Book Review


Enchanting world of infants by Dr. K.L.Chowdhary  

Format: Paperback
(Edition: 2007)
Size: 9.0" X 5.8"
Pages: 240



Peacock Books, (India).



Language: English
ISBN 81-248-0154-1


Book Review by Prof. M L Raina

The anthology-ENCHANTING WORLD OF INFANTS, written by Mr. K. L Chowdhury is a superb work of creative art, capturing the very soul of childhood. It is in the shape of a narrative which is absorbing, exciting and evocative.

On piecing together, thematically, the poems in the anthology the first thing that comes to one's mind, among other things, is that the poet is blissfully immersed in a pool of profound ecstasy, while involving himself emotionally, intellectually and imaginatively in the panoramic world of infants, giving himself up, rapturously, to its charms and mysteries.

The poet holds mirror to the fascinating world of infants, parents and grand parents alike in the narrative. With his strong power of observation and a keen sense for detail, he describes, graphically and with precision, the chequered journey of child, right from its swinging in the 'merry-go-round' of the "dark chamber", inside of the mother, till its shipping on to the threshold of the bright world, wherefrom it continues to move on, slowly but surely, through the labyrinthine lanes and bylines of the world, marching merrily from one milestone to another, with the accompanying pranks,
tantrums, frowns, sulks, whims, playful moods, smiles, funny, actions, riotous imagination and an amazing ingenuity for inventiveness and creativity.

In the same way the poet's mirror reflects, faithfully, the nervous expectations and anxieties of the parents and grand parents who, in the first place, wait for long months, in anticipation of the new arrival and in the process, pray to God, implore the deities, and do penance, for the safe arrival of the babe, and finally when the appointed hour draws near, and the count down begins, their hearts begin to race, and breast are put on hold, with mumbled prayers on their trembling lips for the "angel from heaven" to touch the earth. Their expectations and tremulous excitement get heightened by the minute, nay by the second. This state of mind has been captured apt by in the following lines:

'And patiently we waited
hearts fluttering, breaths bated,
for the cosmic occurrence.
And again in the lines-
The constellations in the sky
speak of an angel on the way
showering light and love
for all of us below.

A couple of poems have been devoted to the parents and grandparents ecstatic outbursts, care and concern, joys and worries, and anxious moments they encounter while watching eagerly the physical and mental growth of their child, crossing important milestone in its forward journey.

The narrative, though subjective in tone, has an element of objectivity in that it has a universal appeal the experiences, reactions and emotions described by the writer evoke similar responses in the parents and grandparents at large. This is a case of what can be termed as objectified subjective.

The poet makes, convictionally, repeated references in the book, to an outstanding aspect of childhood. An infant, he believes, is informed by divine grace. This thought of infantine divinity expressed in phrases like 'angelic pose', in transcendence', a touch of eternity', 'divine munificence', and 'angle on the way', is reminiscent of Wordsworth’s lines from Immortality ode:-

"But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Mr. Chowdhury goes a step further and provides a suggestive testimony to the fact that a child is attended by guardian angels. It is common knowledge that at times during sound sleep, the serene and graceful face of a child undergoes changes expressive of fright anger, joy or sorrow. This swaying of moods is attributed to the presence of heavenly companions (fairies) of the child, who make it laugh and cry, first for the fun of it. This belief is beautifully conveyed in these lines-

"Heavy with sleep, the lids close,
…..a deep sigh,
a frown…….
An outcry….
A chuckle,
Playing with the fairies"…..

Overstatement or exaggeration is a tool which a poet uses to convey the bubbling intensity of his feelings and create empathy in the reader, which he can't do by using ordinary language. Mr. Chowdhury, in his right as a poet, takes advantage of what is called "poetic license", while making emotionally tinged overstatements, occasionally in the anthology to create the desired effect. His elevating an infant to the stature of a god is a fine example of this. The following lines suggest (through an overstatement) that a child, an embodiment of innocence and purity is Krishna incarnate-

"The lips purse and pout
and now opening wide
to reveal the cosmos inside"

One of the fascinating features of the narrative is fine blending of the elements of realism and fancy. What the parents or the grandparents feel or speak is in the nature of realism and what the child is believed to speak is simply a flight of fancy. In the poem "You are my Time" the poet makes the mother fancy that her child is talking to her about the eternal bond which time can't touch.

The poet has used his deft poetic skills, admirably to shape the content of the narrative in an aesthetically desired form. He has made a successfully use of some of the literary devices to make the narrative interesting and pleasurable. Among these, figures of speech should find a special mention here. Metaphors and smiles have been suitably used to convey deep spellings. For example, the poet has conveyed feelings for and attachment with the child metaphorically through the words of the mother in these lines-

You are the embodiment divine,
The god incarnate all mine,
Baby Krishna come to Yashoda

At another place the first cry of the babe has been aptly compared to the first 'primal sound' the 'big bang' both the 'cry' and the 'primal sound' are indicative of creation.

The poet has made use of a peculiar poetic embellishment namely 'sensuousness' to enhance the impact on the reader. The following lines have been written in Keatsean style-

The rose blushes
With the morning flush
The "Champa' and 'Chameli'
Litillate the senses for the day
And the raat-ki-rani
Tingles the nostrils….'

To conclude, ENCHANTING WORLD OF INFANTS is a stimulating work of poetic art, with excellent content and form. Its clarity of style and simplicity of direction are commendable. The narrative is marked by felicity of expression. Words come naturally to the writer. The metrical flow and varying length of lines of the verses are in tune with the mood expressed therein.

The book will surely find flavor with parents and grand parents of the day, as for them, the past stimulating experiences will come alive on the printed pages of the gripping narrative.
About the Author
*Dr. K L Chowdhury retired as a Professor of Medicine, Medical College, Srinagar. Presently he is the Director of a charitable institution, Shriya Bhatt Mission Hospital and Research Center, Durga Nagar, Jammu.

He is a physician and neurologist, a medical researcher, poet, social activist. He writes on diverse subjects ? medical, literary, social and political and has numerous research papers to his credit, his pioneering work being ?The Health Trauma in a Displaced Population? which was presented at national and international conferences.

He was declared Shehjar's ' Kashmiri Person of the year ' for 2007.
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