TODAY -

A Poem's Story

S Balakrishnan *



I am excited that World Poetry Day is observed annually on 21st March! It has given me a humble opportunity to declare to the world a masterpiece poem of mine. If at all anything, that romantic evening in the far off Great Nicobar Island in the far off 1979 is to be blamed for this creative work.

After a full day's complete rest it seemed I had recovered from the effects of sea sickness of the three day voyage from Port Blair to Campbell Bay of Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost land mass of India.

So on the second day I started exploring the tiny port village of Campbell Bay, headquarters of that BIG Island; it was past 5 in the evening and the sun was slowly setting in the west (as usual).

I was walking near the jetty that was abuzz with activity when the ferry berthed but now was so calm.

While romanticizing with Nature (as there was no girl around), a thorny plant pricked my foot (right or left it doesn't matter now, after 42 years).

You would have expected blood to spring out from that pierced point but that was for ordinary mortals. For a born poet like me it was, instead, poetry that sprang out from every cell (no, not cell phone; who would have then imagined such a device in those days of landline phones, for a connection of which one had to do penance for years).

The poet within me was also perhaps pierced; he jumped out and composed a touching poem even at that critical junc ture, titled "Where Beauty Lies" for the world to enjoy and appreciate -

"True beauty is Nature's beauty! /
Thus admiring I was strolling /
And it was an enchanting evening /
In West the Sun was painting. /
Then something pricked my bare foot /
When I pulled that thorny plant up by the root /
'Wait a bit, my boy', cried the plant /
And asked the reason for my rare walk /
'Oh, that's none of your business', I snapped /
'I just walk about enjoying nature's beauty' /
That is great indeed but what a pity! /
Aren't I a tiny bit of that Nature's beauty? /
Beauty lies where you find it, it quipped. /
The fault is in my eyes, I realized /
And returned home a Buddha!
"

The impact of this great literary work was too much for me to bear. I just sat down right on the dirty jetty for the whole idea to sink in. As if to match my mood the setting sun was painting a fabulous scene which I trapped with my camera. Needless to say this is one of my favourite snaps.

It also has the credit of the very first of my photo art works to be published; not by any ordinary magazine but by 'The Indian & Foreign Review' brought out by the Ministry of External Affairs! Now it is defunct, though.

Enchanted by its beauty, my ex boss in Madras (now Chennai), Ms. Usha Abraham, used it for printing personal greeting cards. The encounter with the tiny thorny plant was so great that the painter in me also captured the scene in a small sketch.

Now that the cat (poem) is out of the bag, I am sure the Nobel Committee would award me the much deserved literary prize. If they need more proof I am willing to share my other extraordinary works and also churn out a dozen by the minute but the world may not be able to digest it! Then Lord Shiva will be forced to gulp them down with Goddess Parvathi clutching His throat for the second time.

Well, joke apart, why is UN observing World Poetry Day ?

The aim is to celebrate poetry, one of humanity's most treasured forms of cultural & linguistic expressions and identities, which also preserves oral tradition in our diverse cultures.

Besides, Poetry has the unique ability to capture the innermost creative spirit of human mind. As such, a decision to proclaim 21 March as World Poetry Day was adopted during UNESCO's 30th session held in Paris in 1999.


* S Balakrishnan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 26, 2021.


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