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The poetry of Varun Gandhi

If Varun Gandhi's poetry is indeed a reflection of his state of mind at the time, it's difficult not to feel a twinge of sympathy for that introverted young man and the situation he finds himself in today

india Updated: Apr 09, 2009 16:43 IST

Varun Gandhi seems to have hidden his poetry well. I visited a couple of bookshops last weekend, looking for his 2000 volume titled The Otherness of Self, but I didn't find it. (Which seems to be a major miscalculation by its publisher, Rupa & Co. In its place, I would have immediately trotted out all the unsold warehouse copies of the book, and possibly even marked them up by another Rs150. I'm sure they would have flown off the shelves.)

But the Internet, I'm convinced now, is all encompassing. In an old, archived issue of Biblio, I found this extract:

Sometimes I wished I lived alone

and no one came by

It would be nice

to breathe alone

All my thoughts in solitude

and then it seems like being all alone

is like being in a crowd

my thoughts trapped in confusion

Like a kite in the sky

Imagine being caught in the sky...

The first thing that struck me was the uncharitable thought that his wish to live alone, with few people coming by, seems to have come largely true since he was moved into prison. The second was that the poem seemed terribly unoriginal. "Kite in the sky" imagery? How old is that?!

But then I looked back over his life, and I found that it was in the summer of 1999 -- the year before this book was published -- that his mother, Maneka, began introducing him to the world of Indian politics, taking him along to rallies and meetings in Pilibhit.

Was this poem written as a response to that baptism? It's difficult to say for certain, of course, without asking him directly. But profiles of Varun Gandhi, written since his arrest a couple of weeks ago, have tended to describe him as a shy youth, the type who might, very naturally, yearn to "breathe alone" when plunged into the unending ruckus of Indian politics. If the poem is indeed a reflection of his state of mind at the time, it's difficult not to feel a twinge of sympathy for that introverted young man and the situation he finds himself in today.