PARVIN SHERE : AESTHETICS OF ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS

Prof. Hameed Khan

                                                                                    
 
 Radically changing global scenario has drastically altered the notions of life and the entire gamut of the disciplines associated with it. Literature, especially poetry, being a highly sensitive genre, could not have remained unaffected. Urdu poetry, like all the literatures written in English and indigenous Indian languages, has kept its pace with the pressures of times---misinterpreting or misreading of it notwithstanding. It has, very subtly and elementally, assimilated and accentuated  the recently emerging  linguistic and literary ethos in terms of  the modes of perception and presentation. Urdu poetry has a rich tradition adorned with oriental philosophies, metaphysical depth and delicacies, socio-cultural complexities and linguistic niceties. Second half of the earlier century brought in the unprecedented advancement in the field of science, technology, politics,  intellectual inquiries and cultural studies  that had a direct bearing on the creative consciousness all over the globe. Unprecedented migration of the masses and creative writers to the West has also given a sharp turn to the very idea of literary concerns and commitment. It has, in fact, added a new dimension to what is now called literary productions. Parvin Shere's poetry is an excellent synthesis of the tradition and the current internationalism which invariably seems to be the dominant concern of the immigrant writers.  
 
 Parvin Shere's poetic concerns and thematic preoccupation, however, needs to be understood in terms of simultaneity of the emotional translucence and intellectual intensity that determine the tone and texture of  her poetry and directions of her ideology. Her intellectualism and ideological stance, it should be noted here, cannot and should not be perceived in the Western political, polemical, theoretical or merely academic context. Her new culture, certainly, has sensitized her creative consciousness and sharpened her analytical and critical acumen, that many a time attributes subtlety and   pungency to the balanced but highly devastating ironic phraseology of her poetic structures.
 
 Like any other  competent diasporic discourse, Parvin's poetry embodies a bitter critique of the male dominated society. Her  poems like,"Mirage"(Sarab) and "Disposable" represent her emotional and intellectual response to the woman's predicament in the suppressive patriarchal system. These two poems betray two different dimensions of Parvin's poetic reactions against the callous sexist society that resembles across the borders and nations. The very title "Disposable" is highly suggestive of the Western cultural reality that exemplifies the constitution of the western disposition and it also effectively communicates the  nature and texture of human relationship in  a culture where romance with consumption reigns supreme. The poem also makes a sarcastic statement on the culture that has reduced woman to the trivial position of  a commodity; she is bought, used, abused and discarded :
 
 Exquisite...
 Sighting in a show case
 He bought it and brought it home
 Filling it up
 
 ..
 He threw in the dustbin
 Then left to get another one.
 
 (Disposable)
 
 "Mirage" offers another dimension of Parvin's poetic vision. It reveals the intrigues of the  cultural  institutions shrewdly engineered by the  exploitative male society to perpetuate subservient female psyche. The dominant system makes a woman internalize the submissive positions in absolutely natural way.  Obliterating her own identity and independence,  she willingly/unwillingly gets subsumed into the roles designed by the male conspiracy. "Mirage" bemoans this helplessness:
 
 
 I am water, you a goblet.....
 ....
 
 Towards the end, however, the poem takes a turn that unequivocally registers Parvin's intellectual reaction:
 
 Even so,
 I am water,
 a spring source of life
 and you---------
 a rock,
 impervious to what life is!
 
 ("Mirage") trans. by: Hameed khan
 
 Parvin's poetry epitomizes the agony of a continually  tormented and tortured woman's soul:
 
 How many more tests and trials of my patience
 How many more skies are there over my head ?
 
 Layers after layers are incessantly revealed
 How many faces are there behind the faces?
 "Gazal",  trans. by: Hameed khan
 
 
 
 Is there an end to it ever! is  a perennial question that keep appearing in her poems like a refrain.
 
 
 
 "The Last Station" is an elegy on the decay and  death of  the human relationships. The values of love and  mutual trust, disinterestedness and selflessness are a rarity in the contemporary world that is ruthlessly governed by materialistic drives and ulterior motives. We are all a 'lonely crowd', lost in the labyrinth of narcissism. John Updike has rightly pointed out that contemporary man needs assurance, without mutual lies we all will be suspended like planets in the azure skies. "Octogenarians" (Darul Zoafa) dialogizes yet another dimension of the rotting human concerns. The poem portrays the hear-shattering reality of the helplessness of the old people who are mercilessly abandoned by those who had been the pivot of their life. John Updike's first novel The Poorhouse Fair seriously addresses itself to these issues. The thematic canvas of this novel, however, is wider as he also takes into fictional account the larger issues of "social homogenization and loss of faith". Parvin's other poems like "The Coffin" (Tabut), "Helplessness" (Bebasi), "No Exit" (Sabhi Raste Moattal Hain), "Dilemma" (Kashmash), A Beautiful Dream-like House" ( Khubsurat Khwab sa Ghar) are exquisite subjective expressions of the irresoluble tensions between the worlds within and outside. 
  
