Book review: On Labyrinth by Dania khan

Book Review by Sheodan Singh Bhadoria

Labyrinth (Poetry)
Dania Khan
Rupa Publication, Delhi
Prices- ₹ 295 INR (HB)

In the ‘Introduction’ itself (Page-xiii), one can find the aroma and flavour of the dishes, which Daniya has prepared. In her first tryst with outer world, she sees the poverty and hunger, the greed and destruction, the treachery and denial, the broken and exhausted world with all the dark realities, which are totally in contrast to the told truths and ideals. Then she puts her heart out, which takes the form of a paper, she doesn’t write, the broken heart beats with the truth and her hands just jot down the dark and cruel realities of the world, which she sees as such. This is not the paper, this is her heart, which is wrenched and distraught. The world is split in mind, heart and hands, but she is one in all, she has even made the paper as extended part of her heart, that is why her pen spills the ache, the pain and misery, the plight and struggle, the tears and their truth.

This collection is her first spillover of the emotions which have come out in open after getting a first shock of truth and reality around. Her beautiful and compassionate heart wants to see the light but it sees dark everywhere, she wants to receive the love and hate is all that is abounding everywhere, her dreams are shattered, she has an image of a beautiful ‘teddy bear’ but that is melting down and she is unable to catch hold of it, the world is a barren-land and this is the ‘TRUTH’ of this society, truly a wasteland. (Page-83, TRUTH). She says I close my eyes hoping to find peaceful sleep, but her dreams get blotched with ink of nightmares, she moves in the barren land, which is full of bodies of hundreds and blood of thousands. The reality of this world is a world of broken dreams.

She is standing like Arjun in the middle of an unfolding war, in front of his own relatives, who are inclined to kill him, to usurp everything from him, there is no value, no compassion, just greed and usurpation. She is concerned and feels for those, who are cheated and conned by each and everyone, rather by their own near and dear ones.

The world is devoid of love, sympathy and compassion, infact the hate, apathy and cut-throat- competition have spread their all-encompassing shadows and the unending darkness fills the space everywhere. And this reality is the tone and tenor of the ‘Labyrinth’.

Dania weaves a world, which is less rosy and more thorny, it is real world, it is not accumulation of imaginary thoughts and feelings, it is sur-real and authentic and I must say that in this age and experience, she is more bold and forthright than us all, who are engaged in befooling none other than ourselves. Just go deep down and you shall find that she is not in the flattery of ‘readers’ who take more interest in fantasy and fanciful flight of imaginations. I would like to draw your kind attention to the story of her world, which is like music of piano (Page-89, The Story of the World). There are melodies of Mozart and sonatas of Beethoven but the deeper insight is that of blood and destruction. There is grief and love, there is loss and gain, but her story is a story of the world which is more of guilt and pain. 

I would like you to go through her ‘Masquerade Ball’(Page-86), which depicts reality of this world, which is actually like such ‘Ball’. She sees the world, in which everyone is in masks and fanciful robes, ballgowns and suits, inside the masks of comfort, people are hiding the heartache of hundred years, in the white veils, brides are disguising the misery of their hearts.  And see the great oxymoron, the doctors are wearing masks of plague, preserving their health, we have seen the same in Covid pandemic as to how some of the saviors of our lives have amassed the wealth by converting the crisis into an opportunity. See the white clothes of widows, the tears of torture are visible in their brown eyes, see the black dresses of mothers, who have seen the brutal murder of their own children in the broad day light.  And in the middle of them all, she is standing, distraught and awe-struck, her eyes wide open. This is the labyrinth, which she has revealed to us all, she has not woven an imaginary web, it is already there, and she has put it in front of our eyes, since we all are in deep sleep and she is waking, fully conscious of happening around, unable to sleep. She has shaken us all. (Sukhiya sab sansar hai khavai aru sovai, dukhiya das Kabir hai jagai aru rovai.)

Editor, Parinde (Hindi), Noida, Delhi (India),
Mobile: +91 99584 73299

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