April - May 2007
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
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,
Poonam Dev, in her beautiful melodious voice sang one of the ghazals from the
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.
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.
More articles by Malkiat Singh
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