Sukama and Other Poems

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Author: Nandini Sahu
Publisher: The Poetry Society of India, Haryana
(Pp 106, ISBN: 978-81-925839-2-1, Rs 150)

Sukama and Other Poems is an amazing and successful contribution to Indian literature written in English. Perhaps, the author – Nandini Sahu, wrote this volume with a view to reconsider our established and biased opinion on the poor and marginalized on the one hand and women in general on the other.

Sukuma and Other Poems consists of 48 exquisitely crafted poems to suit to the purposes of representing the case of the subaltern. The inspiration for the volume seems to stem from the poet’s visit to her native place in 2010 when she heard the sad demise of Sukama, her childhood domestic help. The title poem “Sukama” delves deep into Sahu’s past to reconstruct the social milieu prevalent during her childhood in the true spirit of a woman concerned with a hierarchical system that had taken woman for granted .The tribal Kandh woman has been treated as a surrogate or “foster mother” who has been presented with a kind of supportive solidarity that only poet of Nandini Sahu’s stature can explore. That she was a pretty and attractive woman during her youth, and her tattooed face (her mother’s protective steps in order to make her less attractive and less desirable) speaks volumes about the plight of a marginalized, tribal woman. The idyllic atmosphere has been replaced by the city bred hybridity and with it the promise and innocence of Sukama also disappear. The poet urges her readers to support the cause of this “slum-dog tale” of the poor and helpless woman.

All the poems are thought-provoking and present a panoramic canvas where the subaltern’s case is being adequately represented. Beautifully bound, with an enigmatic photograph on the cover page, the collection deserves a refreshing outlook.

–Gagan B Purohit

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