"With deep wisdom, Reijul tells us that evil is not necessarily in your face or obvious – it is subtle, unctuous, insidious," writes Sonali Bhatia.
It’s difficult to review a book like Emerald Blades. Where does one even begin to describe the emotions it evokes, the insights it gives and the ‘aha’ moments that leave one slightly breathless? Is it a journey, is it a roller coaster ride, is it a magic carpet that takes you deep within yourself? Maybe it’s all of these, or none.
Emerald Blades is a collection of poems by Reijul Sachdev. Reijul, in his twenties, a student of Computer Science in Bangalore, also works part-time on research for the Human Dynamics and Changing Places groups at the MIT Media Lab. He is an avid debater and has won many debates, including TIMES NOW's 'I Lead India' televised debate. He is fond of reading, writing poetry and trekking. He loves the outdoors and adores nature's bounty. Being a juvenile diabetic and borderline schizophrenic, he finds an outlet for his emotions through his poetry.
So what are some of the insights we gain from this young man, mature far beyond his years? Here’s an example:
Evil might wear many masks, and each a different one
But in the end, like original sin, evil’s face is one.
Evil’s true face is far more subtle,
It’s something you see every day
the flash of guilty uncertainty
in the man who says that it’s okay.
With deep wisdom, Reijul tells us that evil is not necessarily in your face or obvious – it is subtle, unctuous, insidious. The fanatic, the bigot, the murderer, the rapist – are all fighting their own battles, against a larger, less obvious force that is evil.
From a huge concept like evil – to something as seemingly mundane as a broken glass – all find their way into this collection. We see the glass fall, slowly, and then shatter. And then, we see the pieces grow rebellious. They do not fit together again, they do not want to be whole. Each piece has its own dreams now. And we smile at the beauty in the tragedy. The broken pieces, the flashes of light, the individuality of the fragment … “They will continue to shatter, Into shards of nothingness and dust which cannot really matter …”
A lot of Reijul’s poems seem to deal with the obvious, the visible, versus the unseen and intangible. In Epitaph in Death, he gives us the vivid image of a battlefield, with everyone dead but one – and struggles with whether the one must die, too, even though unseen, unnoticed by the others. “What makes you go forth to your death, when you don’t want to die? … Why not just turn and walk away, leave your destiny unclaimed, who would know or miss you here, all critics dead and maimed? … We do not care for happy lives, but for immortality’s song.”
The imagery is powerful and the thoughts are deep. In ‘Ebony and Ivory’, image and introspection come together powerfully. The pictures merge flawlessly with the sentiment expressed. “A life of waking shadow, ‘twixt vapors which conceal, glimpsed through a veil of Romantics, and the ethereal. It’s radiance and power can never really warm but something in its magic has the power to transform.”
Reijul’s collection of poems can be summed up in the words of his mother, Nandini: “When I read his poems, I reacted strongly. I’ve always loved mystery novels. I read Emerald Blades and I fell in love with the mystery and magic in his poems. Some of the poems ambushed me. I found illumination and ambiguity, precision and passion, beauty and truth. The enchantment took me unawares.”
You’ll find yourself taken unawares, too, with this slim volume that truly goes deep.
Book: Emerald Blades
Poet: Reijul Sachdev
Sonali Bhatia is a Bengaluru based writer and storyteller.