I must confess something today, dear reader – for the longest time since my book was published, I felt nothing. Strange, for someone who’d been versifying since the age of seven and working all her life towards that day, to feel nothing, isn’t it? I thought it must be the nerves, or the initial shock, but despite all the appreciation and kudos, I still knew my heart remained unstirred…
While going through some old almirahs to retrieve a document, my eyes fell upon the certificate I’d received from the Convent I studied at, on winning an impromptu poetry contest on Environment Day. The theme had been “Nature at its best and worst”, and my poem was titled – “The Different Moods of Nature”; and although I must admit I’d “helped” a few of my friends write their pieces, I knew, on instinct, in my soul, I was writing something special. I guess I’d always known it…
When I was a young girl, I used to sit by the window that looked upon a grand tree whose arms stretched to the heavens against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, writing in the diary my grandfather had given to me. Changing seasons never failed to charm me, and everything about nature thrilled me. It was as though I could “sense” the emotions of my environs, and they sang to me their mystical lore.
I loved writing with ink pens and wrote pages upon pages, mesmerised by the enchanting scent of ink-stains on my fingers. The thrill of seeing my words in print, upon being published in local newspapers and magazines during my primary and secondary years in school, cemented the belief that all I wanted to do was write, and do that for all my life.
In high school, I remember writing an essay for my exams that not only took up two of the three hours allotted for the English paper, but exceeded the ‘word-limit’ to an extent that could only bring the wrath and punishment of the teacher upon me – but ended up being shown to the very appreciative Director and the staff, and getting published in the school annual.
Before exams, I must admit, I spent more time gazing out the window and imagining worlds than I ever did studying. My parents never caught on, because I more than made up for it in my results, but my grandfather, whom I call “Dada”, always knew my secret – because I read these poems out to him. He was and has always been the most dedicated, enthusiastic and oftentimes, sole audience to my poetry readings – and the inspiration for many a poem I’ve written, as has my dear “Maa” – my grandmother, whom we lost many years ago… Dark River is dedicated to them.
Through the thick and thin, and highs and lows of life, poetry remained a constant. Poetry became the world I created to breathe in, and to escape in.
I’ve been in and out of a lot of things in life, dear reader, but never stopped writing. Blogging was the icing on the cake and helped me develop confidence and connection with people of my ‘soul tribe’, bards and poets and writers of fiction and reality, whose love to my words ever since the very first post, has been immeasurable! I thank each kind writer for each kind word – I know they feel it like no one does; each loving remark and each soul stirring one, one of which comes to mind while typing this, “…your poem saved my marriage.” Although there must have been some saving grace already present in the connection, merely ignited by the poem; these words, sent to me on the very first month of my blogging affected me in a way so profound, I’d have to scour the depths of the English Language to describe it!
Though my poems are hopeful in their hearts, they are, as most of you already know and perceive, born of shadows and sorrows that have been a part of my life always.
God, poetry and my soul tribe have helped me navigate the storms, and keep hope alive like the North Star, and so, now, I am better, no longer fighting the hard times – but versifying them, believing and knowing through experience, that the sun always, always shines.
Today, I realised that “Dark River” is not just any “deluge of poetry” – it is the soul of life, and its experiences, and a certain touch of the pagan, natural world. It is a voyage on which the reader accompanies me to delve into the depths of their own selves. Dark River is a toast to identity, “the mirror that reveals more than it reflects”; to affection and attraction, “the thirst, that unquenched too, is satiated”; to people, in “the voice that alludes”; to life’s wisdom and “the secrets unveiled”; to the thoughts that appear in “the silences of the night”; to bards and readers, “travellers and storytellers”; to nature – “the beauty without”; to God – and “the faith that endures”; to transformation and “Death” and most of all, to resurrecting HOPE, and “reaching the shore…”
It is through these ten elements that Dark River runs, carving its course, and I couldn’t be more at peace with its publication.
And now, as I run my hand over its smooth, dark cover, I feel my heart beat with new life and vigour, and a deep, deep, deep gratitude for you, my dear reader.
With immense love and gratitude,
© Isha Garg