On a balmy evening at 6.15 p.m. at Dilli Haat, opposite INA market, New Delhi, Brian Mendonca launched A Peace of India: Poems in Transit his second self-published book of verse. The day was 16 April - the same day Brian launched his first book of poems Last Bus to Vasco: Poems from Goa 5 years back in Vasco, Goa.
It was indeed a moment of triumph for Brian showcasing in A Peace of India about 80 poems written across 23 States/Union Territories of India over a period of over 12 years, viz. 1998-2010.
Shyamala Narayan, Bibliographer, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, who released the book said that the Indian Railways should have sponsored the book - since Brian had travelled across India extensively by rail. The comment was apt- since it 16 April was Railway Day.
Mr A. G. Mendonca, Brian's dad, who hosted and sponsored the first book launch in Vasco, sat at the internet cafe in Vasco on the launch day of the second book and sent his speech by email at 2.p.m. Sonya Gupta, Head, Department of Latin American Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, read dad's speech from Brian's sleek Lenovo ideapad. Dad observed that Brian wanted to dedicate the second volume to friends and well-wishers in Delhi in tribute to his living more than a decade of his life there.
Payal compered the function ably and introduced the poet and Shyamala to the audience. Payal's assiduous quoting from Brian's lastbustovasco.blogspot.com introduced his ouevre to the audience. Her reading of Yehuda Amichai's epic poem 'A Man in His Time', from the blog, was specially beautiful.
A hush descended on the poetic space - so like the ancient Greek amphitheatre -- as Brian read from his work. Readings by the poet from the volume included 'Diu', 'Origins,' 'Lucknow,' and 'Autumn Woman.' Aloke Roy Chowdhury, Director, Asian Age, and Brian's mentor in Delhi suggested that Brian provide some annotation for his poems on his blog. Brian was of the view that poetry should always leave something unsaid. He reminisced that the font for the book of verse - Perpetua - was arrived at after a long time. 'The font signifies that poetry should always be perpetual' - said Brian
Brian posed proudly by his wife Queenie and his little son Dwayne - who took in the proceedings with remarkable elan. In this respect Brian was twice blessed.
Dilli Haat, with its numerous stalls selling fare from all the States of India provided the perfect ambience for the launch. As Rajesh Juneja, Manager, Food and Craft Bazar, Dilli Haat said, 'The Haat provides the 3 C's - Craft, culture and cuisine.' Brisk sales at the launch covered the rental for the stall and the cost of hiring the chairs.
Perhaps the exquisite Dastkar Haat Samiti maps of the States of India which Robinson Raju and Shaoni Sanyal gamely helped to put up to decorate the stall, provided the perfect mood for verse. Justin Jamang made the occasion memorable by clicking away at the event and providing the beautiful photos above which accompany this text. The beautiful flexi banner prepared by Lalit at Shree Balaji Printworld, Shahpur Jat, Delhi in ochre exuded poetry. Brian looks forward to unfurling the banner now in Goa.
Photo courtesy: Justin Jamang