Quest for eternity

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Sydney-based poet Vimla Luthra releases a new anthology

She wrote her first lines of poetry at 76. Today, aged 83, Sydney-based Hindi poet Vimla Luthra has released her second anthology of poems.

Titled Aseem Ki Khoj (The Quest for Eternity), the book was launched at the senior citizens meet of the Australia Hindi Indian Association, of which Mrs Luthra is a long-standing member.

Vimla Luthra.Indian Link

Mrs Luthra is a well known name in the Sydney Indian community, where she is called upon on a regular basis to read from her works.

“I love connecting with people,” Vimla Luthra told Indian Link. “My poems are a whole new way of doing this, and they have given me much pleasure these past few years. I continue to be pleasantly surprised at the response they generate among people.”

The AHIA Seniors platform that organised the event holds special significance for Mrs Luthra. Its nurturing atmosphere has given her, and others like her, much comfort and an entire social set of like-minded friends. Mrs Luthra’s first book, Jharna was also launched at this forum.

Chief guest B. Vanlalvawna, Consul General of India (Sydney), who launched the book, said he was pleased to see the breadth of themes in Mrs Luthra’s work, particularly her love for her motherland.

Vimla Luthra.Indian Link

Special guest Mr Abbas Alvi spoke of his pleasure at seeing his “student” going far, and experimenting with language in her works – given her mix of Hindi and Urdu, and notably even English – to reach a wide audience.

“It was Mr Alvi’s gentle nudging that has seen me reach this milestone,” Mrs Luthra acknowledged.

In a story that she loves to recount, Mrs Luthra spoke of her career in poetry that began with a “reality” show on Indian Link Radio. It was a series on poetry that Mr Alvi helmed. He threw to listeners two starting lines, and over a set period of time, guided participants, many of them first-time poets, to full-fledged pieces.

Special guest Mrs Leena Tevani, a writer and blogger in Hindi, presented a critical review of Mrs Luthra’s anthology.

The pieces in Aseem Ki Khoj span every mood and sentiment. Through her words, Vimla Luthra seeks eternity in the bonds of relationships (Ma ek amulya panna, Betiyaan), and in nature (Pyaasi nadiya, Rituraaj). She pursues it in romantic love (Haar meri jeet ho jati; Pyaar ka rang), in patriotic fervour (Jhanda ooncha rahe hamara), even in the various stages of human life (Jawaani Deewani, Kambakht budhaapa). She looks for it in celebration (Holi, Baisakhi), and attempts to extract it from our temples, sacred texts and the life stories of seers and sages (Saat sopan, Maiya ke dwar). She searches for it in her own words of congratulations and good wishes (Shaadi ki saalgirah, Nav varsh). She fumbles for it in humour (Billu ka wig, Arranged marriage), and even in moments of self-doubt (Saay, Kyon?)

But it is in her title poem Aseem Ki Khoj, that the poet finds the crux of it all: eternity is within oneself.

Self-awareness, then, is the key.

Gyaan ka anjan daaloge, ghunghat ka pat uth jaayega
Kan kan main use dekhoge, bhed bhaav sab mit jaayega.

Vimla Luthra.Indian Link

As a deeply spiritual person, Vimla Luthra finds eternity in the transcendent.

But along the way, she draws much pleasure from a host of elements in her physical, social and emotional surrounds, participating wholeheartedly. There’s the pleasure of the weekly RSL Bingo (Bingo ka mela); the excitement of the new family home (Naya ghar); the awe of the Creator’s handiwork (Karigari); the resignation of the ebbs and flows of life (Faasle); cynicism at modern-day lifestyles (Fursat nahin); a new-found love for the karmabhoomi (Australia), and much more.

It’s almost as if the poet’s prayer at the very outset, stands fulfilled:

Khuda meri nazam ko oonchi udaan de dena
Pankh mein faila hua paaon, aisa jahan de dena
Aayeen hoon dar pe tere ek aas bandh kar
Har dil ko jo choo sake, aisi bayaan de dena. 

Dear Lord, grant my song much flight, so that it can touch every heart.

What’s the nichod (nitty gritty) as you turn the last page? Live life to the fullest every single day, and learn from whatever life throws at you.

That is your quest for eternity.