Review of 'Moon in My Tea Cup' a Poetry Collection by Basudhara Roy
'A book of poems that attracts one because of its most unique cover and then comes the content that will not disappoint you at the least’.
Moon in my Tea Cup is a book of poems with 52 poems and it’s a debut collection of poet Basudhara Roy, who is also an Assistant Professor of English in Karim City College in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. The book begins with a profound foreword written by Mamang Dai who is a very renowned poet and novelist herself from the North-East and a Padamshree and Shaitya Akademi awardee. In her words “Vivid, lyrical, Basudhara’s poems resonate with expressions of strong feeling finely controlled, balanced with wit and humor and a quiet, meditative quality exploring the varied themes of ‘Commitment’, ‘Conjugation’ and a lot more.
This foreword made my willingness much strong to read the book and delve into it deeper as being a poet I feel poetry easily and it touches my heart, moreover I always find it intriguing to read other contemporary poets. To my surprise I found the book above excellent and each poem in the collection is a journey in itself. The poet’s first opening musing in the preface segment touched a similar chord as reading those I could somehow make out that this is perhaps going to be a book by another hopelessly romantic writer who has shown another world of existence and thought process through verses. In poet’s words,
What if I never moved stars,
Never kissed your skies?
I mirrored your moon,
In my teacup tonight.
These above lines truly show me the reflection of another poetic soul and I had all the reasons to turn the pages and read on. The very first poem is ‘Culinary Love’. And how profoundly its written and show the merging of a mundane world with the emotions and feelings of a poet’s heart, how she is trying to please her beloved and somehow the result remain unsatisfying and in the end her emotions are only left as aching words not heard and understood by the one she wishes to convey them.
There are other poems in the collection that have an expression of that pain like being separated from the beloved, the angst, and the twinge that couldn’t find the way from mouth became poetry in paper and remain unvoiced, lying meagerly as faltered emotions in the blank pages of her heart. ‘Parting’ is one such poem and it’s true that melancholy gives rise to such voluminous and heavy emotions that can only change into poetry if not ever expressed through mouth. Then how the heroine of her story is fearful to bring about in the front those words that had finally taken shape of a draft fearing that the lover of hers might find out or see himself in her words, she destroyed it. ‘Manuscript is one such poem that spreads the silent ignominy of the poet to be understood well by the reader. Then there is that incessant wait of a muse who is seeking refuge into those moods of lament and solitude where she feels the moments heavy upon her heart and time seems much like a pendulum which reminds her of its being cruel upon her. ‘Waiting’ is one such poem where we see all those emotions of a sadistic poet’s heart spilling painful love while eyes waiting for her lover’s arrival. The analogy of someone’s presence and how it occupies the space has been turned into the other way around by expressing the heaviness killing the poetess of his absence is well-defined.
In this room,
Heavily occupied by your absence,
That awaits every second,
Your breezy return.
Then In ‘Saffron Rain the beautiful symbolism has been shown of how the hue reminds her of the promises that her lover made, and somewhere now she misses those, is a well crafted poem in few words with a much profound sense. But amid the love lost feeling poems, there is one warm and comforting poem that I enjoyed reading was ‘Journey’ though it too speaks of reminiscence and of her childhood days, her time spent with her father and mother, and now the loss of his presence around and into her life, where she is living in the mundane world yet somehow tries to see that known face, whom she misses too much in the faces of acquaintances and the passengers of the railway coach she travels with each day. The void in her heart comes out much lucidly in this poem.
Somewhere along the way they parted,
As discontented travelers
Seeking new destinations,
And this new bond was forged,
That claims me now,
We never met and very few people.
In this big busy city know,
That my father is not mine and mine not with me,
And that I live as I travel on a railway coach,
With acquaintances for passengers.
Another poem in this collection that grabbed my attention was ‘Used Body’, a true and slightly gloomy depiction of a girl’s journey from getting educated at a convent school, soon tied into the knots of connubial bond and how her life, her womb everything is taken, yet her life has to go on as duties of being into a Grihastha, being a dutiful wife, who at time suffers insomnia and still remains unheard by her spouse, as she is expected to perform her part, as those were the silent promises she had made long back when she tied the knot. This poem would actually touch myriad women’s heart as many suffer such hollowness and void in their lives and yet they have to move on and fulfill their mundane tasks, often leaving behind who they were and of becoming a nobody in the horde.
And in the gamut of poet’s protagonist depicting unsaid words that remains confined within the manacles of heart, her moods of melancholy and somewhere rebellious yet submissive demeanor I found this last poem ‘Pillion-riding, on a Winter Evening’ in the collection much deeper in the core and metaphorical on the surface. The poet has expressed a story of two women, sisters or soul friends perhaps who have come far in life being middle aged women and how apart from suffering from middle aged syndromes they are still taking care of their families, they share their hearts with each other in the winters when most of the time their bodies are covered with shawls but the warmth of their friendship is more strong than the chills of winters and they have their share of joys, sorrows yet they have clutched the life in their palms and smile to it. This I found a warm and candid poem of feelings and emotions of middle aged life and its crisis.
We cling to each other
To bear the cold,
Heavy with coats, shawls,
Scarves taut over ears,
Language and Structure: This book has a lucid flow, yet each poem is carved metaphorically and symbolically making it carry deeper meaning within and also the imagery is reflective and somewhere much mundane which made me connect with each poem on a different level understanding and visualizing the moments when the poems must have been created. The book is structured well with each poem given place where the mood sets in of the poet reflecting them in precise manner.
Chrysanthemum Chronicles' Verdict: The poetry collection ‘Moon in My Tea Cup’ is commendably done by poet Basudhara Roy and each poem is reflective of feminine emotions, feelings and desires at a level where I feel one can easily connect with those. Secondly her observation towards an ordinary life that is going by where she finds poetry in them is truly the most intriguing part. This book is a great collection that every poet must read to know that there are so many voices hidden in small towns and cities which are truly excellent and for knowing the different styles of expressive voices that can actually make you feel awe. Lastly this is the most different book as its cover has been hand stitched with a Saree border and in the beginning it has hand written calligraphy which was something that caught my attention. As in this fast paced world such publication and book making exists was really a new thing for me to know and I found it the biggest unique point of this book.
Basudhara Roy born in 1986, has been teaching English for the last eight years as Assistant Professor in Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. A student of St. Xavier's School, Bokaro Steel City, and later alumnus and gold medalist (2009) of Banaras Hindu University. Basudhara was awarded the UGC Junior Research Fellowship and has earned her doctoral degree from Kolhan University, Chaibasa, for her work on the explorations of cultural space in the short fiction of Bharati Mukherjee, Chitra Banerjee and Jhumpa Lahiri. Her areas of academic interest are diaspora studies, women's writing, gender studies and postmodern criticism. Her poems, articles, short stories and research papers have appeared in several journals within the country. 'Moon in My Tea Cup' is her first collection of poems. Fond of books, plants, music and good conversation, Basudhara lives in Jamshedpur with her husband and two little sons and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org