Title: Like Blood on the Bitten Tongue: Delhi Poems
Author: Akhil Katyal
Art by Vishwajyoti Ghosh
It isn’t easy for people to read poems. There is something about this genre that either works for some and doesn’t at all for others. What works for me is the brutality of a poem – the sweet sharp pain, and the after effects of reading a poem. A poem that etches itself on to your heart, is something I look for. Constantly. Unknowingly even. The one that arrives silently and works its way to my heart.
Like Blood on The Bitten Tongue: Delhi Poems is a collection of old and new poems by Akhil Katyal. I read this collection in one day – in a gulp. I hurried through it, without letting go. I rushed through it and yet knew words, sentences, and emotions that spoke to me. I recognised them because we all go through the same – yet we feel we are different and so different from each other. Poetry makes you see the similarities, and smile or weep or both in good measure.
Katyal’s poems are about love, longing, a paean to the city of Delhi, to its streets and signs, its small shops and crooked lanes, its monuments, and corners where lovers meet. His poems make me want to go to the top of my building terrace and scream out loud. They make me want to yell and be heard. He writes of lovers – of you and I. He writes of silences – the ones that hang in the living room as we drink cups of tea and hope someone messages or the phone rings. He writes of a better world, a better country where the voice is held high and we all come together. Katyal writes of humour, he writes of the people on the margins – the ones who live in shadows and yet make themselves seen in ways unknown to the world.
Reading Katyal is to be hopeful. His poems make me believe that it is possible to find love, even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Katyal’s poems have a structure, and then they don’t. They meander and roam free like cats. They have a life of their own and that is made very clear right from the very beginning. Vishwajyoti Ghosh’s art is complimentary because it also tends to not follow any pattern or norm. The art reflects Delhi – Akhil’s Delhi – the Delhi that couldn’t be anywhere else but in Delhi. Of cable wires in the air, of pigeons seated on tombs, of the Delhi metro and people who inhabit it day after day, and also of Bombay and how he sometimes yearns for the sea. The art reflects Ghosh’s Delhi of Delhi Calm, of the Delhi in today’s time and world, of Delhi protesting against everything and standing out.
I wrote of a love gone by in the margins of this book. I found myself scribbling alongside Akhil’s words. I also found myself teared-up when he speaks of love and longing and loss and Hoshang Merchant, and then of JNU, of the Delhi Queer Pride, and all things that make us and we become or unbecome as we live.
I am not going to ramble anymore. All I am going to say is read this collection. Read it. Reread it. Read it. Reread it. Fin.
Here’s my playlist for Like Blood on the Bitten Tongue: Delhi Poems:
- Aaye Kuch Abr by Atif Aslam (Coke Studio)
- Faasle by Kaavish and Quratulain Balouch
- Aaja Re More Saiyaan from Coke Studio
- Shaaman Pai Gaiyyan by Naseebo Lal
- Jaana by Zoheb and Nazia Hassan
- Aise Hijr Ke Mausam by Chitra Singh
- Ek Chaand from the movie LOEV
- Babul Mora
- Ronay Na Diya
- Dilli 6
- Rehna Tu Hain Jaise Tu
- Kissi Ko Bhi Toh Mukkamal
- Jinhen Naaz Hain
- Raah Pe Rehte Hain