Mushtaque B Barq

‘Lilies of the Valley’

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Lilies of the Valley is a bunch of lilies (fifty in number) carrying along Lily Swarn’s lilies that she had planted in her own literary garden. These lilies not only cart social issues but also spiritual messages. It seems that one enters into the garden of lily beds, each carrying a unique look with a placard holding the author like writing on the wall. These little beds at least for me serve two purposes. One that the fragrance of the growth as a writer and the second the style that Lily has employed. This unique style of prose writing where the author’s flexibility is aided with poetry has made  it a package of prose poetry wherein, the author sits on two literary seats to bedeck his/her garden, taking a handful of seeds from prose basket and a mug of grains from the poetry section. Lily Swarn has succeeded in festooning her garden in the best possible way. The way she has watered her lilies with traditional manure has created a glorious space for the budding writers to follow the suit.

Right from the Gossip to Gift Thyself! The Lilies of Lily are archetypal in mood and poignant in texture. The unification of this exclusive literary work carries a throbbing connotation that has fastened these fragile hooks of intricate ideas, the underlying pain of the bard has fixed the flotsam and jetsam of different states of mind. ‘Devil’s radio’ anyway serves a purpose not only to ponder over a scratch in the psyche of a person but it enables a reader to wonder about the human projections in terms of leisure. This astonishing exposition of wits at work has been carried on like in Smiles; one comes across to notice how on earth human consciousness can be sliced up on the table of analysis where a subtle comparison of ‘plastic faces’ is placed next to Joseph Addison’s fountain of warmth. Lily has moved ahead of time by breaking the conventional classroom nomenclature that makes a kid learn what he hardly understands by relating that hug is a smile with attributes like arms to communicate with ‘Beyond.’ This warmth in Dawn has instinctively emerged into a dazzling phase of the day ahead, where one is enough optimistic to allow the reverberations to nurse the needs of the seeker. The air of Shabad Kirtan seems whirling in ecstasy by appealing the morning breeze to soar the soul in the vast majestic Blue, a harmony that can only be felt by those who knows how to read the secret of the breeze in Raqs the author has brilliantly summarized the essence of dance thereby, connecting a reader with the world beyond corporal frames.

A similar narrative in Tears recounts the dance of ‘flow’ and the alchemy of the woman as witnessed by Lily is all copious with ‘salt’ that she sheds either in loneliness or in the public for being a soft target of male dominance. The chapter highlights the role of Statues of stone and their unwillingness to give space to this forlorn folk. In the same breath, the author in the following chapter Hypocrisy is exposing the ignorance of pre-occupied mind of mundanity couched on the coziest mattress of corrupt crossness that seems whirlpooling in the channels of garrote chest. The eternal tussle between what is anticipated and what is overlooked is taken on the coffee table, wherein, this tang of beans on one hand and the unrest in the globe on the other is debated. Coffee, Tea Or Me is an attention-grabbing deliberation where beverage and beauty amidst of tart sips are addressing an infinite audience who somewhere in this rat race seem entangled in the labyrinth of lassitude. A cheerless soul is considered sick for the lack of gratitude. What makes Diseases of the Soul a remarkable chapter is because it is woven around the cheerfulness wherein the author has gallantly geared up her loins by announcing: “germs kill slower than a sad soul.” And for those who stand in the reception of ‘God’s alphabets’ acknowledges the greenery around them. Trees carry an inspiration, verve and a commitment for those who are green at heart: “Kuchh rukh mainu putt lagde ne, kuchh rukh lagde maanvaan….. kuchh rukh mere baabbe vaakan, pattar taanvaan taanvaan.” (Some trees look like my son and other like my mother. Some are like my grandfather with a leaf here and there.)…. Shiv Kumar Batalvi.

In the lighter side of the thought process, Lily has reached up to our funny bones in The “F” Word by taking recourse from the scientific world to bring before us the other side of the coin to dip down the river of narration. The author in Moustaches has emerged as a research scholar for at least she has brought a whole canvas of moustaches before the reader by categorizing moustaches into thirteen major groups, like: Chevron, the Dali, the English, the Fu Manchu, the Handlebar, the Horseshoe, The Lampshade and the Painters brush, the Pencil, the Toothbrush, Pyramid, The Walrus, and Rajputana pride moustaches. After a sort of comic relief in the above chapter, we are yet again queued in the cord of concern in Fire -a central ingredient of our ‘being.’ The fire as we call it orange oracles have been relating us with its source from our first cry in the lap of a nurse to the last sigh at deathbed, the fire which wrecks the very bone of contention till in ashes it vanishes and like a phoenix after every dew shower gets rebirth only to advocate our hard earned experiences with the rest of the world to alight the long drawn veils of ignorance ruining their senses. Once these confused half written lines in the backyard of mind infuriate, one vividly slices his breastbone to confess ignorance as Rubinstein understands. And in our local dialect, we understand Lily’s Curiosity in these expressions: Hum ko kis ke gham ne maara, yeh kahaani phir sahi, kis ne toda dil hamaara, yeh kahaani phir sahi.  ( As for me – let’s talk about whose separation and grief killed me, some other time!)

