Brian Mendonca hosting a multilingual poetry reading at the Goa Arts and Literature Festival 2016 at International Centre, Donapaula, Goa on 10 December 2016. Seated left to right are Brian Mendonca (English), Ramesh Veluskar (Konkani), Darshan Darshi (Dogri), Manikuntala Bhattacharya (Assomiya), Suresh Rituparna (Hindi) and Sailabala Mahapatra (Odiya)
It was a singular honour to be invited to host a multilingual poetry reading session at GALF 2016. Stepping out of the pages of my self-published book of poems A Peace of India: Poems in Transit (New Delhi, 2011), this was India on a platter of poets. Opening with my own poem 'A Peace of India' the poets on the dais regaled the sparse audience with the lilt of their own specific language.
Overwhelmed by the occasion Sailabala from Puri, Odisha prefaced her reading with a preamble stating her joy at being present for the festival. My mind went back to my visit to Bhubaneshwar c. 1995 and the triangle of Konark-Puri-Bhubaneshwar which we tried to cover. Sailabala spoke about Puri being the home of Jaganath - the Lord of the world, and famous for the rath-yatra, viz. the only time in a year when the Lord comes out to meet his people. Quiet and soft-spoken I am reminded of Jayanta Mahapatra and his first lines of a poem, 'At Puri / the crows'.
Darshan Darshi spoke about the unrest in Kashmir. He took me back to the days I visited Kashmir in the days of militancy in 1998 and the anxious moments when there was firing across the Dal lake. Here are 2 poems from his blog firstname.lastname@example.org:
By Darshan Darshi
I hate mirrors of all types,shapes and sizes
becau'z their overt and exact reflections
support not the perceived images of my self.
I love truth and am averse to lies of all sorts
but many a times a lie is more soothing than truth
and is destined to bring you nearer to your life
So on this day of september twentynine
when world is visiting the world heart day
I promise to say, good bye to all those things
which are not in sync with my heart and soul.....!!
Mirrors have no heart,emotions or sensitivity
so I will never look into the inside of these infidels
In fact I propose to break all mirrors
to save my image of my perceptions.