theasian.asia
4 November , 2013
Hemant Divate: Poetic Butterflies From The Garden Of India
Ashraf Dali
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The participants in Poetrywala International Festival hold Hemant's book of poetry as he was a winner in a recent function. Far ringt is Mr. Hemant.
An email sent from a friend opened a whole new world for me. It happened when Ahmed Al Shahawi, the well known Egyptian poet, sent me his friend Hemant Divate’s poems, to introduce them for Arab readers.
Mr. Hemant Divate is an internationally known Marathi poet from India, who lives in Mumbai and works as an editor, a publisher, and a translator. His two poetry collections in Marathi, Chautishiparyantchya Kavita (Poems Till Thirty-Four) and Thambtach Yet Nahi (Just Can’t Stop), proved to be path-breaking in the Marathi literary landscape. His poems have been translated into English, French, Spanish, German, Urdu, Arabic, Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam. Poetry wala has just published his third book of Marathi poems titled Ya Roommadhye Aale Ki Life Suru Hote (The Moment You Enter This Room, Life Begins).
The celebrated poet and translator Dilip Chitre translated Chautishiparyantchya Kavita into English and titled the book Virus Alert. It is also published in Spanish as Alarma De Virus, and in Irish as Foláireamh Víris. His second book of poems in English translation, A Depressingly Monotonous Landscape, is just published. A Depressingly Monotonous Landscape is a translation of Hemant’s second book of poems ‘Thambtach Yet Nahi’ which was awarded the prestigious Yashawantrao Chavan Prize for the best poetry collection published in Marathi from Jan 2006 to Dec 2009.
Hemant has won several prestigious awards, including the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award (Kolkata, India), Aksharrang Lokmat Award 2013 and Maharashtra Foundation Award. He has presented his poetry in many national and international poetry and literature festivals (Europe, Latin America and Asia). He is also the founder-editor of the prestigious Marathi little magazine Abhidhanantar, which saw uninterrupted publication for 15 years. Abhidhanantar has been credited for giving a solid platform to new poets and for enriching the post-nineties Marathi literary scene with amazing talent and great poetry.
Hemant’s publishing house, Paperwall Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd (Poetrywala), has published more than 45 collections of poetry of extraordinary quality in Marathi and English.
There is more than one reason to describe his poems as butterflies, one because of their delicate movements over the garden of language, another is referred to his colorful wings carrying the metaphor. I wonder that a man living in such a huge city like Mumbai, could transfer its world in a few lines poem. He has the anthropology eye to spot the danger around species, in his poem “Butterflies”, he writes:
Ambling by in the garden of the apartment complex
I casually remarked to a friend,
Don’t see those small
deep-yellow butterflies these days
He casually said,
That brand has been discontinued
Mr. Hemant Divate criticizes the prototypes of our contemporary lives, we are becoming just cloned copies, as everything is resembling anything. this is very clear in his long poem “A Depressingly Monotonous Landscape”, dedicated to his daughter, let us go through those day nightmares that shad his, and our lives:
Like me, she gets nightmares
of headless people carrying
the corpses of orphaned villages
into the cemeteries of cities
or ferrying frightful landscapes of cities
only to superimpose them on the erased villages
The same, the very same landscape
encloses within itself
all the headless people
All, all cities have the same name
the same streets, same buildings, same shopping malls
all are transfixed in the same predefined places
like a regiment standing ready to march
She moves along paths with
the same name, same colours
same smells, same forms
same faces as though clones of themselves
and at the same deceptive crossroads
she reaches the same statue
No matter where she flees
the same statue confronts her again and again
and she arrives at the same landscapes
of the same cities
with no signs or landmarks to guide her
In the same places
she sees the same people
speaking the same language
and with same shapes
same gestures
standing in queues of the same length
in the very same manner
going to the same stations
driving the same vehicles
at the same speed
in the same direction
at the same time
passing by the same trees
of the same height
of the same kind
separated in the same way
by the same dividers
on the same road
The same people
are tattered
the same way
by the same bombs
and lie scattered the same way
petrified the same way
broken the same way
The nostalgic effect is very clear in all Hemant Divate’s poems. I wonder if this is related to the circle of life, as people crossing the mid-age bridge are always seeking those moments. We all go back to our album of old photos, our stories of childhood, just to compare. as he does in “Stories within Stories”:
There were no books then
Only stories existed
and now there are so many books
but the stories in them are gone
…………
I broke the clay water bottle
my friend had given me
the sole gift that quenched thirst
through thirst
so no thirst remained
Now, even after swigging bottle after bottle of mineral water
the thirst remains unquenched
…………………..
You used to tell so many stories
that always brought us together
Your face shone on those stories
like a lamp that
had become a story and that tickled
Even now the darkness of your tale
is glimmering in this mall of books
like the fragrant smoke from stories
The darkness within the books
scatters into poetry smithereens in the mind
and leaving these books aside
I go back alone to the world of our stories.
Reading Hemant’s lines of verse makes you feel how far are we from the innocence of childhood, and how much are we in need to real stories, real friends, real cities, and a real life.
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