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Delhiwale: Family portrait of a published poet

Hindustan Times | ByMayank Austen Soofi
Jan 11, 2018 10:05 AM IST

Vidya Singh’s journey as a poet began years ago with a small writing journal gifted to her by her friend-turned-husband. It culminated with the publication of her collection of poems last year.

So many of us dream of becoming writers. Mostly it just remains a dream. But not in Vidya Singh’s case.

Vidya Singh, whose collection of poems was published last year.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)
Vidya Singh, whose collection of poems was published last year.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Last year, this 77-year-old poet became the author of Raabta — a collection of Hindi poems that she composed over a lifetime while performing the roles of a wife, mother and grandmother.

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The 50-page paperback has a sunset-soaked leafless tree on its cover. Curiously, no price is mentioned anywhere. Turns out it’s not for sale. “We, her children, got together to publish Mummy’s books,” explains Anita, her daughter.

These days the poet lives with Anita at her home in Ghaziabad. The family printed a hundred copies. Half of them were given away at a wedding, and the rest are being handed over to select friends. “I knew some of Mummy’s poems by heart since my childhood... the rest we took from her diary,” Anita tells us, explaining how she put all the poems together. Her mother is quietly listening to our conversation, smiling at the mention of her book.

Usually a book’s final pages are devoted to its author’s acknowledgement. But in Ms Singh’s book, they are filled with loving words from her relatives and friends spread across India, UK and the US.

Ms Singh dedicated the book to a friend who, she says, gifted a journal to her many years ago after he discovered her passion for poetry. That man was her husband, Arun, “who made me feel me”.

Ms Singh shares a poem with us.

Old Generation-New Generation (On Monty’s birthday)

We are a dhaba of chole-kulche, you a bowl of fast-food
We are the oil of mustard-emblica, you are Keo Karpin cool

We are Maruti Standard, you are Baleno’s engine
We are 12-inch portable, you home theatre elegant

We are the pat of dholak- tabla, you are the keys of a synthesizer
We are Bismillah’s shehnai, you are Madonna pitch-high

We are postcard and envelope, you are the web of WiFi
We are the last December, you are a new calendar

We are a current account at post office, you are an ATM card
We are the frail village lane, you are the highway hard

We are the soft fragrance of attar, you are the strawberry perfume
We are the table of thirteen, you are WhatsApps umpteen

We are the degree of BA first year, you are a PGDM course
We are the ride of mule and pony, you are the horse of race course

We are Krishidarshan of DD, you are Roadies of MTv
We are the soap of Hum Log, you are the series of DID

We take pride in family and you make us all proud
In this Singh family, my son, you are the strongest voice

(Translated from Hindi by Pooja Sharma)

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