The poems in Deliverance, by Namrita seem Bachchan, ‘bathed in tears' - to borrow an epigraph from Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Rinsed with pain, the poems possess angular clarity and vision, as if the poet were gazing through the wound of this world at the beauty that eludes it.
Namrita – roughly the same age as her grandfather, Dr Harvanshrai Bachchan, was when he wrote Madhushala - is in explicit debt to him; a vein of the great poet runs deep in her work. "I love that my life might echo his," she confides.
"I'm inspired by him. And the beauty of it is that I know I'd feel the same way had we not been related."
Heart to heart
As we stroll down Juhu beach, she asks of my grandfather's influence on my work. My grandfather, Dr Arvind Vasavada, a penniless runaway who married his student, learned dream analysis under Dr Carl Jung.
<b1>As children, Dr Vasavada read our dreams, providing shape for the blurry narrative of sleep; and permission, tacitly, to take our subconscious life seriously. "To have an adult respect your imagination, well, that's rehearsal for writing," I remark.
Namrita, alumni to both Parsons and Rhode Island School of Design, recently painted for Khushi, a charity that works with street children. The painting, "Two hearts, One love", had her family members, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan chipping into the process.
When I mention the implications of her surname, she's neither impressed with its tremor of ubiquity nor dismissive of its blessings.
"Of course I know there are benefits to having public recall," she admits. "And I do go out there and generate interest when I have something honest and deserving to offer the world. I'm not apologetic for my blessings.. for my surname. But I don't abuse them either."
How was it like to paint with family? "Abhishek and Aishwarya cooperated no-questions-asked so it was actually less of a collaboration and more a dictatorship," she laughs.
"I'm grateful for their enthusiasm, they made a sincere effort to grasp my mixed-media technique .. as the proceeds go to the underprivileged, it's allowed us each the opportunity to use our self-expression to a greater end." She speaks of Abhishek with intense affection and loyalty. "Have you ever collaborated on a work of art with another person?" she asks me.
Love.. and anguish
"Writing a novel is a communal act," I respond." A book bears the name of one person but it is, in fact, a constellation of countless imaginations. No one creates out of vacuum, although you turn to it for renewal. But tell me.. why are your poems so melancholic?"
"The impact of heartbreak needn't be debilitating," she says hesitantly "To be perfectly blunt, for me Deliverance was a response to love's abandonment making the abandonment almost worth it." The intelligence of anguish grips her voice; then, lets go. Whatever darkness informed her poems now belongs securely to the past.
The future, on the other hand, lends itself to redemption: she has a show coming up in London; illustrations for a special edition of Madhushala are on the anvil; international curators are calling her about projects that could make Namrita a household name.
"This is like being home!" she says of Juhu beach. Behind us, the sun fades, casting saffron on an aluminum sky.