Romancing with Words

Review by Susheel Gajwani


Borders and Broken Hearts 
Genre: Poetry
Author: Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla
Publisher: Haoajan Publishers
Year of Publication: 2023
Language: English, Sindhi
ISBN: 978-81-957534-0-6
Pp: 107, hardcover
Price: ₹ 300 INR


“Occasionally I feel like an island
an unnoticed speck
a lost postcard
with no address,
sitting in the Post Office
with a stamp reading ’Undivided India’.


Suhseel Gajwani
This stanza from the poem, Leaving Sindh, encapsulates Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla’s commendable anthology, ‘Borders and Broken Hearts.’
In the other poem, Sindh, she brings in the aura of Sachal.

‘’He (Sachal) comes alive in the folktales
Of Moomal Rano
sung by Amma sitting on a charpoy,
smoking ferociously from a brass hookah
She’s ninety-four now,
quilting an Ajrak mattress
inherited from the ancestors
of her ancestors
umbilically connected 
to the land and its people
Sindh, the land of Sufi saints………’’
The ninety-four-year old Amma here in the poem evokes nostalgia. She is the Amma every Sindhi has had in the family. A yearning for the past, a wistful longing of the unknown.
That’s what Partition does to you. 
 
Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla's fourth anthology of poems, so aptly entitled, ''Borders and Broken Hearts'', are the poems of parting & partition.
 The poems lift you to a rapturous world of joy and sorrow.
And your heart sings along as Gayatri swishes her magic wand of words that strike a chord within you.
For instance, the poem 'Terminal'-
''The valley of moonflowers will entice you across the barbed wire''
'The words resonate again and again,
How does one switch off the little voice?'
Its translation in Sindhi, Aakhri Haalat, is so much in sync with the poet's vision,
'' Gulaab ji ghaati-a mein taar mein phaasi na vanjeen
Akhar kannann mein gunjan pya
Keean andar jo awaaz bund kaje?''

Form, metre, rhyme, scansion, in a poem, can only accentuate a thought, a feeling of being. 
Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla has a grasp over the nuances of words. She knows words have power, that poetry can be soothing, poetry can be nourishing for the soul.
Her poem, 'Journey,' hums to the beat of the glistening rain:
''...my hands weary, mud-crack like
touch the leaves of the Tree of Life
they sing, they sing
the enchanted tale of the blue-skinned God.''
But what is equally fascinating is its translation in Sindhi that keeps up the sentiment of the original English poem. 
'' Barsaat ji rimjhim mein,
Mitti-a jahdaa munhinjaa sukaayal hatha,
Zindagi-a jo vannu chhuhee varto aa,
Hu gungunain tha
Jhulelal ji kahani.....''
When your heart gleams on reading a poem, when the stars shine on reading a poem, and you stay in the poem's afterglow, that's the mark of a sparkling poem.  It might be the woman you loved but never got to express, and are still in love. That's Gayatri's poetry.
A good poem stays with you, a memory of the words, images, feelings, or ideas nudge you days later. 
In ‘Folktales,’ just feel the rhythm in her poem,
Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla
“Satan is a sorcerer.
Apostrophe is a moment of reflection
Before stealing someone’s land
                         someone’s wife
                        someone’s dreams 
Period is the yarn of time
And also a full stop.”
Gayatri’s magic wand of words is breathtaking. Apostrophe is a moment of reflection, really.
I like Gayatri's poems as each poem has a story to tell, with fascinating words or words that jingle and dance.
'12 Gulmohar Cross Road' talks about her growing up years. A cloud of absence looming over her now fragmented house, her words bring the place alive in your mind,
'' the rooms were dressed with dust-covered bed sheets
and I inhaled a thousand street noises from the east facing balcony,
conversations flew to me like the fragile winged butterflies
bringing a chest of memories and a guest called melancholy.......
Everything comes back to you.''
The poet takes you by surprise by vividly describing her beloved abode and says with finality,
'' Everything comes back to you.''
No wonder, poets are philosophers, psychologists and healers.
Intimate Poetry is perhaps not easy to write and create the kind of silken magic that a poet may have in mind.
Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla writes Intimate Poetry with such swagger and panache that you go along with the rhythmic flow of the sensuous imagery she creates with deft build-up of a dreamy ambience. 
Romancing with Words, dear Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla.
Have a look.
'Je ne sais quoi' has a distinctive grace that is so stylishly Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla. 
''I smelled your cigarette smoke much before I saw you. 
Am I as missed as you?
Do you remember the wetness of that day that's seeped into our bodies, our souls, our lives forever.'
As a filmmaker, I find Gayatri's, 'Borders and Broken Hearts,' a celebration of lilting sounds and alluring imagery. 
What a terrific work, translating these beautiful, yet demanding poems, into Sindhi.
Take a bow, Shobha Lalchandani,  Barkha Khushalani & Rekha Sachdev Pohani.
Thank you, Gayatri, for taking us on a delightful, sentimental, rollercoaster ride through your poems of parting and partition.
May the Borders and Broken Hearts be healed.
***

Bio: Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla is an award-winning poet, translator, healer and French teacher from Mumbai. She is the author of three poetry collections – Borders and Broken Hearts, shortlisted for the PVLF Author Excellence Awards 2023, Invisible Eye long listed for Cochin Lit Fest Poetry Prize 2018 and The Empress’ Winner –II of the 2018 US National Poetry Contest by Ræd Leaf Foundation for Poetry Allied Arts. Accolades for her poetry include a special mention award in the Architectural Poetry Annual Competition 2020, the Panorama Special Jury Award, being shortlisted by Asia Pacific Writers and Translators. Her translated Sindhi poem ‘Safar’ won the first prize at the Kavya Kaumudi International Poetry Award. She is recipient of the Rahi Kadam Inspiration Award 2021. She is the author of ‘Healing Elixir’ The Hawakal Handbook of Angel Therapy, Numerology & Remedies.


Bio: Susheel Gajwani 
An eminent filmmaker and television producer, Susheel Gajwani has just completed his fourteenth feature film. A Sindhi feature film called, 'Aakhreen Train - The Last Train', based on a unique story by the legendary Sindhi Writer Shri Thakur Chawla.  A Mumbai University postgraduate in Human Resources, and a Doordarshan Producer for nine years, Susheel Gajwani headed Money Satellite Television Channel, an exclusive Business Television Channel, as its Founder-Vice-President.
Money Television was India’s first Business Television Channel. 


Susheel Gajwani
Filmmaker, Author
susheelbajomalgajwani@gmail.com

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