Unfettered by conventions | Daily News

Unfettered by conventions

Title: Sakmanaka Seya

Author: Rajendra Bandara

Autobiographies are composed by people who believe that their lives have something to say to the readers. Maybe it is a lesson or valuable thoughts of a bygone era that could be of importance. The language and style handled by the individual would most of all be representative of certain cultural and even historical value.

As regards to conventional rhyme and rhythm, I have almost always wondered how a person could find his emotions or thoughts to a pre-fixed formula. Would it not seem artificial? Yet never have I stopped admiring the poetry available. Could and if so how far could a creative writer express himself under such conventions. Could one indulge if forced by conventions? Then could one also apply the same argument against free verse? Could one stop or be critical of another who chooses to intensify the meanings expressed through words through rhythm?

In reading Rajendra Bandara one is deceptively mistaken by the simplicity of his work. One may deceptively be lulled into the belief that he had fallen back on the romantic era of the verse where one is compelled to be descriptive and tends to glorify nature and the harmony of the past. A poet where he nostalgically recalls a lost culture and rejects the change. Rajendra does accept this reality and emphasizes that one is unable to reject reality. But the realization is handled with a great deal of maturity where he finds solace ( if needed at all) in inevitability.

In the first few poems, one finds him recalling the personal relations – the unconscious actions of a rural mother in the village where she even strives to protect him from the rays of the sun-fearing his skin might become dark. Likewise the love of the wife who shares his life irrespective of the fact that the nuptials had not become productive irrespective of traditional expectations. The harsh reality does not affect the hearts bound with the ‘golden thread’. He recalls his childhood shared with his cousin – bullied by elders that their companionship recalled a ‘crow on a golden king-coconut’. Yet one does find the poetic melancholy seeping through at times.-

‘End not seen but smudged

Steps not clear with no destination

Dark hands embrace the sunlight

While the day's work is done.’

And-

‘Though fate a conscious strikes

He walks through in a stopper

Mature with faded abode

The playground of past a tomb.’

Yet he does not fail to grasp the lesson in futility that life had taught him. The maturity had been a result of experience. Incapacity to comprehend had been the cause of sorrow and dissatisfaction.

‘Nobody believes that I am not the Maker

But they themselves are the makers.’

The religious values of the poet finding an outlet in the philosophical context.

The subject of Love had been handled by the poets in its many shades. As for example the taste of first love that makes a school to shed tears in the confines of her room and the elderly married gentleman who is sexually attracted to beauty.

Yet it is the deeper messages conveyed that are most prominent. Though most of the messages are not direct, they are clear enough and quite effectively conveyed through subject and convention. Yet his feelings at times seem to be quite striking ie in the poem ‘Postmodernism’.

‘Mud was thrown on lamps of intellect

Removing what covers harsh nakedness

Washing in mud Hegel to Pushoo

Enjoy life as it is enjoyed in freedom. (p 54)

He is explicitly expressive in the poem where he is specifically critical of ideologies.

‘You are me and I am you

Good, bad not two but one

Darkness and light the same

No difference between

Samsara and Nirvana.(p78)

Ultimately it all boils to old fashioned religious values shared by almost all the religions. You may be addicted to fine living in your ignorance of reality. Wear only branded clothes, travel first class but ultimately what you buy them would be bought them would be money that had passed through many hands. Which the poet does not say, but implies .if it was a woman she would have been a whore.

Through this autobiographical poetry Rajendra Bandara had fulfilled a mission person of mature years with a deep understanding of the plight of man should have indulged in. The reading is enjoyable, as well as reflective.

Prof. Kamani Jayasekera


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