The Creative Section (Vol. 5, No. 1) is on its way and will be published by the end of May, 2024.

Social Perspectives in K.V. Raghupathi’s Orphan and Other Poems

 


Social Perspectives in K.V. Raghupathi’s

Orphan and Other Poems

 

Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad

Associate Professor

Department of English

Anurag University

Venkatapur, Hyderabad, India

 

   

Abstract:

 

Indian English Poetry has come of age and witnessed many poets. Multiple themes by innumerable poets have immortalized the Muse of Poetry. Poets are highly innovative in themes, settings, and locale. Society and perspectives speak about the age and the landscape. Among Indian English Poets, K.V. Raghuapthi holds an unrivalled position in English Poetry. He is highly introspective. In the collection, he deals with social perspectives. These are just his primary observations and experiences.

 

Keywords: Society, Region, Village, Post-Structuralism, Ancient roots, Spiritualism, Yoga

 

Literature is the representation of social life. The quality of literature is intimately connected with the quality of the life that it reflects. Literature is always a reflection of life which presupposes a social ground. K.V. Raghupathi, who has got fourteen published poetry collections to date, is a renowned critic and reviewer from Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. His poetry collection Orphan and Other Poems is the objectivity of social vision that has really ensured Raghupathi’s position as a poet in the world of literature. He is quick to discern and objectively present the real trends in the direction towards which the society is moving. He arouses in the reader’s minds a sort of emotional content so as to continue the existence of his experiences and communicate them to the reader’s minds. It is here that the skill of Raghupathi as an artist-poet lies in creativity and innovation. Keeping in view the multifarious activities of the collection, it is a work of art because it is an attempt to communicate emotion. Its value is in direct proportion to the intensity of emotion. Its truth is its own and lies in what makes us feel.

 

             Orphan and Other Poems deals with Raghupathi’s creative passion for the Indian themes and sensibilities. As a poet, he expresses his commitment by projecting his insight into the nature, emotion and character of man in the contemporary society. In the words of W. R. Goodman ,“A literary man is as much a product of his society as his art is product of his own reaction to life” (Quintessence of Literary Essays, 10). Raghupathi is intensely aware of the anguish of human situation and uses similes and metaphors together glimpsing through the rainbow magnificence of life. All the poems of Orphan and Other Poems are rather fact based than the fiction of imagination. The touch of realism is so strong in the poems that the readers are awakened to the glaring realities and events in life around them. He delves deep into the human psyche and moulds the social perspectives into a poetic shape. He says in an interview with the author of this paper: ‘‘the poems have dealt with some of my common social encounters in the society. I wrote poems on orphan, woman beggar who abandoned her child in the bin, woman in her broken image and so on. Yet in several of them, I have presented my anguish and of course here and there I have turned out to be melancholic and philosophical” (Contemporary Vibes, 10-12).

 

          The poet presents the plight of an orphan in the poem which is intensely heart-breaking. A child’s world is like a broken winged bird when he loses his mother. The mother was caught in Maya and met another man in a far away land. The orphan asks his sister not to flee like mother. The poet effectively employs similes to convey the comparison. The child is compared to “a broken winged bird,” “a dry fish in the filtered sunlight,” and his mother to “a fairy woman,” “a bird in search of Eldora Do.” Raghupathi sensitizes the soul of an orphan who loses the affectionate lap of mother.

 

When the mother leaves

The child’s world falls apart

Like a broken winged bird form the sky.      

                                              (Orphan. 7)

 

‘Bud in the Bin’ is a poem again on social perspectives wherein the poet has dealt with common social encounter. It is a woman beggar who left her child in the dust bin. Raghupathi is socially sensitive and reactive to the developments around him. He protests against those erring mothers who indulge in inhuman activities.

 

I found a half-worm eaten babe

lay half-buried in the half baked bin

of left over like a half-eaten banana leaf.      

                                                  (Bud in the Bun, 8)

 

The deep anguish of poet finds a poetic expression when a woman appeared in a broken image. The pathetic sight of woman is a realistic social perspective in every Indian life. It is a woman in her broken image of markings on the brown cheeks, neck and hands. It is a woman in her broken image where she lay on the floor with her legs apart and hands thrown between two dirty pillows and two displaced boxes – all pointing to indiscriminate rape and assault. Raghupathi presents the intensity of emotion when her carcass was stretched from corner to corner.

