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Book Review : "The Moonsmith Gulzar" by Shailja Chandra

The Moonsmith Gulzar: orbiting the celebrated words
The Moonsmith Gulzar: orbiting the celebrated words by Shailja Chandra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always been fascinated by how accessible Gulzar's poetry seems to be and yet there are layers and layers to unravel before you can begin to understand it. Shailja Chandra's "The Moonsmith Gulzar" inspired me to initiate my own inquiry as a scholar of poetry.

The "simplicity" of language in Gulzar's nazms can be very deceptive. And one needs either years of focused study or a mentor to structure one's research. And just like Chandra looks at Gulzar as a mentor to decrypt the mysteries of the Cosmos, I look up to Chandra as my mentor to start my own inquiry into Gulzar's poetry.

The word "Moonsmith" would literally mean someone who creates new entities from the Moon. Or it may mean someone who shapes the Moon. So who is it? Who motivates the Moon to change its shape? That is the "Moonsmith". That is the Sun. That is Gulzar.

"The Moonsmith Gulzar" celebrates the philosopher poet as that source of light that illuminates whatever small percentage of truth we as human beings are exposed to. Of course there are still umbrae and black holes that would elude us, but Chandra recognizes Gulzar as the perceptive individual who is eons ahead of us in scratching the surfaces of these universal and eternal questions. As Chandra basks in the light of Gulzar's resolute journey as the seeker of the Truth, she does reflect some of that light toward her readers as well, in effect becoming the Moon for those us who are further behind in our quest.

"The Moonsmith Gulzar" makes it possible to relate to the various streams of thoughts that Gulzar's nazms drift in. Be it the many yearnings one associates with love or relationships, or his own enquiry into self-reflection and truth, or the eternal question of death, or the poet's relationship with the creative process, Chandra has searched through Gulzar's work and managed to pull out gems that not only allow us to follow Gulzar's quest for the Truth, but also to gain some perspective of our own.

The book culminates in a deeply moving and highly inspiring conversation between Gulzar and Chandra and through that conversation, the readers are allowed a glimpse into the person Gulzar, his mannerisms, his contemplative articulation, and his reflection on the human beings' relationships with "non-humans". Immensely enriching, this conversation is the perfect note to end this symphony of a book on.

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