Free Press Journal

Whorelight and Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral: Two contrasting tales


Book: Whorelight

Author: Linda Ashok

Publisher: Hawakal Publishers

Price: Rs. 225

Number of pages: 76

Title: Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral

Author: Kiriti Sengupta

Publisher: Hawakal Publishers

Price: Rs. 350

Number of pages: 170


How contrasting can the experience of reading two books get? The reviewer experienced the very contrast in a span of two days flat. Snuggled with a copy of Whorelight, she savoured each and every poem that caught her unaware. The title in itself was intriguing but as she kept turning the pages, it got even more gripping. There is magic in each of them. Very simply written, just when you wonder why such an observation even deserves to be in print, the poet stuns you with where she takes you.

Such a kind of writing can only be attempted by someone who understands what “intricacy” means without shouting it from atop a building. The subtlety of each poem managed to strike a chord with the reviewer and by the time the book was kept away, and the real world beckoned, the reviewer got an entirely different perspective. For some time, the noise of vehicles felt like sounds that had stories to tell but only to those who waited for them to start talking. Call it exaggeration if you want to, but this is just a reflection of the beauty left behind by the writing.

Of Waters, Manners, Whore, Untongue and Processing the Order are some of the personal favourites of the reviewer. Of Waters, Manners is something which all readers of this newspaper too should read and for the sheer joy of reading, it has been shared below:
The waters return home to play with boats, dead sea-men, shells and when done, they bring back the toys to where their burial belong… the way pain returns us our bones or a gazelle forgives her hunter…the waters return everything except time and its own iridescence.

And then there is a kind of writing which shocks. It’s proof of how words can be powerful when stringed correctly into sentences (not necessarily long) – powerful enough to make one shudder and question the reality of the events one addresses as ‘real.’
In other words, it is a book which lets the reader create his/ her own space to ponder and even silently laugh at the moroseness of an existence often left unquestioned. Linda’s writing is like a breath of fresh air — it not only refreshes you, it also serves as a carving tool, which refurbishes your existence.

And soon, refreshed and upbeat, I opened the next book which had a bird on its cover, appearing to look afar, and was titled Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral. The title looked inviting but the author’s name was not easily readable. The red and yellow colours used for the name of the author and the book looked conflicting. It could have done with a more appealing one keeping in mind the cover image.

Never judge a book by its cover, they said. So, the reviewer chose to turn the pages of this one and got to know that it is a trilogy merged into one. The author, Kiriti Sengupta, did not write the three books (My Glass of Wine, The Reverse Tree, and Healing Waters Floating Lamps) to come up with a trilogy but rather “to gather his observations of the ‘self’ and the world around him” (the reviewer felt a string pulling her to warn that there might be danger ahead — a danger that she had witnessed several times — the danger of not gelling or simply not being attracted to the author’s views and ways of telling a story via a poem, short story or novel).
While the Hindu Literary Review has compared Sengupta’s short poems to Japanese Haikus, grasping the mystery and miracle of life in a cryptic idiom, the reviewer sat and turned a few more pages. One of the pages contained the following, titled Evening Varanasi:
Have you seen the floating lamps in the river? Water here is not the fire-extinguisher, but The flames ascend through water Prayers reach the meditating Lord.

When the reviewer fails to make a connection with the author of a book and immediately her defenses are up against a possible dislike, that’s when the reviewer must draw the line. For, it might be deceiving otherwise to the reader. And with that, this reviewer would like to draw the line.