There are some seeds in my body.
One lies in my heart.
Maturing to love.
One lies in my head.
Maturing to learn.
The other two lie in my hands.
Maturing to help.
Perhaps these lines sum up the attitude of any teenager. But Prashasti Aryal’s prose is special. She is sharp. She is insightful. She contemplates the moon from her study table at nights when everybody else sleeps. And she talks to it. And words flow down to her. Sometimes the moon changes color and becomes red.
Red Moon is a collection of Prashasti’s thoughts and sentiments expressed in poems. But poems don’t tell you what prompted those musings. You can only guess. If you know the person, you can guess better. Sometimes the seed of that emotion has been sown years—or decades—ago. So you need to know the person for long.
But what if you have a book of poems in your hands and you don’t know the person? Learn about the poet’s life first? Not always possible. Perhaps the best way is to empty your mind, and read the poems with as much concentration and openness as possible. Contemplate without straining yourself. What they reveal to you is your understanding of poetry. It gives you a chance to reflect on the feelings or emotions they generate, and to connect you with your own past or imagined experience.
But we aren’t satisfied with that. We still want to know the person who wrote it. Our poet, Prashasti, is a 17-year-old science student who has just finished her higher secondary. Her hobbies are writing, reading, painting, music—all the creative stuff. And she has never been in a relationship. Perhaps that gives the reader some context. One’s age and gender often determine how the mind works.
Biological, social, and peer factors shape thoughts. Prashasti wrote the poems during her 10th and 11th grades—a phase of life when things seem to be in a constant flux. She lets her mind wander to discover the sublime. And she wanders with thoughts that are as powerful as swords.
Prashasti’s age can be deceptive. You can’t tell her poems apart from any old hand in the craft. They are rich. They are expressive. But they are also mostly sad and melancholic. Prashasti acknowledges that she is a pessimist and an introvert. In the back cover, she tells the readers that the book is a “piece of my darkness,” and in the introductory note, she cautions her readers that they are about to get into her dangerous mind. But that, too, is deceptive. In the poems, a subtle, beautiful, and mature mind reveals itself.
The poems are diverse. Some are long, some short. Some tell stories, some are just quotes. Some are fit for textbook poetry, some are random thoughts spread out one word per line. They are arranged into four groups, each preceded by a letter Prashasti has written to ‘life’. These are letters of despair and confusion. She tells life that she is “curled up in a corner crying and scared,” and that she is “confused and insecure.” But she endures. And ‘life’ listens. It says it loves her silently, and tells her it is with her always: in the moonlight, in the stars. It reminds her that she was born to fight, and that the difficult phases shall pass. She lets the flux pass through her poems.
‘Life’ tells her to confide in someone. And she does so: in her moon. It knows about her, like no one else does. It meets her in the night when loneliness prevails. And she wonders: How can the moon be so bright even amidst all the darkness?
Publisher: Sangri-La Books
Price: Rs 295