Feminist Marathi poetry of Vishnu Wagh by NANDKUMAR KAMAT
This century would belong to the new breed of writers and poets from the masses of Goa who could not have opportunity to showcase their talent under the colonial regime and the exploitative class structure. Modern education, democratization of institutions and expansion of equitable platforms for creative appreciation have fertilised the new creativity. This would now explode with new forms, new experiments, novel idioms, styles and ex-pressions. When a genius writer like Pundalik Narayan Naik makes a statement- amchyo kitalyoshoch piligyo monyanich gelyo (Our forefathers died silently without ever expressing themselves) it becomes a message and a manifesto for the new writers. Nothing would stop them now. They are bound to take Goas Marathi and Konkani literature to new heights. Popular playwright, poet and artist Vishnu Surya Wagh and Konkani poet Nilaba Khandekar both have their roots in Dongri village in Tiswadi. Both are young ambassadors of Goas modern poetry. Nilaba Khandekar is much ahead of his time in Agni and Black his two path-breaking Konkani poetry collections. After entertaining vast audiences in Goa and Maharashtra with his popular poems, Vishnu has just broken through the stereotype with his brand new Marathi poetry collection Bacchubhaichi wadi. This place is a real address near the red light area in Mumbai. When he sent me a copy, I was stunned by its high production value. Such books in Marathi are rarely designed and printed in Goa. This trend-setting poetry collection includes perhaps the first ever poem on Scarlet Keeling in any language. The 10 page long poem dear Scarlet depicts the dilemma of western tourists who land up in Goa in search of nirvana but often fail to understand and enjoy the real culture of Goa. Full of compassion for the British teenager, this poem also exposes the problems associated with the hedonistic lifestyle of the Europeans and their irresponsible parenting standards. Vishnu wishes at the end of the poem that Scarlet could be reborn as a Goan to experience Goa which she never cared to understand. Bacchubhaichi wadi is Vishnus ninth publication and fifth poetry collection. His five poetry collections have filled up the tremendous vacuum created after the death of poet laureate Bakibab Borkar and Shankar Ramani. Vishnu has been writing, painting, singing and directing plays since past 30 years. He was a very sensitive and creative child. Having born in a farmers family in the rustic setting of Dongri village, an estuarine island surrounded by vast Khazan lands and crisscrossing saline creeks of Cumbarjua canal Vishnus personality was moulded by his hard working parents. His poetry has absorbed the imagery from his childhood, boyhood and youth. He had seen the deep interest his artist father, a well-known director of Marathi dramas used to take in propagating noble and timeless cultural values. He has devoted several touching poems to his mother who succumbed to breast cancer at a relatively young age. Having seen a lot many personal tragedies and upheavals, Vishnu Wagh came out stronger after each of the ordeal. He burst on the Marathi literary firmament with his first poetry collection Zinzir Zinzir sanj. It is a kaleidoscopic collection of poems on nature, Goas cultural ethos, folklore and many other topics. However, Vishnu seems to have broken through the mould in his latest Bacchubhaichi wadi. The collection comprises longer poems. Most of these have powerful feminist statements. The autobiographical preface by the poet introduces to the readers a hitherto unknown facet of Vishnus sensitive and compassionate personality. The thirty feminist poems in the first part with the common caption- yes, I am that woman are unique in contemporary non-Dalit Marathi literature. Each poem is like a miniature bomb blast-revealing the naked reality of the womens world - their untold sufferings, the male perception of women as sexual commodities and above all the heaps of injustice that the female gender in India has been subjected to. These poems have no parallel in post liberation Goan Marathi poetry because a composite reading of all the 30 poems sends a strong cohesive, secular and compassionate message to the society-that real poetry needs to move beyond fickle romanticism and aesthetic escapism and empty debate on empowering the women. A woman farm labourer works more than her male counterpart but is still paid less because the wage structure is unfavorable to her. Vishnus poem raises the question of such economic injustice. There are thousands of households in rural Goa where the head of the family spends the hard earned money of the wife or daughters on alcohol and gambling. The women get beaten if they challenge this behavior. >From Vishnus pen emerges the dissected layers of pathos, the silent sufferings of women who are still crying for true equality and justice. But in his final poem in the first part the woman vows to rebel and become Kali, the destroying goddess. Vishnu signals a revolutionary change in future when the voices of women would not be easily suppressed. After a very dynamic first part-Bacchubhais wadi moves to the poems of darkness (andharachya kavita). These are personal impressions of the poet caught in a vortex of self-identity. Vishnu finds a novel and convincing ecofeminist interpretation for the popular legend of theogony of Lord Ganesh in maza Ganesh (my Ganesha) from the perspective of a rural woman. Although Bollywood films like Chandani Bar introduced the people to the stark reality of Mumbais nightlife, Vishnus poem Dance Bar vividly captures the hidden dimensions of this industry with all its urban and material nuances. The 23 poems in the last part of the collection are dedicated to the poets revealing impressions of Mumbais red light area. This part would come as a culture shock to the unsuspecting Marathi readers in Goa because this face of Mumbais underbelly has been unknown in urbanized Goa. These poems offer a hyperspatial window to a world virtually unknown to the civil society and having seen it from close quarters Vishnu has been successful in painting his impressions in dark, bold colours. He meets and listens to street singers-the young Ranno and the older Jahan-aara. When he patronises Ranno and attempts to dismiss Jahan-aara - she says - I may be old but the Ghazal never ages . Bacchubhais wadi would transform any sensitive and compassionate Goan reader in search of something novel, different and exceptional. Its sublime but rebellious poetry surpasses revolutionary tomes on feminism and touches our hearts. Vishnu has unburdened himself in this collection with all his creative and stylistic skills and therefore for years to come this collection would be seen as a modern and progressive benchmark for the blooming field of Goas enriching Marathi poetry. -- This message has been scanned for viruses and dangerous content by MailScanner, and is believed to be clean.