Reviewed by Pankajbala R Patel

THERE’S poetry writing in English galore in India but few take to haiku writing! Haiku writing is undoubtedly poetic in spirit but it’s a Japanese form which sums up observations and perceptions with timeless, gentle insight…mostly. Yet they can also pack a punch. Veteran Mumbai cinema journalist and author, the Mumbai-based Dinesh Raheja, has now taken to writing haiku poetry with his recently published `101 Haiku’ (Om Books International, paperback, `150).

Not a bad idea if you like to be amused, your senses teased with instant gratification! Haiku is basically three-liners which say something profoundly…can be gentle and lyrical, heartwarming, stir the funny bone. Dinesh says this is his first attempt at haiku writing, never mind that, there’s always a first time, and actor Vidya Balan in her foreword to the collection of haiku says, “When words make you see an image or feel an emotion or a passion, they are priceless!” She confesses to being intimated by poetry but after reading Dinesh Raheja’s haiku collection she was charmed by their “alluring simplicity”…for example, she found particularly evocative “goldfish in a bowl/opened a Facebook account/she loves the spotlight” and several more…

As she notes the haiku manner of writing poetry comes originally from Japan, “I am very keen to visit Japan, the land of haiku. The pink and yellow cherry blossoms, chopsticks, the elegant Japanese women geishas with their small feet and small steps, kimonos, origami – all epitomize daintiness and minimalism. Not surprisingly, even their Haiku say as much in so little – just 17 syllables in all.” To that all one may say is hurry up and visit Japan, a lot has changed and there is another perspective to kimonos and the daintiness of women’s feet!

There is much to learn and admire about the Japanese soul though and haiku is just one literary form of expression….reading Dinesh Raheja’s `101 Haiku’ one realizes how haiku may take Indian images too: In the series titled God….

”the sound of sweet love/drowned by the fanatics’ cries…/play your flute, Krishna” and “benign elephant God/rides a mouse from house to house/much traffic, he flies”.

This haiku writer has to be nature’s child, in Celestial Bodies series….

the new moon withdraws

when the cloud caresses its cheek:

wait, the night is young

the moon’s a playboy –

a harem of twinkling stars

at his beck and call

flushed red and tired

sun changes shifts with the moon…

sea bed awaits him

aah, no pot of gold

at the end of the rainbow…

I have the rainbow

the sun blushes red –

his rendezvous with the moon

has star witnesses

under the sun’s caress

the blushing leaves dance with joy –

betrayal at dusk

If you want to take to writing haiku for the pleasure of it, check out Dinesh Raheja’s tributary offering. It can make for an unusual and novel gift this Deepavali coming up…for friends and family! The black and white illustrations compete with the haiku in being especially  exquisite, quite the perfect illustrations for a collection of this genre of poetry.


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