Book Review: Raindrops on the Periwinkle

Raindrops on the Periwinkle

Author: Nishi Pulugurtha
ISBN: 978-93-90873-62-3 (Paperback)
Edition: (2022)
Price: ₹ 200 INR
Published by Writers Workshop Kolkata.

Reviewed by: Sutanuka Ghosh Roy

      Among all other things, the Pandemic taught us to find joy in the little things of the earth. Life is uncertain almost like the raindrops any moment it can evaporate so while it stays there on the Periwinkle one can freeze that moment into eternity. Nishi Pulugurtha an academic and creative writer based in Kolkata writes in the Preface to book, “It is the trying times that the pandemic brought about, the experiences of strange times that are still so much a part of life, of learning to deal with things in such times with all their restrictions that made me work at writing more form poems”. The slim volume comprises 52 haiku, five haibun, and three tanka. Haiku has its roots in the sixteenth century and is considered to be the most popular in Japanese form poetry, consisting, in English versions, three unrhymed lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.
Nishi Pulugurtha
        Haiku is composed of 17 sound units divided into three parts in 5-7-5 formats. The sound units are much shorter than English syllables the modern variant of haiku in the English language however does not follow the 17 syllables which are mandatory in the traditional fixed format of haiku. On the other hand, Tanka is a 31-syllable Japanese form poem and is written in five lines with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count form. The shift of an image to a personal response is seen in Tanka. Haibun is a prosmetric literary form, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is all-encompassing and includes prose poems, short stories, autobiographies, travel stories, diaries, essays, etc.
     Pulugurtha has followed the traditional fixed format of Haibun in some of her poems and in some she chooses the modern variant. This eclectic mix has brought freshness and variety to the collection. A close reading of the volume shows that she has tried to find peace in nature-- the blue sky above, the myriad cloud shapes, the bird headed home, gathering for a while and dispersing, the kites in the sky, all find a home in her poems. 
the lone ant moving
slowly leisurely here there
lone periwinkle

fiery bright yellow
amaltas sunny shiny
in isolation
There is an overwhelming sense of loss, pain and suffering,
there is no joy here
only shrieks and tears of pain
suffering and loss. 
These lines speak volumes ---Pulugurtha captures the frightening image of the deadly virus,
Screams shrieks cries for help
that go unnoticed unheard,
unseen—Worm eating
 The loss of memory of her Amma—is also a subject matter of these form poems. Despite being conscious of the pandemic these poems are a story of a subtle calm acceptance of life.  Pulugurtha uses memory as a trope to relieve herself of its burdens. Although she keeps this dance between time and memory simple--
she looks here and there
a little unsure about
what she’s looking at
     Pulugurtha deftly juxtaposes the imageries of loneliness with hope and explores the comforts of language and literature with references to the cyclical form of life and nature. She puts into words the beauty, pain as well and complexity of human nature. She uses simple language, this simplicity is a literary tool—it often reveals more than what meets the eye. These form poems use this tactic to their advantage; the advantage of saying more with less,
yellow little blooms
breaking through the concrete path
grass trammelled yet up
a little touch of colour makes her portrait colourful. Rain commonly signifies misery, gloom, or dejection. Rain also symbolizes life, purity, cleansing, or ablution—the title Raindrops on Periwinkle is thus significant. The slim volume is wrapped in a fabric that speaks of holding on to a forgotten art. The haikus, haibuns, and tankas cast a spell and the lingering effect continues long after one finishes reading the book.


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