Flights From My Terrace: an overview
When Dr. Santosh Bakaya’s most awaited book of essays entitled ‘Flights From My Terrace’ landed at my table, I simply stared at it. The book reminded me of my senior school and college days (1962-1967).
“Children/Students write down an essay on My cow/ My House/ Post Office/ My favorite leader etc. (to) If we want peace, be prepared for war/ India is a rich country inhabited by poor / Democracy etc. etc. I used to detest reading as well as writing abstracts. However it all changed at a much later stage when I read Khuswant Singh and Mulkraj Anand. I learnt that essays needed not be always abstract in nature. It had to have an entertaining value too.
Every essay in Dr, Santosh Bakay’s ‘Flight From My Terrace’ is a story creating myriad of emotions while maintaining interest of its reader in its core subject. An essay needs to give an insight into the mind of a writer too. Every essay in the book tells a story which makes a reader forget about the general nature of an essay and enjoy it as Bakaya wants readers to enjoy. Her exploits, her experiences, her insightful intellect, her experiments with ideas with which she was concerned, all of these have taken shape in a beauty called “Flight From My Terrace”. Dr. Bakaya is successful in creating a magical pot which churns out LIFE, both in livings & non-livings, in its all dimensions through her visual experiences, exploits, happenings and experiments combining all with sheer flights of her imagination from her terrace. Her sense of humor has a telling effect..
In Dr. Santosh Bakaya, a known figure in the world of contemporary english literature, I have found her more of a unique storyteller and less of an essayist for her inherent humorous and satirical takes, her erudite approach to pen down the human feelings in out of box words and her acumen to judge a situation while presenting us a platter with seriousness yet in comic, satirical, engaging tone. The crowning glory is that she judges yet is not judgmental. In fact she has experimented with her flair for writing english in such a mesmerizing way that all shades of life come to life for readers to glide over.
Small, fluffy clouds chased each other, bursting into a vibrant dance every now and then. Nature had turned into choreographer now perfectly conceptualizing…………Life was fun, the clouds seemed to say”/ A night unfolds.
“ Dad grunted and suddenly looked like a sinister cloud ready to unleash is wrath on everyone around”/A Pyrrhic Victory
“The merry scarecrows fails to send her into raptures of joy, the veiled women riding pillion failed to excite her, the goats and donkeys did not send her into a tizzy”/I am not a cannibal.
Malik in ‘Fear’ gives you creeps while going through his trauma of being a subject getting involved and witnessing riotous situation while dreaming of saving himself through a fantasy of Superman and the irony is boy is not sure to which side he should be./Fear
“The garbage box was bursting at the seams with garbage, not unlike the mind of a pervert which is spilling over with obscene thoughts.”/An the mountain moved.
These examples are only tips of icebergs. As every essay ( Am I fooling myself !) unfolds itself in the lap of its reader, it gives an insight into the thoughts of the writer working on a family (a teenager, a father), animals, garden, clouds, flowers, birds, memories, journeys, homecoming etc. in a language which at times allow one to marvel at astute description that present visual effects in words before a reader. “ Communication, The Wall , In the blink of an eye, Back Home and so many other compositions are reflective and expository flourishing with ideas, knowledge, behavioral insight and personal experiences. A reader will definitely wonder encountering the use of unheard of phrases, expressions making one getting engrossed in the plot bringing forth an element of curiosity associated with the subject.
Dr.Santosh Bakaya is a poet at heart and writer with extraordinary writing acumen. The poems in some of her writes like : Dream on, First Steps, Joint Ventures, The Spirit Triumphs etc enhance the charm of story telling rather than act as speed breakers.
As an Indian reader having brought up on Indian english rather than English english, I am inclined to feel essays should have an argument and counter argument which I am missing. She is, as I feel, the finest story teller rather than an essayist. Moreover since the book may also pass through general readers, such readers may not be able to grasp the complex sentences structured while going through a subject. Yes, a reader from literature can.
In short I must say Dr. Bakaya’s “Flight From My Terrace” presents us mainly nostalgic feelings accumulated through the years in word art par excellence. Every subject is brought to life and beautifully written about. The fact is that the whole ambience of the work lies in narrative expressions which is stunning at times. Wishing her many more such take offs.