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April - May 2007


Adhoorey Sapney

by Malkiat Singh

Adhoorey Sapney – Raj Modgil’s first collection of poems – was launched with none of the typical Indian speeches, flowery language, praises and slogans. It was a book launch with a difference. Monica Mohta, the Director of the Nehru Centre, first welcomed the assembled audience with a wise proposal;

“Before finding faults with others, you might as well clean the mirror and look at yourselves more closely, implying it is so easy to find faults in other writers; see how well you can write!”

The stage was then set. As always, the mastery of Riffat Shamim and Bhartendu Vimal was on show, bringing an intellectual and poetic integrity to the proceedings, with spoken verse from Raj Modgil’s collection, and contrasting her verses with examples of poetry of a lesser quality.

Raj Modgil was introduced to the audience, both as a poet and as a woman, a life long dreamer, dreaming of writing poetry in her mother tongue. Only after retirement from her teaching job did she embark on teaching herself to write Hindi and Hindi poetry. A self confessed romantic, she has the poet’s eloquent sensitivity to love, hate, the suffering that is the human condition, the trials, tribulations and joys of womanhood. Her poetry addresses all these themes, and much more besides. She is not only a poet but casts a philosophical eye on the world, and stresses that one cannot be the former without being the latter.

Love creates pain and pain becomes feelings, then weary words spread themselves on plain paper – you call it a Ghazal.

“At times of sadness, and then of happiness,

Tears flow.”

Poonam Dev, in her beautiful melodious voice sang one of the ghazals from the book

Raj Modgil spares no one, not even God, when she describes how the most basic of human dreams are shattered by natural disasters such as the Tsunami:

“Oh The Creator, what a sad dance,

With waves of Tsunami, how big a storm.

The water so kind and life’s provider,

Hidden within such a disaster.”

The poem was acted on stage with great feeling and sentiment by Riffat Shamim,Ahalya Sharma, Poonam Dev and Lalit Nagpaul

Raj Modgil does not spare the injustices of a patriarchal male dominated society. The following words were recited from one of her poems:

“In this world of males what authority has a queen,

She is born and brought up, to then spend her life so aloof.”

The launching ceremony, introduced by a brief speech by Rajesh Dubey, Hindi & Cultural Officer, High Commission of India. was performed by the well known broadcaster Ravi Sharma of Sun Rise Radio. The evening ended with a vote of thanks by Prem Modgil, followed by refreshments.

The book contains over sixty five poems, ghazals and geets. A volume of work that is at once tender and touching testament to the very nature of human condition and how it is shaped and informed by aspirations and dreams so often unfulfilled. And let it be noted that Raj Modgil is not just a romantic by nature but also compassionate in practice. All proceeds from the book are to be donated to a charity “Servants of the People” helping the poor in India.


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