Review of Runcible Spoons and Peagreen Boats By Dr. Santosh Bakaya
Runcible Spoons and Peagreen Boats, My father’s Last Letter To Me, and other poems is a poetry book by Dr. Santosh Bakaya that takes one down the memory lane where the readers can find themselves reflecting into the bygone era of poets’ childhood. The book is autobiographical in nature but as the readers go through the poems, they can see a part of their childhood too through the poets' pen.
The title of the book is indeed very interesting. Runcible spoons and Peagreen Boats! I too was piqued to know what it meant. Dr. Santosh Bakaya very candidly brings forth her conversation with her father in the author’s note where we learn that it is a nonsense word invented by Edward Lear. However, the author has dexterously used the word in her poetry and given it the much-needed approval by making it the title of her book.
The cover adds to the nostalgia the book renders. It has a border of the pictures from the envelope with her father’s writing scribbled on it. With the address of the sender and the stamp on the envelope, the cover transports us to the era when there was no electronic communication. Indeed, the cover in itself reflects the daughters' sentiments towards her father who has preserved the letters and made her father’s handwriting eternal by placing it on her book cover’s page.
Published by AuthorsPress, the book is a compilation of 41 poems coming straight from Dr. Bakaya’s heart. The book has been divided into four sections Footfalls, Granny, Dad, and Mummy. It takes us down the memory lane where there is A Pleasing Serenity, The toothless Grin of the granny, where there’s Dad’s Rockery, and Those Smells of mummy! The poet has beautifully captured the essence of memories and longings not only through the poem but also through the thoughtful titles.
The tone of the poems is lyrical, interspersed with dialogues lending a dramatic touch off and on. As we read the poems the book literally spills out stories from the poets' childhood.
“No, my dad is not old, he is just prematurely grey.”
Ah, how it pained, and to dad I complained.
“I feel bad, when they call you old, dad.
How can you be old?”
“Oh common child, don’t be riled.
Age is just a number, pedal away I am here.”
A heartwarming conversation between father and child as he gives a push to her cycle. Such relatable thoughts and moments for any child who would hate to hear their father being tagged as an old man. And a loving father assuring her that age is just a number. Haven’t we all been through this phase with our parents?
The lyrics in the poems are characterized by the intensity of passionate longing and simplicity. The distinctive feature of Dr. Santosh Bakaya’s writing is the use of imagery drawn from the most varied and heterogeneous sources.
While down below, the Jhelum quietly flowed
And the wind lisped happy songs in the willow.
The wind in the neem tree in Jaipur, also sang songs,
And the birds also tweeted joyous greetings.
From the sun dabbled lawns in The Black Beauty to the jostling Bapu Bazaar in Jaipur.
Talking about khewa, ksheer chai, kangri, and pheran in Kashmir, and Squinting, as the sunbeams canoodled with the trees. The poet with the agile use of words transports the readers from the present moment to the lands of the yore suffused with nostalgia.
Your trouser legs safely pinned up,
Hat hilted to one side,
The sunrays playing with your salt and pepper hair.
I saw you once again, yesterday night.
Words are enough for Dr. Bakaya to conjure up an image of a place or a person.
A book that is soaked with nostalgia I just could not help noticing the time described in different hues by the poet in various poems.
‘The happy happy times!’
‘The time was blithe.’
‘When the time was a handsome horse going clipty-clop
Galloping at a canter, unwilling to stop.’
‘Time curls its lips in arrogance.’
The intensity of homesickness and longing for the bygone era is strengthened as time moves on in each poem. The reference to the time does show how the poeta reminiscences and preserves each moment as a timeless treasure.
She also brings about emotions in all her simplicity.
I suddenly felt cold, and headed towards my mom’s room.
I knew it was warm there.
These beautiful lines from Unchanging Changes, certainly stole my heart and show the depth of love and affection between the mother and child.
She fondly remembers in Granny of the Red Roses, the meeting of her grandparents. How she had preserved her fond memories. The poeta ponders…
Did she blush?
Did his hands brush her cheeks fleetingly?
Did she gush a thousand little words of gratitude as the Blue Whistling Thrush sang and sang?
Is she still wooing her with red roses up there- his first and last crush?
The poem transports the readers to a dreamland to ponder on the romance that could have occurred between two beautiful souls.
Dr. Santosh Bakaya, a poet with wit, humour exudes like a fountain in her poetry. A naughty, chirpy child surfaces as we flip through the pages, blatantly termed as a leprechaun by her father. The writing style of Dr. Santosh Bakaya is such that even a sad poem will leave the readers with a smile on their lips. All elements have been fused together to bring out the profound love for family. Each word in the book starting from the dedication to the epilogue comes from the depth of her heart. The poet has beautifully penned down each word and has brilliantly immortalized the love for her family.
Review done by Associate Editor Shristee Singh
Dr. Santosh Bakaya is not only a brilliant writer, poet, and author but the recipient of many national and international awards. An academic - poet -essayist- novelist - biographer – editor -Ted Speaker – creative-writing mentor, Dr. Santosh Bakaya has been internationally acclaimed for her Poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, [Ballad of Bapu]. Her Ted Talk on The Myth of Writers Block is very popular in creative writing Circles.
Some of her books are:
Where are the Lilacs? [Poetry]
Under the Apple Boughs [Poetry] Songs of Belligerence [Poetry].
Flights from my Terrace [Essays]
A Skyful of Balloons [Novella]
Bring out the tall Tales [Short stories with Avijit Sarkar]
Only in Darkness can you see the Stars [a Biography of Martin Luther King Jr]
She runs a very popular column Morning Meanderings in Learning and Creativity.com. Her International Reuel award winning long, narrative hundred page poem, Oh Hark! has hit the market in a new form with illustrations by Avijit Sarkar.