Guest column: Lend an ear to Nature’s symphony
Unwrapping a rustic envelop addressed to me, I came upon a white cardboard, nestled within which lay a white-jacketed book: bright as the daylight. The cover was embossed with a green rectangular image of a leaf glistening with beads of dew, like a necklace of peals, adding serenity and grace to the book.
The book, Patte, Patte Likhi Ibarat (A Message On Every Leaf), an episodic and illustrated collection intertwined with poetry and pictures, has been co-authored by eminent poet Gurbhajan Singh Gill and ace photographer Tej Partap Singh Sandhu. It echoes Nature’s beauty, bounty, secrets, sublimity, sensitivity, sensibilities and its relationships with humans, mirroring in some ways their emotions, and reflecting their deeds and spiritual needs.
Given the hurried pace of our lives, we often miss or ignore the bounties Nature has bestowed upon us. We are forever in pursuit of peace, harmony, happiness and prosperity. However, all these remain elusive, a mirage, because we do not know how to or where to find them. We stand blinded by life’s daily grind.
The poetry and snapshots in the book are a gentle reminder, a nudge that there is a beautiful world beyond materialistic wants. If it is so, the book provides enough cues to lead towards peace, harmony and happiness in life, matched, as if it were, by the whiteness of each page that radiates, signifies and amplifies Nature’s purity and simplicity. It is a palette of colours and couplets, which stirs and stimulates emotions and draws us to Nature.
Each page speaks out and stands out. Each page is different. It is difficult to decide whether to first look at the picture or to read the juxtaposed couplet. It is not just the leaves’ ibarat, it is the authors’ ibadat to God - the creator. The two have tried to read the lines (veins) of leaves, as one would do in palmistry!
All pictures are home-grown, literally, as Sandhu clicked them in his garden: the little world in an oyster that he nurtures and nurses. It is his tribute to the Divine. He seems to have felt, heard the rustle, the whispers, the sighs, and the smiles of the leaves - fresh, young, old, dying or dead; the flowers, the petals and the sepals. He seems to have followed the swaying branches’ shades, and shadows to capture their silence. Gurbhajan seems to have felt their impulse, pulse, anguish, and laughter and, in return, given voice to their feelings of silence, agony and ecstasy.
As one softly turns each page, lest one disturbs the tranquillity or leave smudge marks on the pages, one is drawn towards Nature, which is so close, yet we make it seem so far, so distant. Involuntarily, compulsively, one turns to look at the green surroundings, flower beds and plantations: ever smiling, ever beckoning!
In our daily run-of-the-mill lives, we miss the sky-kissing trees, the beauty and grace of the majestically swaying multi-shaded foliage in the geometrically-designed leaves of different contours: broad, slender, and conical; some with serrated edges. There are myriad flowers, a riot of colour, and, of course, edible and inedible fruits.
It is sheer beauty to see and observe old leaves leave the parent plants, new leaves sprout on bare branches, change colours, flutter in the wind, while the rays of the rising or setting sun give these leaves rainbow hues.
Just as blossomed flowers and lush green leaves have their own beauty, so do the wilted, dry fallen flowers and leaves that blow away with every whiff of air. Gurbhajan has explicitly expressed this emotion in one of the couplets accompanying a picture of a wilted rose. The rose plant attributes its wilting to ‘termites’ in the soil. And, with sarcasm, he echoes rose’s agony: I am a habitat of Punjab! Sensitive, informed would know what has been conveyed, so succinctly!
One singular feature of the book, apart from its printing, is the use of the handwriting font. It looks as if Gurbhajan has written the lines himself! Each picture and couplet has a unique and matching colour combination as well. A reader or viewer will have a choice of her own to tick a picture or a couplet. The success of the two master craftsmen would be achieved even if one reader or viewer gets inspired while savouring just one of the 103 pages. Maybe, even a generation of readers will be inspired and motivated to pause, observe, think, preserve and protect Nature.
The book is a concert of nature, a symphony that reminds us how oblivious we are of its beauty and secrets!
(The writer is a veteran journalist and former information commissioner of Punjab)