A BOOK REVIEW OF KEKI N DARUWALLA`S THE SCARECROW AND THE GHOST

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REVIEW

THE SCARECROW AND THE GHOST; KEKI N DARUWALLA,RUPA & CO. NEW DELHI,2004,
Keki N Daruwalla is one of the most celebrated and the most admired poets of modern Indian English literature. The Sahitya Academy Award conferred on him in the year of 1980 for his collection of poems titled The Keeper of the Dead. Further he has also been ownered with the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Asia in the year of 1987 for his another collection of poetry named Landscapes. Both of these prestigious awards are the evident of the fact that Keki N Daruwalla is an established litterateur of his age and his writings reflect the real human life and its relations with man, animal and nature. This poet has nine volumes of short stories including a novel to his credit. He is also an assiduous reviewer of books, especially poetry. His poetry appeared in several anthologies, both in India and abroad. The penguin Books has also published his Collected Poems during the year of 2006.

The Scarecrow and the Ghost is an another anthology of great importance written by Keki N Daruwalla. This collection of poems is published by Rupa and Company, 1/16 Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi, during the year of 2004. The book is divided into three parts- The scarecrow and the Seasons, The scarecrow and the Owl and A Ghost Story. Basically the poems of this collection are written for children but the poems are equally valuable and profitable for adults also. Because these poems introduce the readers to the beautiful world of nature and animals. The poems are quite witty and also thoughtful as it opens the various moods and trends of human behaviours to the readers. In fact it is rare for a poet of stature of Keki N Daruwalla to also pen material for children.

The poems of this collection focus on an unusual scarecrow that is quite sensitive to the world around him, even at the time when he is watching on the bird- traffic, monkeys and porcupines. The readers can see the entire nature and the changing of its various moods and seasons from the point of view of the scarecrow. The language of the collection is quite capable to brought alive the whole nature in a simple yet artful and humorous manner. In this regard, Amita Malik, a noted literary figure, opines that his style of narration and exquisite control over language makes each story a literary delight (The Sunday Statesman).

In the opening lines of the collection some basic questions about the nature always bother the scarecrow, for example, how the seasons come and go, but the ways of the seasons are not known by him. The scarecrow feels that these questions should be known by him. In order to find out the answers of these questions he bolts his upper storeys doors and wonders:

Then he wonders why on earth His head goes round in circles for. While seasons circle round and round Like oxen on a threshing floor.1

Daruwalla gives a beautiful and lively description of different seasons through the eyes of the scarecrow. See how beautiful and accurate portration of Autumn is given in the following lines:

The stubborn mule headed trees Will not go off their leaves! The mango, once generous with fruit, Becomes an absolute brute, And as if its a matter of pride Will part with one leaf a night.2

The relation of man and animal is very beautifully depicted by the poet through the scarecrow in the following lines:

When the wheat is young the monkeys come

x x x

The scarecrow has a hard time knowing one from the other, the noisy monkeys chased by their noisier human brothers.3

In the second part of the book The scarecrow and the Owl, the scarecrow is the symbol of common man and the owl denotes the poet community of the society. In this section, poet narrates that the whole night the owl dictated his story to discover at dawn, but the scarecrow had not a pencil. The owl hooted the whole night like a flour mill or like a rice mill at the edge of the village and during the day the owl slept and dreamed that he was a poet. In this way, the owl entire night spoke to the night and to the scarecrow but the scarecrow felt boring and angry because it was not his duty to hear the owl. Rather there were better things to do for him, for instance, he can sleep in the night because he had a long day to keeping off the crows:

The entire night The night owl Spoke to the night. The whole night the night owl Spoke to the scarecrow. He was bored and angry For it was no part of his duties To give a hearing to the owl There were better things to do; Sleep, for instance; And he had had a long a day Keeping off the crows.4

At last the night owl was so bitter that his tongue is developed a blister. He then took his complaint against the herons to the the then Prime Minister, V.P. Singh who did not bother and rejected his application:

But V.P. Singh Though he spoke the same language and was a man of masses returned the application saying I only deal With the back ward classes.5

It is a great satire on the cunningness, hypocrisy and dual ness of political persons or man of masses. He also aimed at Balasaheb Thackery, his Shiv Sena, Kar Sewaks etc. Keki N Daruwalla targets not only the living style of common man or the learned society but also to the so called gentleness and softness of the modern society:

Be very, very careful! There are many dangers: There are foxes, there are cats There are pine martens And there are bats And during the day Men are around, and nasty boys Who have catapults for toys. The chicks asked when can we be careless?6

In the third and the last part of the book A Ghost Story, the poet depicts an another story that involves the ghost and the poachers who wanted kill the deer and the scarecrow at the night. The villagers were quite poor at poaching and as such they telegraphed straightly to Veerapan requesting him to grant the coaching, as they were in great need of it:

And cursed their luck cursed the ghost, Realized they were poor at poaching. They telegraphed Veerapan straight: Respected saar, we need some coaching!7

Are the poachers confounded at the end? That is the real thriller.

The collection of poems The Scarecrow and the Ghost is of 48 pages widely acclaimed volume of poetry written by the most celebrated and admired literary figure Keki n Daruwalla. The price of the book is Rs.195.00 only. Beautiful and accurate illustrations by Pulak Biswas contribute a lot to the greatness of the book.

References

1. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 06. 2. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 15. 3. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 16. 4. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 22. 5. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 25. 6. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 31. 7. Daruwalla, Keki N, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, Rupa and Co., 2004, p 48.