Blue Butterflies: A Bouquet of Poems: Reviewed By Anadi Charan Pradhan
Women in the Eyes of a Woman
When we talk about the problems and sufferings of women reflected in writings the book of Mrs. Namita Rani Panda is worthy to be mentioned. She is a promising poet from Odisha, India. Her Blue Butterflies: A Bouquet of Poems compromises of 70 poems. Most of her poems clearly depict the problems, sufferings, pent up emotions, joys, desires of women in general. She has chosen subjects from varied avenues with a strong feministic touch with simple and lucid style. Each poem exposes the readers to a different viewpoint of life. Her tone is consistently serious and empathetic. What is more important is her rhythm and rhyme that flows naturally from her potent pen like a perennial river; maybe, because of her close association with the language as a teacher in profession.
Her poems can be categorised into four groups
2. Social Stigmas against Women
3. Varied Roles of a Woman in her social life
4. Her problems and sufferings
Different types of crimes against women like domestic violence, abduction, molestation were prevalent in the society since time immemorial; but she has infused new blood, spirit and voice in the mythological characters from the 21st century point of view.
In the poem ‘Ahalya the Winner’, Ahalya, the mythological character of the Ramayana who was cursed and reduced to a stone by her husband Maharshi Gautama, is no more a mute sufferer. Rather she has the courage to raise her voice against injustice and exploitations:
“So, I the Ahalya announce today
I am the winner
And you the Gautama
the greatest loser forever!”
In Promulgation Amba, a character of the Mahabhrata, a victim of exploitation by Kuru Prince Bhisma , boldly promulgates:
“I am Amba, the invincible here
to give you a befitting blow!”
Though it seems propagandist it expresses the poet’s strong determination to wipe out all the exploitations against women from the society.
In An Unsung Song Urmila, the wife of Laxmana, who was left behind for long fourteen years when Laxmana accompanied Lord Rama and Sita to the forest , says:
“So my darling!
Let me tell you my final wish:
I wish never to have such a partner in any life
And O’ Lord! Urmia pleads,
Never give such a life to any other girl please!”
In the second category the following poems reflect the miserable conditions of women due to various stigmas prevalent in the society.
In the poem ‘Scarred Identity’ she has vividly described how tribal girls are caught between two fatal sufferings, both physical and mental, when forcibly tattooed to disfigure their beauty in order to protect them from sexual exploitations. And here also she asks the society:
“Now with a barred face and scarred identity
I would like to ask the keeper of the society,
How wise it is to disfigure the innocents permanently
And give freedom to brutal beasts of prey to pounce mercilessly?”
In ‘Why Can’t I be Blue’ she raises her voice boldly against the society which reserves the best for the boys and set asides the girls denying their freedom.
“I don’t say that pink is ugly and blue is holy;
I just yearn for my sole right to choose only.
Why do you snatch my right to be blue?
I’ll be blue, blue and only blue!”
Her poem ‘Womb without Womb’ highlights the pang of a mother who is forced to abort a girl child in her womb. It’s a strong voice against female foeticide:
“Save me! Save me!
Save my worthy womb!
Save the womb of womb of my womb!
Save the womb of the universe!
Can’t you here?”
Similarly ‘She’ and‘How Can I Go?’ clearly unmask the hypocrisy of the society where plans and programmes for empowerment of women are said to be implemented but ironically women are chained with the shackles of evil social systems.
In the third category her poems depict varied roles of women as a daughter, sister, wife, beloved and mother.
‘A Tribute to My Dad’ and ‘My Pole Star’beautifully describe the sweet and strong attachment of a daughter with her father:
“Though you’re no more you’re my pole star,
In both good and bad times you guide me ever.”
The Epitome of Forgiveness , The Sunset of My Life , The Unique pleasure and My Dream describe vividly the selfless sacrifice of a mother :
“But now my hands are entirely empty
As they are too busy in their own duties.
Though I’m left alone in abject pity
I pray God for their happiness.”
Mother reveals the undying patience, dedication and selflessness of a mother.
My wish and Shadow describe the role of a faithful life partner.
Now where ever you go, whatever you do
As a faithful shadow I follow you
As I love you and only you. (Shadow)
In the poem Bravery Award the feelings of a mourning wife beautifully describes her love and dedication to her departed husband.
Where you had left me still I stand
With no courage to move ahead
But as I promise you O’my dear!
I’ll never shed you in my tear.
The fourth category of poems which depicts the sufferings of the women are: My Wedding Ring, No Waiting for Buddha, Sacrifice, etc. In the poem My Wedding Ring the poetess has told how the wedding ring makes a woman ‘helpless hare in a snare’. The poem is concluded in the following lines:
The dear ring is heavier and bitter
And I’m in an impenetrable cage forever.
Thus compiled here are a collection of poems by poetess Namita Rani Panda on various aspects of the life of women which come from her extraordinary insights and profound inner experience. The poems are composed in a style which can be quite intelligible to anyone who has a love for English poems. I’m lucky to come across this invaluable collection which has left lasting imprints in my mind.
About the Author
Namita Rani Panda (M. Phil English, M. Ed) is born and brought up in Sambalpur district of Odisha. Now she works as Vice-Principal in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Mundali, Cuttack under the Ministry of HRD, Dept. of School Education and Literacy, Govt of India, New Delhi. She has been conferred Academic Excellence Award 2017 by NVS, RO, Bhopal for her outstanding performance as a subject teacher in English. Her two published anthologies are Blue Butterflies: A Bouquet of Poems and Rippling Feelings. Her poems are highly acclaimed in many national and international journals. She proclaims her voice boldly against social injustices and inequalities. She glorifies universal brotherhood, sense of patriotism, love for life, nature and peace.
About the Reviewer
Sri Anadi Charan Pradhan, M. A. (Eng), M. Ed, started his career as a teacher in Jyotivihar High Schol run by Sambalpur University. Later he joined in Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti as a Trained Graduate Teacher in May 1989 and after serving in different Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas as TGT and PGT he retired as Vice Principal from JNV Jharsuguda in April 2015. He has a keen interest in literature and he writes poems and short stories related to life and nature.