Frozen Smoulder by Waheeda Khan

maiden yet remarkable attempt by the poet…
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Book – Frozen Smoulders 

Author – Waheeda Khan 

Publisher – Cyberwit (2016)

Page Numbers – 89

Reviewed by – Alok Mishra

Buy the book: Amazon Link

Those who know me well know well that how well into the study of poems I am. Poetry books are the weakness that I have been suffering for long now. Nevertheless, I am too much a selective person when it comes to praise the books I have read. I read all but I praise very few and only those who are actually having that discerning quality. Recently, I was gifted a collection of poems by Waheeda Khan. Her collection is entitled Frozen Smoulders, in fact, a very poetic title. Waheeda has included forty-one of her poems in the collection and most of them wear remarkable titles. Titles like Juxtapose, Random Thoughts, The Tree Hollow and Namelessness are indeed intriguing and enticing. Let’s get deeper into her works.

Poetry collections can be read randomly, upside down or in orderly manner. It purely depends on the way you like it to be. I started reading the poems written by Waheeda in her book in a random manner. I reached towards the ending of the book and found the poem Juxtapose. And I must share what I found there:

“Strange are the ways of the world –
The breathing man strives hard to avoid dependence-
Of any kind.
The worldly soul strives harder not to be independent –
of the breathing body.”

The contents of the poem truly do justice with the title and I must say the lines have captured the very essence of the human life. I am not going into the debate of layers of the life. True; there is an apparent contradiction present in the way the world functions. Waheeda, in her poem, shows that to us. Moving randomly here and there in the pages of the book, I found her poem extolling the hardships of a mother. And who does not? Who does not pray mother and praise her; but the best, let me say, only poets can do. This is an ongoing process and almost each of the poets does realise at some point in the life that he or she is also born to a mother. The poet, in the book Frozen Smoulders, has taken the tradition ahead. And here are two lines from the poem that I would like to exhibit to my readers:

“You are the sap that nourishes us in the womb;
You are the voice that assures us of your selflessness;”

Nothing more to add to the wonders a mother has always kept in her bosom! Mother is the epitome of selflessness and sacrifice. Truly said someone that God created mother because God cannot be everywhere for us and a mother, surprisingly enough, can handles almost everything! Likewise, there are many poems in the collection which bring something new to my notice or at least the same thing through a new passage. I have already told that I read poems extensively and to me, most of them are becoming an example of Barthes’ ‘already written’. However, it depends on the artfulness of a poet that how can he or she present the same realities to the readers in a way that it tells even the same story in a new voice. Waheeda has done it many times in her collection. Have a look on these lines.

“The seconds turn to hours, hours to days
Days to months, months to years
Years to decades, decades to centuries
And for endless centuries –
Similar species have soulfully lived on.”

Once we accumulate the scantiest of the widespread knowledge in the universe and we just feel that now it’s time to leave the earth and settle with Nirvana in the heaven. However, poets tend to take two different sides on two sides of the universal line – Un-earthed and earthed. Waheeda seems on the side of the earthed poets and she requests the people to live their life to the fullest unlike Arnold who has almost often appealed to ‘escape’ the ‘sick’.

To conclude, I have truly enjoyed reading her poems. She is talented and will do better in her next attempts at publishing because a poet is the only professional who is never hurried in learning. The poems are worth read and worth praise. I will leave the readers of mine with two lines from Waheeda’s book that are no less than a couplet of Ghalib:

“I wonder why
Birds fly back to their nest”