 
  Contemporary woman's plight in the male dominated world is doubly worsened. Parvin Shere effectively employs the metaphor of train and journey motif. Everyday, right from morn  a woman is continually shocked and shattered, dejected and disillusioned. By the end of the journey the train stands against the gloomy landscape tragically deserted and desolated :
 
 left alone,
 my wet eyes,
 keep trying to locate---
 from each and every  window,
 all  human relations
 lost in the thick mists of time.
 
 ("Last Station") trans. by: Hameed khan
 
 
 
   Parvin's scathing criticism of the gender-biased society, nevertheless, is not a projection or a manifestation of the radical feminist ideology. Because feminist ideology, ipso facto, aims at  subverting the system perpetuated by patriarchy. In her indictment of the patriarchal designs Parvin   is, one with  her  contemporary Canadian women novelists and  poets like Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, Aritha Vanherk, Nicole Brossard , Daphne Marlette and many others. But it should also be carefully noted that she is noticeably different from them in terms of modes of perception and presentation and also in terms of linguistic and generic experimentations. Many of these Canadian poetes are constantly engaged in ideological discourses that are vehemently directed towards annihilation of the murderous male supremacy. Deliberate transcendence or transgression is the launching pads of their poetic subversive endeavours. Debunking male-oriented language is also one of the major preoccupations of these women writers. They are   often infuriated by the canon, the generic traits and their male association. Sexual deviation and moral digression is yet another point. These radical  poets, however, have a well-defined logic and logistics for the subversion of the dominant system as well as  for reconstruction of woman's identity and her absolute independence. The alternative systems beyond the limits of family and morality, however, would not suit  Parvin's  refined oriental sensibility  and inherently feminine delicacy. Like many of the women poets from the sub-continent Parvin  retains the she essential and intrinsic  poetic idiom coupled with highly loaded phraseology assimilitated from her diasporic experiences in the world that is, ironically, looked upon as a haven of freedom and paradise of consumption. She is a solitary example who  enjoys dexterity in painting, music and poetry. Her poetry presents a harmonious blending of these three different disciplines of  the fine arts. Any sensitive reader can easily discern masterfully organized  shades and colours in her words and soothing sonority in her diction. Her painting, it can surely be construed, must be highly poetic. 
 
 
 Parvin  has been living in Canada for more that four decades  now; she has been in live contact with the practicing women writers. As an intellectual poet she has been closely following the directions the creative consciousness in Canada and in the west at large. But her poetry does not provide any evidence of being carried away by the inflated intellectual intricacy or triviality. Nor does her poetry betrays any desire to sell-off her own culture to the western readers, as many of the immigrant writers are accused of.  Her western exposure, on the contrary, has widened the horizon of her experiences.  Like her Canadian colleagues she sharply interrogates the male hierarchies.
 
  Rather than aiming at subversion, Parvin's  poetry betrays a  creative consciousness questing for lasting and enduring  human relationship. It is this relationship which, in its ultimate analysis, attributes dignity and integrity to human stature and makes his life meaningful, colourful and eventful.
 
 Her insatiable quest for enduring relationships does not confine itself  to the interpersonal or social extent. Imperialistic  drives in the cultural, intellectual, political and economic spheres on the international level also reveal disconcerting upheaval owing to an obvious  lack of sincerity and  authenticity in human relationships. Her poems like "Iraq", and "Outrage" (Andhera), are the moving portraits of the precarious conditions humanity is deplorably placed in. It immensely grieves Parvin's heart to think, ' what man has made of man'!
 
 Parvin's poetry, in fact, is a heart-rending scream of a bleeding heart and agonized mind. It is a perennial quest for order, authenticity and equilibrium conspicuously missing in the contemporary spheres of human relationships. And it this quest that determines the aesthetics of her poetic art.
 
 Dr. Hameed Khan is Professor at the Department of English,Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad(MS) INDIA.  A Ph.D. in American literature, Dr. Khan has one book, two text books and a number of research papers to his credit. His research papers, articles and reviews are published in various journals and magazines. He has also written preface/s and foreword/s to ten books in English, Urdu and Marathi. Dr. Khan is also known for his translations. His Urdu translations of Marathi short stories are published by Maharashtra State Urdu Academy, Mumbai. His English translations of interviews, Marathi and Urdu short stories
 Have appeared in the different issues of INDIAN LITERATURE, Sahitya Academy, New Delhi.