In the first section of the book Bashabi’s poems describe memories and conversations with her mother as ‘a conversation that would have flowed’, from the time before her mother had a series of strokes and subsequently died.
In the second book the poems take on different voices, ‘a natural stream that flows in the same strain.’
Her words are careful and evocative and you can feel and taste all the vivid sensations of love, pain, hope, distress and wonder at this magical being that is ‘ma’.
I find human relationships infinitely interesting, and as a daughter myself, I can relate to her words (not least because my own mother experienced a sudden and debilitating condition a few years ago).
I know what it is to have thoughts that flow in a stream of conversation; blossoming in that unique and intimate manner between a mother a daughter.
There is a reference to ‘Sheuli’ (a single petal white flower with an orange stem, which blooms in autumn), in the poem ‘She was my mother’:
She was the Sheuli in my wonderland
Discreetly tender, fragrantly appealing.
I love this melding of language and culture as Indian and Scots influences pepper the work.
These lines from ‘I am your daughter’ are particularly striking when considering the cultural expectations of what it means to be ‘a good Indian mother’:
You invested thousands
to make that one journey
to clear the path
for your dreamt-of son.
The poem that has particular resonated for me (so far) is called ‘Urban Gothic: London during World War II’.
Here’s an extract of my favourite lines:
…In this stone forest of silhouettes
the wan moon swoons in pirouettes
…And girls from factories’ smart retreats
Will click red shoes in rhythmic style
A ghost army marching in, to a soundless Doric tune
Will partner each dancing dream, unfolding beneath the moon.
I’m delighted I discovered this beautiful collection.
(And it seems a bit ‘serendipity’ that while writing this post I had an alert about a local photography exhibition titled ‘Girls and their Mothers’.)