 

She lay dead

like a fish on the shore.

 

The markings on the brown cheeks neck and hands

in the golden thin light

through the partially closed windows

indicate either raped or poisoned.

 

But she lay there on the wet floor

with her legs apart and hands thrown

in between two murky pillows and two displaced boxes

her breasts partially opened

nipples pointing to the partially broken roof

full and round with clotted milk.       

                                           (Broken Image ,9)

 

The poet leaves the reader or interpreter as the focal figure in post-structural accounts of signifying practices. The distinctive post-structural view is that no text can mean what it seems to say. Raghupathi’s poem ‘Post-Structuralism’ is an example of text that does not mean what it seems to project. Here readers and interpreters are left to evaluate the intricacies of poem.

 

Time crawls in and out of my room

like a green snake on a green landscape

to trace its birth and death.

 

Words like green hanging leaves

are ready to drop their determinacy

on the ground for free play in the wind.

 

Meaning is like thick fog and mist

around the trees and fields

over which confused birds

gambol to land and settle.      

                               (Post-Structuralism, 10)

 

The intensity of drought finds its poetic expression in the poem ‘Drought’ in which the poet effectively uses similes to sensitize readers with parched throats and dried eyes. It is a drought that made them go without food and water. Nature-centered imagery makes its presence in the poem to reflect drought.

There are no flowers falling

only leaves hanging like bats.

 

There are no leaves failing

only empty branches stretching in empty space

like bony hands

 

There are no branches spreading

only the trunk standing like an abandoned

child in the desert.

                                                      (Drought, 11)

 

The poet’s social perspective continues to find expression in a poem “An Evening at the Brihadeswara Temple’. It is a historical Shiva temple built and patronized by the Chola kings located at Tanjore in southern Tamil Nadu. It is the poet’s experiences which are subtly presented. Brihadewara Temple has a prolific history and culture that flows in the profusely carved gods and goddesses in rhythmical stories. Raghupathi undertakes a historical journey into the temple where he spent an evening. The chanting of prayer ‘Om Nama Shivaya’ went an air and it is described as the rise and fall at the intersection of the sky and the pinnacle. The poet describes the activities of evening at Brihadeswara temple in poetic appraisal.

 

As silence fell like champak petals in the wind

over the resting city the Gopuram merged into the dark shadows

stands as a sentinel.

guarding the Dharma in Eternity

the ineffable peace that passes all understanding.

(An Evening at the Brihadeswara Temple, 12)

 

The poet brings out his pain and anguish in a summer evening. The disappearance of day is the appearance of night. The day is gone as a swift bird and the night falls from the looks of an unknown dark woman. Amidst the drenched leaves, a sad feeling picked up the poet which he could not resist and comprehend. He intensely felt the pain of loneliness, sadness and longing like rainbow in the droplets. The poet prays to relieve him from the pain.

 

                        ‘I pray, come and read me some poem

to redeem from pain and sadness

that shall heal my restlessness

and banish the past wounds and fears of death.

 

I pray, come and play me some music

that enlivens my loneliness and numbed feeling

as showers of petals from the garden. 

                               (Pain on a Summer Evening, 14)

 

Yogi’ is a poem of stinging satire on fake yogis, fakirs and babas. A typical sarcasm runs through the entire poem. Raghupathi is socially-conscious and this consciousness is an outright attack against immoral practices of so-called yogis.

 

 

                        Eyes closed

                        cruising into the night

                        beyond the stars and the moon

                        trying to be perfect in copulation

                        with the unreachable

                        the infinite Advaitic Silence…

 

                        He seemed to be in bed

                        entwining her with every breath

                        fondling with her round breasts

                        her neck, her belly, navel and the rest all in dream

                        Om, Om, he uttered

                        every time to free himself

                        from the torments of sexuality.          

