I'll steer clear of words like 'love', 'adore', 'admire', 'absolutely crazy about'. I am neither a fanatic nor an authority on it. I just read poetry and occasionally run into words that could have been put together only by some occult literary magic and nothing less.
I owe 'Kadamb ka ped', 'Basanti hava' and 'Krishna ki chetawani' to the humble NCERT books. Members of my typical Hindi-speaking, CBSE-boarding, Uttar-Pradesh-hailing family, often broke into renditions of boistrously rhythmic and fiercely chaste Hindi poems. All it took was a power cut, my naniji's courtyard and post-dinner idling for someone to proclaim -
"Sinhasan hil uthey raajvanshon ney bhrikuti tani thi,
Boodhay Bharat mein aayee phir se nayi jawani thi
Gumee huee azadi ki keemat sabney pehchani thi
Door phirangi ko karney ki sab ney man mein thani thi
Chamak uthi san sattavan mein woh talwar purani thi
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi..."
The ones more inclined to situational drama would quote when the occasion demanded -
"Woh khoon kaho kis matlab ka, jisme ubaal ka naam nahi,
Woh khoon kaho kis matlab ka, aa sake desh ke kaam nahi,
Woh khoon kaho kis matlab ka, jisme jeevan na ravaani hai.
Jo parvash ho kar behtaa hai, woh khoon nahi woh paani hai!"
Untill I had read his name in my Hindi text book, I thought Ramdhari Singh Dinkar was a family friend because everyone was quoting him. After a scuffle with my cousin, I chose to be the bigger person and said I had forgiven him. The 8-year old brat, who I thought was capable of only bullying and mathematics replied-
"Shama shobhti uss bhujang ko, jiske paas garal ho
Uska kya jo dant-heen vish-heen vineet saral ho..."
My Naniji is the only one whose tastes went beyond the CBSE text books, pole vaulting the immediate allure of veer ras and reached out to the elegance of-
"Vardant ki pangati kunj kali, adhara dhara pallava kholan ki
Chapala chamake ghan beech chavi, chavi motin mala amolan ki..."
From the recesses of her infinite memory, Naniji brings out poems like artifacts long forgotten. When she quotes a doha by Kabir, one would think she and Kabir are sharing an inside joke. Infact they are; for more often than not, the person at whom the quip is directed has no clue what it means. Owing to her whole hearted involvement in poetry, Naniji is forbidden from reading the likes of Sudama Charit. This is because by the time she reaches the lines "Dekhi Sudama ki deen dasha, karuna kari ke karunanidhi roye...", she too is weeping; struck either by the meaning or the alliteration in those lines!
Somewhere down the line, I became the pariah in my family; the one to digress not only from Veer Ras, but from Hindi itself. In times when trashy SMS forwards and downmarket orkut updates of the jilted lovers pass off as Urdu poetry, I was trying to quote Zafar and Zauq. Clearly, no one was impressed. In times of instant gratification and adrenaline pumped entertainment, who would sit down to decipher Ghalib? How painful it is to read something as profound as - "Qayamat hai ki hove muddai ka humsafar Ghalib, woh kaafir jo khuda ko bhi na saunpa jaaye hai mujhse" - and not have anyone to share it with?
In the face of such desperation, the only outlet then is to write. I can't write poetry myself. Prose maybe. Poetry not. It is not for the want of trying. Oh sure I tried! With results like "The lion so fierce, it's claws can pierce." Many a poets have turned in their graves when I have put pen to paper and begun to express my deep thoughts in what aspires to be the third cousin of poetry, twice removed. This is then the blogpost of an avid reader of poetry, who has no one to pass it on to and must therefore subject her blog to it.