Amrik Singh Pooni: Modern Sensibilities
The mind registers myriads of impressions but only a few leave behind an indelible imprint. It is, however, not given to every poet to convey such impressions in a candid manner. Generally the poets hide their meanings behind a facade of obscure images and abstruse metaphors. Moreover in this age of mechanical existence, man has lost contact with his innerself. His responses are now conditioned and stereotyped. He is like a robot, always correct, never true. In such a situation, the emergence of a poet, who has the heart to talk about his true feelings, is nothing short of a phenomenon. Amrik Singh Pooni has no pretensions to being a poet, although he is one. His first collection of poems Kandialay Rah (Thorny Ways) has been welcomed both by the readers and the critics.
Amrik Singh Pooni was born at village Jindowal (Jalandhar) on October 9,1937. He took his postgraduate degree in political science in 1960 from Doaba College, Jalandhar. He was selected as DSP, Central Reserve Police in 1961. He was taken into Indian Administrative Service in 1962. During the last decade he has held various civil posts- SDO (Civil) Patti, ADC (Amritsar), DC (Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Faridkot), Principal Secretary Education and Chief Secretary, Punjab. The most admirable thing about this man of high culture is that he is no snob, rather he is a true friend of man, as God made him.
There has always been a dichotomy in the minds of the earlier poets whether to love, unmindful of worldly success, or to make life a success even at the cost of love. The man of today is, however, clear-headed on this issue. He has only one course to follow and that is of worldly success. He refuses to listen to the claims of his heart. But the heart has its own reasons. It cannot be always made to work in the subservience of intellect. At times the symphony of emotions becomes too sonorous to be ignored. In his poem Loh-Purkh (The Iron Man), Pooni has expressed the feelings of a man who wields immense power but is painfully conscious of his inner void, as he has imperceptibly drifted away from the world nearer to his heart's desire-Strange conventions
Do we observe
At the altar of false obligations.
High rank is our aim, our destination
Vapid files are our loves.
Forgetting the soft embraces of the beloved
We pressed to our heart a few lifeless sheets of paper.
Remained the longings of someone
Lost is the colour of desires
Withered are the faces of tender emotions
Gone is someone from our threshold
With unslaked eyes
Taking along our indifference, our apathy.
We are the men of New Age,
The products of machines,
Devoid of human aspirations.
Machines are we
Our loves are mechanical
Wedded are we to high posts.
In another poem Phuladi Dhanche de Wasi (The Inmates of the Steelfratne) the poet has expressed idential feelings but with a new depth and intensity. Here self-reproachment has given way to irony and sarcasm, directed towards vainglorious bureaucrats-
Iron-men, learned people,
Thoughtful like computers
Props of the vast skeleton of the state
Harbingers of the age of reconstruction
Dedicated (in their own way)
To the country
To the people
To their ownselves
To their self-created image of greatness.
Move about in an immutable circle
Biting each other, like snakes
With the fangs of official language
For the sake of illusory posts-Tie Contours of Punjabi Poetry 61
These inmates of the steelframe.
The men who matter in the official hierarchy seldom walk into the realm of literature with a view to expressing the inner working of their minds. They generally have a patronising attitude towards literature and whenever they take the pen in their hands, it is, more often than not, used to express the generally accepted ideas and sentiments. Their effort is always to conceal true feelings, rather than to reveal them. Here is a poet who has expressed his innermost thoughts and feelings unreservedly. Perhaps Pooni's magnum opus is his thought-provoking poem 'Robot'-
I just add, daily
A colourless, insipid page
To the film of my life.
How much loan is to be taken
And from whom ?
How much commission will accrue and from whom ?
What amount is to be spent
And how ?
All the day long
Mammon rules over the mind
Enveloped in many layers of diplomatic language
Come up, like orders, to me-
This person is to be appointed
If possible under the rules
That person is to be transferred
To view with sympathy
The file of that corrupt official.
All the day long
Sitting like a dot
In the Chakkarview (labyrinth)
I hear voices from all the sides
In many tones,
Obsequious and dictatorial.
In this cacophony
I hear not
My own voice.
In this wilderness of progress
The leaf-covered mire of 'duty'
Pulls me down and down every minute
Like the grasp of an Octopus.
And in a corner of the distant sky
Vanishing in the void
Dissolving in desolate silence
That sound, more like a shriek,
Is perhaps the echo of my daily dying
Pooni is a poet of modern sensibilities. He wants to comprehend the reality of life through intuitive perception. He is shocked to view desolation in the hearts of the residents of big, prosperous cities. He wonders if the material progress has robbed man of his humanity and has rendered him a heartless, pitiless, creature. Where will all this dehumanization lead to ?
Confined to his own Lakshman-Rekha,
A prisoner of self-imposed lonesomeness
Is feeling lost.
In this city (shorn of fellow-feelings)
Sounds of wailing and of mirth
Emanate from the same house.
The big men,
Well-informed and ingenious,
Have taken shelter,
After donning the armour of high posts,
In the trenches of their solitude.
Not men but marble statues
In this city.
Was Corbusier Sceptical of The existence of Soul ? O