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Kavitha Gopalakrishnan’s Review of Winged Reason

The Matrix of Cultural Co-existence: K. V. Dominic’s Winged Reason as an attempt to enlighten the need of cultural cohesion and interaction between the flora, fauna and human worlds

 

Kavitha Gopalakrishnan

(appeared in IJML 1.1 (July 2011)

 

 

Omnia vivunt;  Omnia inter se conexa.

(Everything is alive; everything is interconnected.)

– Cicero (qtd. in Business Insider)

 

Multiculturalism is the latest key term used in practically all critical discourses, as it is a broader, fairer, tolerant system that adapts and accommodates the sentiments of diverse cultures. It appreciates, accepts and promotes multiplicity and diversity of people. But in this research article, I wish to seek another basic outlook: the co-existence and cohesion between the Homo sapiens, flora and fauna. Such an outlook would profoundly change our thinking and influence our attitudes. K.V. Dominic’s Winged Reason, tries to highlight the interconnectivity between the plant, animal and human worlds. He envisions the world as a whole with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive interdependencies. Michel de Montaigne, essayist rightly says, “There is nevertheless a certain respect, a general duty to humanity, not only to beasts that have life and sense, but even to trees and plants. We owe justice to men, and graciousness and benignity to other creatures . . . there is a certain commerce and mutual obligation betwixt them and us” (N.pag). Hence, the umbrella term ‘multiculturalism’ ideally should include the sensibilities, sensations, fears and pains of not only the diverse human community but also the plant and animal community.

In the collection Winged Reason, the poet seems to be in total communion with the whole world, inclusive of plants and animals. He is able to read the mind of the speechless beings and pens down their heart-rending cries. Pained at their predicament he writes on behalf of them:

If a heaven is there

we will reach there first

and pray to God to shut you out.     (“A Sheep’s Wail” 25)

We are filled with pain and remorse when we read “A Sheep’s Wail”:

The fur God gave me,

mercilessly you sheer

to make you cosy.

The milk for my lamp

you suck and drain

and grow fat and cruel

. . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . .

Man, you are the cruelest,

you are the most ungrateful

of all God’s creations.    (24-25)

In “Ammini’s Demise,” he forces us to spare a thought for these mute beings:

Thousands of fiends

inhabit this planet,

turning the earth

to a big slaughter house,

as if man alone has

the right to live here.

God, make them humane

and turn them into angels.  (65)

The poet further relates how he was blessed with an all-encompassing compassion for other beings:

Once when I pulled a fish,

Flashed a horrible vision:

I am pulled from the sky;

death struggle on the line.

Awestruck and repentant,

I unhooked the fish

and dropped in the water.  (“My Teenage Hobby” 48)

He shows how he means letter and spirit of what he says:

lived non-veg life;

believed in the teachings

that man is the centre of universe

. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . .

my eyes are opened at last

and I have become

a pure vegetarian.       (“How I Became a Vegetarian” 76)

The poet is equally moved at the plight of plants and trees and effectively conveys it in his poems. We are moved to tears when we read “I am just a Mango tree.” We wonder how man can act so mercilessly:

Dear, why should they cut this tree,

a cool shelter to countless?”

“They plan to build a waiting shed here.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . .

Can’t they spare me and

build it some were else?         (41)

The “Nature’s bounties,” the poet pens the beauty of harmonious existence:

The birth of morn

Temples and mosques chanting hymns

Heaven on earth

The sun kisses

The eye opens

Lotus blooms

. . . . . . . . . . .

Jasmine’s hand

Caressing touch on my neck

Utter dilemma.     (49)

The poet also portrays the cultural disharmony between the rich and the poor, the blessed and the challenged, the elite and the proletariat, men and women, city dwellers and village inhabitants, the West and the East.

In the poem “Onam,” the poet recounts the legend of the festival and brings to light the essence of it. He finally strikes a chord when he shows how the ostensible affluence fails to impress Maveli:

the golden rule of Maveli

an icon of the just king.

Equality prevailed in society;

no lies, no crimes, no deceit,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

All were happy;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But granted him a boon

to visit his people

once in a year.

Maveli visits on Onam;

Fed up he

he returns in tears.  (53-54)

The poet is pained to see the divided world and in “Haves and Have-nots,” he writes:

Haves and Have-nots:

man-made categories;

never in creator’s dream,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When millions die of hunger,

thousands compete for delicacies,

Minority always luxuriates

at the cost of

majorities’ necessities.

Plants and animals never divide

the earth among themselves;

What right has the mortal man

to divide and own this immortal planet?

What justice is there for the minority

to starve the majority?     (36-37)

It is in this manner, that the poet’s collection is truly multi-cultural. He includes the pain and aspirations of the less privileged. In “Lal Salam to Labour,” he empathizes with the labour class:

They sow the seed;

reap the corn;

and we eat and sleep.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

They build houses

where they never rest,

and there we live and snore.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

They clean roads and markets;

are shunned by us very often;

and we make them filthier and filthier.   (44)

In “City versus Village,” he gives the apt description of city and village cultures:

How hard it is—

the city dwellers—

Busy and selfish,

devoid of humanity

Each one lost

in his own island.

A crow friendly to community;

A dog there is

friendly to other dogs.

How innocent and malice-free

is village life!

where all live

in harmony and love.  (71-72)

In “Gayatri’s Solitude,” the poet hits at the western culture and affluence which makes us oblivious of the aged at home.

Gayatri aged eighty-two,

widowed at thirty-five

mother of five children:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

all in the States

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Her children under illusion:

their mother is cosy

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dawn to dusk,

sitting in an arm chair

looking at the far West,

longing for her children’s calls,

she remains lonely.    (31)

Through poems like “Vrinda” and “Cry of my Child,” the poet draws portrayals which seem to showcase how people inch forward despite physical handicaps and troubles. He sends a strong message that people should be more tolerant and accommodative. They should in fact derive strength from each other:

God, only one leg!

Skipping like a kangaroo

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

She turned her challenge

to strength and success.

A loud message for the world!  (57)

The poet, thus effectively encourages us to see ourselves as part of the fundamental unity of all beings. The poems in this collection help us to see our connection with all other human beings, and with other living creatures beyond. Only when we can identify ourselves as part of an interconnected system, only when we can feel one with the biotic community, can we consider ourselves to be truly multicultural. K. V. Dominic’s collection Winged Reason has indeed enlightened the need of cultural cohesion and interaction between flora, fauna and human worlds for a complete and fulfilling living on this planet.

 

                                                            Works Cited

 

Dominic, K. V.  Winged Reason (Poems). Delhi: Authorspress, 2010. Print.

Matai, D. K. “We are all One.” Business Insider. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.      http://www.businessinsider.com/we-are-all-one-2011-3.

Montaigne, Michel de. “Of Cruelty.” The Essays of Montaigne. Trans. Charles Cotton.Web. 11 Mar. 2011.

< http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Essays_of_Montaigne/Book_II/Chapter_XI>.