                                                                (Yogi, 17)

 

The poet is intensely fond of historical structures. This finds poetic expression in one of the poems ‘A Walk on the Ruins’. These lines were composed when he visited the Chandragiri Fort ruins located 12 kms from Tirupathi, a holy city in Andhra Pradesh. He describes the place as having possessed of “fascinating interludes, romantic adventures and misdemeanours.” It is laid with granite steps and trodden stones which stand as testimony of battles fought. The architecture of the Mahal stands unobtrusive. The poet walked through the manicured lawns strewn with ancient stones. Raghupathi recollects the magnificent fort built and written about in the history. It is still fresh on the tip of his tongue.

 

 

                        It is a place where history stays old as well as young

                        with fascinating interludes, romantic adventures

                        and misdemeanors

 

                        The trodden stories with marks of blood

                        now smudged stand as testimony of battles fought.

 

The architecture of the Mahal with marvels and    serenity inside

stand intact unobtrusive

 

                        It is my history, my past

                        I squat and ponder

                        on the ruins preserved for the amnesiac man.

                                                                  (A Walk on the Ruins ,25)

 

The poet paid rich tributes to M.S. Subhulakshimi, on her passing away. M.S., as she was affectionately called, was a doyen of Karnatic music whose musical renderings continue to go an air through morning psalms and devotional lyrics. Raghupathi recalled the memories and services of M.S. Subbulakshmi in a poem titled “TO M.S.”

 

                        You sang from the unknown depths of your heart

like an angel unknown to human hearts.

 

Nothing else healed our broken hearts

other than your ambrosia filled voice.

 

Was it the mellifluous Saraswati Veena

on which your vocal chords fingered umpteen ragas?

 

Where shall your smooth,sublime, soft and serene art go?

 

Who are we, the queen of melody?

We are nothing but the melting ones

in the amalgam flow of your perfect bhava and bhakti

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.    

                                        (TO M.S. 35-36)

 

 

A socially-conscious Raghupathi recalled the nature’s unpredicted fury that attacked a town called Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh when it was flooded by the swollen river waters of Tungh Badhra in 2009. Only birds are the mute witnesses of Nature’s fury and human failure. It is a living agony in symphony. It was water everywhere that carried boxes, suitcases, utensils, clothes, banks, broken branches and uprooted plants – all moving like funeral procession.

 

 

It is a living agony in symphony

same sound of crying and screaming confluence 

with the cacophony of swirling waters.

 

Houses and trees half merged

stand as pilgrims in prayers.

 

A grocer in his make-shift shop

surrounded by waist-deep water

unmindful of nature’s fury

makes brisk business serving the evicted and displaced

selling everything

toiletry, biscuits, vegetables, fruits and soft drinks too

Ethics or no ethics, its business as usual in the carnage.

                     (It’s Business as Usual, 37-38)

 

 

A typical social delineation finds its poetic expression in the poem ‘Death of Book-Seller’. The poet composed those pensive lines after the demise of his friend who was incidentally a book seller in Tirupathi. He recalls his unbroken bond of friendship with the book-seller.

 

 

                        He is gone like a patch of summer clouds

                        leaving me alone like a deserted bird

                        without telling me in the open sky.      

                                                             (Death of a Book Seller, 40)

 

The death of book-seller makes Raghupathi philosophically poetic in the lines.

 

 

                        ‘Death tells none in light or darkness

                        while taking the body away,

                        life tells none in darkness or light

                        while entering into the mortal world to stay.                

                                                             (Death of a Book-Seller, 40)

 

 

         He was speechless and remained unspoken and lay scattered in the world of deceptive bond and love which was like the dyed color on white cloth. The poet feels like a lost seeker in the mid-Vindhyas. His friend is an unseen gull over the Bay forever. His death is ocean-like silence around him. He shared laughter, and exchanged knowledge which was valueless.

 

 

        The Village’ is a poem that sensitizes poet’s deep affinity for village though he was not born and bred there. It is a village that speaks to the poet in distress. He sees another part of village that moves through toil in agony. The village speaks the language of pubs and bars. Equally, the poet cherishes the romantic feelings in the life of a village. Further, the village gets to the roots of his soul which becomes the symbol of love. It is the village which Raghupathi cherishes the romantic ties with primeval joy and innocence and leaves to speak the language of wisdom. It is the village which has not learned the ways of a city. The village continues to live in huts unlike the multi-storied buildings of a city. The poet is socially perspective in the lines composed.

