In life we sometimes go through experiences and stories that tend to unfold in peculiar ways. To label something complex yet widely experienced by many into categories is indeed a herculean task. But, this is done in the most sophisticated manner by the author of the book Obscurity of Life.
Ajeesh Venugopalan’s Obscurity of Life has managed to encapsulate poems on various topics like love, exploitation of women, political issues like farmer suicides, poverty, education, female feoticide, and other social and environmental causes like the mangroves, tiger extinction and death. In an aim of spreading hope, the author has beautifully managed to pen down little anecdotes and short stories from his life. Speaking about what inspires his poetry Ajeesh says, “It has changed over time. As a young school kid, infatuation, women and social issues have inspired me. Right now, I am being inspired from the city’s battle with several traffic and pollution-based issues, along with a corrupt system. My parents and grandmother have inspired me. However, it all started while I as a young boy under 10, I picked my grandfather’s Hindi books and flipped through those pages scribbled by the likes of Kalidas, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Premchand and so on. Many of this comes from pain, humiliation, getting bullied, suppression and some pleasant moments. In short, ‘life’ is an inspiration.”
With every chapter Ajeesh adds in a story from his life and enhances its beauty with creative sketches of his own. The flow of the book is pretty much like the journey of life, beginning with love and ending it with death and the battles we fight through the journey in the middle. Most poems follow a rhythmic pattern while some are free verse and yet expressive. When asked about the structural or stylistic techniques he uses, Ajeesh says, “I don’t consciously try to bring in any specific style. I just allow the thought to flow and see what structure and shape it takes. However, I try to choose my words carefully as that could be easily misinterpreted especially in a world of fake news. I also try to bring in a rhythm using my vocabulary.” His crisp sense of humor clearly reflects in most of his poems but mostly the poems are like a touch of warmth that raises your heartbeat and turns you red. While all of his poems seem deep and dark they also end with a message. One of my favourites is the first poem called Love which was inspired by his friend Sajin.
If love is like a lonely walk in the rain, If love is that cure for all your pain, And if in love you have so much to gain, Then Why, Why does love go in vain.
Speaking about how you differentiate a poorly-written poem and a well written one, Ajeesh says, “I think the most important criteria is to tell the truth and it does take courage to do that. There must be elements of originality and creativity in it. Poems should be deep always with some explicit but a lot of implicit meaning to it. Then of course vocabulary, style and rhythm.” His advice to aspiring poets is to read as much as you can.