pages: 118; Price: Rs 150