The Hallowed Night is hitting hard against the shores of unaddressed pebbles when one in the lightest of the moods reveals the intense itching under the canopy of night for darkness allows our darker thoughts to follow the track of brilliantly burning starts like a child in her mother’s lap spares nothing and candidly opens his heart out to gain a favour. These dark nights are unveiled fairies in the campus of imaginations that guide us, lead us into the valley of lilies where our pale faces no more look dull but beautiful and harmonious with the guiltless delicacy of nature. Crediting Father Adam, Lily has wonderfully described Temptation as seductive enticement of forbidden fruit which is possibly hiding in human DNA. It is true that temptation is a trick that is enforced on us. One who is trapped in the snare of illusions may find himself badly attired. And the one who puts in a delicate gown of purity as Lily adds in Soul Wear may get a red carpet welcome from the lush green fields and the sky kissing mountain tops besides streams embroidered by fragile needles of care and the one who encloses his filthy form in mundane dress may not be able to peep into the well that traps his own space but disallows him to be credited by ‘narcissism’ which often generates a better insight to understand the needs of the soul. The author in It’s My Face! Seems like a grownup as contemporary Yogini to illustrate human face in terms of ‘identity card’ a phrase much needed in nowadays Adhar based identity, with a personal memory bank held by tufts of nerves and capillaries of the cast coupled with frowns of fissured humanity. What all a man need is solitude to peep down the Valley of Lilies to extract the nectar of wisdom. Noisy Desperation is one such exemplary work that negates the city cacophonies and lovingly invites a hopeful heart to bring about with serenity. This type of leap as Sufi’s describing ‘annihilation’ is well marked in  Path breakers. “Ho na ho yeh koi sach bolne waala hai Qateel, jis ke haathhon mein kalam, paaon mein zanjeerein hain…” (This one is definitely someone who speaks the truth O! Qateel, for he has a pen in his hand and chains on his feet.). Lily has time and again taken refuge in the balcony of a saint where from she is keeping a close watch like Siddhartha to monitor the Truth. Lily in the disguise of Siddhartha is roaming in the valley of Lilies to chanting “Naseeb saade likhe rabb ne kachi pencil naal” (Our destinies are written with a fragile pencil that breaks after writing).

The journey of this love and loyalty as Baba Bulle Shah, the Sufi saint puts, “Je tu rabb nu manauna, pehle yaar nu mana, rabb mann jaanda yaar nu manauna aukha hai….” (If you want to appease, God first appease your beloved. It’s easy for God to listen to you but it’s tough to please the one you love) Mulla maar na bolarriyaan, saanu apna yaar manaavan de… (Oh, holy man do not shout out loud. Let me cajole my beloved.) “Oh waat makke di kyon paave, jehde yaar nu takkeyaan hajj hove ….” (Why would he go on pilgrimage to Mecca when by merely looking at his beloved he would have performed Haj.) In Beyond Logic, the author seems to have explored the realms of time by moving into the world that is not bound by logic. Lily is hinting at us her justification that Bertrand Russell deliberates upon: ‘‘Common sense, however hard it tries, cannot avoid being surprised from time to time.” Lilies of the valley is not only a collection of reflections, but it also serves a reader to unfold the clandestine of nostalgic moments from which author has hardly detached herself. In Skip it, Lily has earnestly described: “I still remember the cackles of hysterical laughter and the rush of blood to the brain as one leaped and cavorted in the air, while two friends precariously though rhythmically swung the rope.” The Past is yet another example of how the author has time and again unfolded the days of yore. To Lily, the past is like a hump of a camel that makes his survival possible amongst the dead sand for it carts a lifeline for him to beat the challenges of shimmering heat waves. One carries mysterious experiences like a camel right on his back to move ahead in the life. Lily has successfully marched ahead in discovering a link between prehistoric findings and the requirement that are in vogue presently.

I hope these lilies shall carry Lily into the valleys where more lilies are waiting to fill her basket. Overall the collection has raised the edifice of this genre to a height where from others have to carry on. These brief essays are a peep into the society where from the author has picked the minutest details by holding a magnifying glass in her to put before the public whatever her sensitive eye has observed. The collection is wrapped in pain, but treated in the sweet laboratory of imaginations and reconstructed to suit the literary world. The spicy Punjabi has added grace to the bunch. Lily has been sincere enough not to discard her traditional imagery of which she considers herself an integral part. Her image house is strong for she has reconstructed few obsolete images and for this act of service she deserves admiration.

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