Make Me Some Love To Eat
by Raghavendra Madhu
Review by Chandramohan Naidu
Love and poetry are conjoined twins. To separate them is a fool’s errand. Yet, lately, love has got a bad rap in Indian English poetry; it has come to be recognised as juvenilia – serious poets write about the struggles of life.
This is why I am so impressed with Madhu’s debut collection of poems, Make Me Some Love To Eat. It's is a book of unabashedly straightforward love poems, where poems after poems, the poet sing paeans of love: ‘Let love consume love/ let love make love to love/ let love procreate love.’
The book is the virtuoso feat, a book of love poems for our time. I attended the launch of the book during Poetry with Prakriti festival in Chennai in December 2016 and was impressed with both the poet and his book. Raghavendra Madhu is a well-known name in the poetry circles in India for his organisation Poetry Couture, through which he has been working towards taking poetry to the public by organising poetry events in public venues. So perhaps it is understandable that his first collection of poems should be about love.
Another thing that impressed me about the book was the book itself. It has the most interesting title. Then the production, published by an upcoming Delhi-based publisher i write imprint, is top-notch. From the paper used to the design of the book, filled with some interesting drawing by the artist Devi Ganguly, all speak of love. One thing is certain. This is not your assembly line book. This is a book nurtured with love.
I have this habit of turning the pages slowly and devouring the first line or word. Upon receiving the book soon after the Chennai launch, I did the same. That’s how I chanced upon the Faiz Ahmed Faiz quote which ends the book. His mention reminds me of Sahir Ludhianvi, who said, ‘Ishq hi ek haqeeqat naheen kuch aur bhi hai’. This reality dawns on many of us after a few experiences with romance, love and its dreamy world. We all fall in love, fall out of it. These experiences make many become poets and try to reach out to the world, creating their own languages, words. They use them so deftly you feel they have discovered another meaning to an orphaned word, or line. Madhu does exactly that. Take this poem, ‘Reason’, for example.
I like you,
I do not have
a specific reason to.
So I like you.
My liking you
is not the sum of rationalities
put together howsoever.
A boy or a girl whose innocent hearts have got locked may dish out many reasons as to why one likes the other. But this is the immediate reaction, just to answer, nothing more, nothing less. In vacant moments search, prod, probe your inner self a little -the poem makes sense, matures you a little and your walk in the park, the beach could be more dignified.
As I delved deep into the book, some lines leapt forth from the pages. ‘It’s miraculous how you are prose by day, and poetry by night,’ Madhu writes. There was a nukkad poet in Hyderabad. He said, ‘Din mein woh haas kar chal deti hai, raat ko mere saath zindagi gujaar leti hai. He is no more. Else, I would have sent him a photocopy of these lines.
Rochelle Potkar puts it aptly when she says that there is a certain earthiness to Madhu’s poems, like a river of loosening silt, but viewed through a modern cafe window.
Imagine two lovers on their first date on a terrace, both looking at the stars, the sky is silence. A few words are exchanged to break the ice, and then you hear the hum, ‘Is anjuman mein aapko aana hai bar baar, dewaro dar ko guar se pehchan lijiye.’ These lines from Umrao Jaan are lifted higher and taken to a different plane in the poem ‘Nights’. He brings you out of restricted space in which the heart dwells for a moment, takes you elsewhere, to a lost world unfathomed.
Jayakanthan, Tamil writer and Jnanpith award winner, on the relationship, he said, ‘one for one is fine, who for whom.’ The sum total of Madhu’s poems also raises this question, not directly but in a subtle manner.
There are many who say that love has become momentary, people fall in and fall out as if they are changing clothes. This I feel is an accusation. In reality, all of us are in search of love. You could be in a bar and find a single female on other table sipping her beer yet throwing glances, loneliness does bind people. As this exchange goes on, she could say hello, then pay her bill and while passing by say thanks. You wonder what the thanks were for. You did not speak, but the silence seems to have said a lot. Between strangers, this is like a tonic for the day. You step out with confidence. This momentary feeling springs into action. The day passes off beautifully.
You have to read Madhu’s poem, then close your eyes, go back to your moment, relive that, decipher, dissect, maybe you could find the answer for your falling or a falling out.
I do not believe in holy places
yet, every night I set on a pilgrimage
on a train of kisses
from your forehead to your toes.
Madhu declares his religion and spirituality. This makes me envious of him.
It is the time that I ask someone to make me some love to eat.