`Oh, Mizoram, A Collection of Poems’ by P S Sreedharan Pillai, Goa Raj Bhavan Publication (2023)

Dr P S Sreedharan Pillai has many feathers in his cap of achievements … he is a successful lawyer, politician, orator, prolific writer, philanthropist and sophisticated communicator, all this plus he is a sensitive poet.

By Tara Narayan

GOVERNOR PS Sreedharan Pillai has a poetic soul. We were reading some of his poetry in the recently out collection titled “Oh, Mizoram, A Collection of Poems” which is a nicely brought out hardcover, printed and published by the Raj Bhavan, this collection was first published in 2020. Despite the political privileges blessing the governor’s office it is rarely find a governor who goes out of his way to understand the people of a place.
As the title of this poetry collections says Governor Pillai has done as stint as governor of one our most beautiful north-eastern states, that is Mizoram. The state clearly inspired him by its beauty and hard-working people…here is a well-presented poetry collection with an interesting Foreword by C Radhakrishnan and a Prologue by Prof Alfredo Pasolino whom the governor probably counts amongst his dear friends. G Sreedharan has also written an essay to go with “Oh, Mizoram” and this is a comprehensive introduction to PS Sreedharan Pillai as an author of no mean literary output, with a body of work adding up to 120 and more and “many in the pipeline demonstrates his unalloyed passion for writing and giving expression to this thoughts and experiences. Often people wonder how a man having so hectic a schedule can find time for pursuing his literary interests…”
The 37 poems in this collection testify to the Governor Pillai’s nationalistic sentiments (and he has been a most devoted BJP politician in the past based in his home state of Kerala) from poem titled “21 Century” which concludes, “Follow the slogan Nation First and Self Next’/Make sure that this century is that of India”….and in title poem “Oh Mizoram”: “Oh, Mizoram, how beautiful you are!/How majestically you caress my heart!/Once you were at the end of the rainbow/And now you are close in my heart’s depth,/My half-broken gloomy heart of the past/Strangled by the singeing tentacles of realities…” His sojourn in Mizoram hints that the state healed whatever was bothering this poet’s soul perhaps! In “Corona” he is conscious of “the enemy waiting in ambush/Black trees are seen smiling” and so on, a treat of a poem expressing concern about the people who need to be victorious. Here’s a wide range of issues touching the poet-politician’s consciousness and conscience. The poet is well educated, well-read, sentimental and aware of life’s bitter experiences, the poet in him lives to spin out gossamer fine images of the life and the world at large which may be kind to him but not to others with whom he clearly sympathises and wants to do something about…Goans now know that Governor Sreedharan Pillai is an unusual Samaritan and has stretched himself to do good for Goa and all that troubles it, soothing ruffled feathers here and there. A nature-lover he is also concerned about the deteriorating environment (read poems “Profane Not the Sacred Groves,” “Raj Bhavan Garden”). We cannot do better than reproduce some of poet-writer-politician PS Sreedharan Pillai poems (some which we personally like!) from his collectionOh, Mizoram’:

An inspiration you were always to me
Like a crystal flame in darkness.
I never felt an outsider
But dissolved into your being
Never feeling I had enough.
The thought that one day the inevitable parting
Would happen never dawned in my mind.
Won’t the chord that fastened the bond
Tie up the links of love together?
Lost in watching the waves I forgot
To realize the depth.

Did the mind go astray
While the heart danced in revelry
Beating the drum of joy?
What was aspired for always was
Vital communion with the eternity in you.
The bell tolls warning it is time for parting.
Why does the mind whisper no, never?
Oh! Put out the lamp in the mind.
Lest it should die off for want of oil.
Let us remember the period that glowed brilliantly
And placed the burning wick next to the tomb.

The mango sapling, I had planted
Flowered for the first time
Home-grown mangoes emerged
In cluster basking in the evening sun
Announced their love ripe and aromatic.

As I look through the window
I saw the tree clad in ripe yellow.
But as I looked back at my insulin shot
I had to close the window with a broken-heart.
I knew, you were emanating your sweet fragrance
Desiring my affectionate approbation!

I felt the stab of sorrow for resisting your savour
Wait a minute, I am coming to take you home!
The disease shall not be any sorrow;
I know, sorrow is the disease!

Can’t figure out why my little heart,
That once longed for the gentle caress of the Sea,
But now, it’s mere mention,
Makes my bones shudder,
Forces me to run for cover.

The sea ceased to be a child’s play long before,
It isn’t anymore a soothing sight of sandy expanse,
Or a swelling source of water as in the days of yore.
But an unkind smouldering fire.

Cannon balls of death,
Pounds the safety walls,
Lurking dangers around,
Fierce abound everywhere….

My mind filled with riddles up to the brim,
To seek their answers from the Sea
Tell me, Mother Sea!
Kindly, all those tales.

The fireball triggered from the ship,
Torn to pieces my heart’s core,
My life writhing in pain
Still, why this nonchalance, Mother?

Why am I alive?
What’s the meaning of my life?
I did ask the great minds of the past;
Nietzsche, it had no meaning.
Freud, it was an illusion.
For Maslow, it was self-actualisation.
For Frankl, it was the search for meaning.
I asked my conscience and it replied:
“When you shun narcissism like a saint;
When you smile in sorrow like a soldier;
When you spread light for others like a firefly;
You will know why you came here
And what it all means!”

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