 

 

                        The village that lies under the green hills

beyond the road and the track

like a dismembered body

sleeps separated from the usual din

 

I know this village not in dreams but in its huts.

I know no other village except this

that converses with me in distress

Each little hut, each jaunty little hut

like the brave trees

that bear in silence

the harrowing sun and lashing rains.

This village is another part of me

The lanky men and emaciated women

and swollen-bellied children

bony-ribbed dogs and soiled hens I watch them 

strut & move through toil in agony.

 

                        The village is my feminine principle

                        The deep roots of my soul, the symbol of love.  

                                                                          (The Village ,50-51)

 

 

         The ill effects of globalization drive the poet to deal with the memories, sufferings and struggles of an Indian weaver “Chenchaiah, the Weaver” wherein Raghupathi shows the diversity of globalization which has largely impacted the life of weavers in India.

 

 

            The concept of globalization; “some prosper, some perish” has indeed shattered the lives of people across the globe. Chenchaiah, the weaver made an ordinary living by the mound and a tiled hut in a village. He soon fell into debts. He lost his wife. He lost his business as well. There was almost frustration. He is sealed in eternity. The poet shook with pain to see him carried on a bamboo stretcher.

 

‘Some prosper, Some perish’ is the story of globalization

Chenchaiah, four scores plus five, short and stout

whose hands have toiled under the light in agony

I think have woven a thousand saris to suit thousand minds.

 

In middle age, he became cynosure of every rank and file

Soon the doors of globalization were open

to make his looms stranded and weak

His life fell and broke like a pot on a table in debts.

The wife’s heart cracked like the walls in an earthquake and

Chenchaiah was left alone

alone with his rusted looms and unsold saris.

 

Frustration hooted in his heart

His tiled house crinkled in sorrow.

 

His drooping flesh stinks with sweat and dust

Firing sun and hunger burrowed his eyes and cheeks

No hope in his balding head; the long waiting for succor

smashed like a glass on the floor.

Now he lies with all his memories and Struggles sealed in eternity

I shake with pain to see him pass on a bamboo stretcher.                                             

                             (Chenchaiah, the Weaver, 52-53)

 

The poet presents his bitter experiences in a hotel when he attended the literary festival in Jaipur. In fact, the room could accommodate only one person but was forcibly shared by the two. The poet describes the congested life in the room of hotel in the pink city. The poem reflects the adjusted life of 21 century scenario against heavy odds.

 

 

‘If he is inside, I am out side

If I am inside, he is outside

The time has come at last for parting

He leaves much earlier with a sack of memories

I part with a pack full to pen in poetry

The room is left empty with no trace of foot prints

except the persisting nauseating smell emanating from

the empty bottles, crumpled papers, and decomposed food.

It is a room for one in this vast world

and not for two, I leave with no cheer and regret

because the world is like that. 

                           (A Room in a Hotel, 57-58)

 

 

          In conclusion, I reckon that K.V. Raghupathi’s Orphan and other Poems is a critique of his own social encounters. Further, it is a collection of superb sensitivity, strong emotions and finally with a touch of contemporaneity. As a poet of realism, Raghupathi touches upon the elements of shared concerns, sufferings and pains. He condemns, protests, shares, and satirizes the follies of human beings. The poems of the collection have dealt with the common social encounters in the society. No writer can escape from the influence of his age. Raghupathi reflects his zeitgeist or the time-spirit. The poet has presented his anguish and become melancholic and philosophical here and there. The collection is, indeed, a flowing cascade of social perspectives.

 

Works Cited

 

Raghupathi. K.V. Orphan and Other Poems, New Delhi : Sanbun Publishers. 2010.

 

Prasad, Laxmi P.V. ‘Interview with K.V. Raghupathi,’ Contemporary Vibes, 2011, (10-12).

 

Goodman ,W.R. Quintessence of Literary Essays.  New Delhi: Doaba House Booksellers and Publishers, 1995.