Sometimes, in order to survive in this challenging world, some of us take refuge in words. These words, often in the form of poetry, help us heal as they give meaning to our emotions. Something similar to that is the journey of the young Goan poet, Mamata Verlekar, who started writing her personal experiences in her diary as a verse. Now, this diary has taken the shape of a book that consists of selected poems in Konkani titled, Dhag, which will be released on July 6, 2022 in Panjim.
Mamata wrote these poems from the year 2016 to 2020 to express her inner feelings. “When I lost my father (in January 2016), I found a vent through poems. I tried to direct the pain towards creativity, and poems worked for me like therapy. I was also upset with the socio-political scenario of the state and country. The best way to express my anguish was through poems,” says Mamata Verlekar, who is an assistant professor in Hindi at Goa University, Bambolim Plateau.
She further adds that her teachers at St Xavier College, Mapusa, and the members of Dhaee Aakhar Goa group (which she is also part of), motivated her to write, and further, publish her work.
ABOUT THE POEMS
This book of poetry, that has 54 poems in Konkani, speaks about various issues, right from personal anguish, to questioning patriarchy, age-old customs/beliefs, and also reflecting on the insensitive nature of our society. This is seen in poems like Dhag, Mhaka Shuddhir Yevpache Na, Tukay Fatayla, Navrat, to name a few.
Mamata wrote some of these poems during the lockdown period, in 2020. She states that this period was difficult for her, just as it was for all of us, and thus, she used poetry as a medium to speak about it. “I felt helpless at that time. Our very own people, who are meant to serve and provide facilities to us, became insensitive. I have tried to voice out such issues of that time in some of my poems. Because that was the only thing that I could do,” says Mamata. This is well-reflected in her poem titled Diwali-1, where she speaks about the unfortunate plight of migrant workers (who were forced to walk back home during the lockdown period in 2020) by comparing them to the row of busy ants in a most sensitive manner.
Mamata, who is well-versed in English and teaches Hindi at Goa University, chose her mother tongue, Konkani, to write her poems. For her, it was the most natural choice. “I think, I dream in Konkani, and there are vast possibilities in terms of words and interesting sounds that this language has is interesting,” elaborates Mamata, who has a long list of her favourite poets like Muktibodh, Uday Prakash, Rajesh Joshi, Anamika, in Hindi; Kishore Kadam in Marathi, Bakibab Borkar, Manoharrai Sardessai in Konkani; Faiz, Parveen Shakeer in Urdu; Pash and Amrita Pritam in Punjabi, and many more.
Mamata belongs to the young generation of poets, who like to share their poems on social media. She appreciates this medium, but is also aware of its drawbacks.
She says, “Everything depends on how you use social media. It does widen your scope as you can experiment with poetry and other art forms. There is also this popular trend of stand-up poetry. Also here, you don’t have to wait for a publisher to publish your work, you have your own little space, and you get immediate feedback from different types of readers. You can even connect to a literary community quite easily. But, it can also be very time consuming, addictive, and can also make you depressed if you do not get any likes or positive comments. I feel that we live in a real world, and literature is all about real people and their realities. There is no harm in using social media to express such realities. But, reading a poetry to an audience, looking straight in their eyes, as though you are talking to their core, is a different kind of joy altogether.”
On a concluding note, when asked why she titled her book, Dhag, (which means the heat emanating from fire), she says, “I feel that, nowadays, people and society, in general, have become insensitive or cold. So, I take heat from the poems.”
‘Dhag,’ a compilation of poems in Konkani, is published under the scheme of the Goa Konkani Akademy, and will be released at 4 pm on July 6, 2022 at the Directorate of Art and Culture, Patto, Panjim, by Anwesha Singbal, president of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal.
The event is open to the general public.