Monday, May 11, 2015

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ SUMANA ROY

My friends, today we are so pleased to present to you Poets United's newest staff member, Sumana Roy. I am sure you have all encountered Sumana in the blogosphere. She is a frequent and faithful contributor to Poets United, and her work can be found at her blog, Vision. We featured Sumana in an in-depth interview in 2014, should you care to enjoy the photos and learn more about her life as a teacher in Balurghat, India. Sadly, since that time, Sumana lost her only daughter to illness, and the poems we chose for this week reflect the devastating grief that accompanies losing one's most beloved child.





Sherry: Sumana, We are so pleased to have you joining us at Poets United! And we offer you all our condolences on the loss of your beautiful Shruti. I am so very sorry for your loss. I chose three of my favourite poems of yours, that touched me so deeply when I read them, knowing they came straight from your heart. Let us take a look at Forget Me Not.


Sumana: Whenever I think of my daughter, her soft sweetness overwhelms me. I can’t help but visualize flowers in my mind’s eye. Her passing has taught me the transience of human life. Everything manifests for a few days only, like flowers. It’s not that I didn’t have that knowledge, but reading is one thing and going through the ordeal is another.


My daughter had a golden voice and could sing very well, specially Tagore songs. We Bengalis are very fond of these soul stirring songs. I believe flowers speak with us in their fragrance and hues. I do hear her voice in their bright forms. And I do remember those heavenly hours when she was inside me. I am amazed at the power of memories. I can still strongly feel that physicality even now. Every mother does don’t they? And I am glad that there is really a flower of this name ‘forget-me-not’. I wrote this poem in response to a prompt at a site that asked us to write Nature Haiku. So I did a cascade of three haiku. 






My soul awakens

To their mellifluous hue

Forget-me-not blooms

 

Forget-me-not blooms

In every cell of my blood

When I think of you

 

When I think of you

You whisper in petal voice

Forget-me-not Ma

 


Sherry: So very touching, Sumana, her petal voice. And your Shruti is so beautiful! She Is Words is another with deep impact.


My daughter Shruti

Sumana:  My daughter was greatly inspired by Anne Frank’s diary keeping. I told her you could give a name to your diary like Anne did. Though she was not very fond of pets she gave it the name Kitty. At that time she was in fifth or sixth grade I think. She wrote occasionally even when she was grown up. I don’t have the heart to read her words. So I can’t touch her. She still lies undiscovered. When I place my hands on the leather bound pages I feel her transformation as words. And she is living there with her own voice though I am not in a condition to hear that now. So I dream of her new state. Is her voice a known one or is she a different person in words?  May be she is both. 




Those unread words

On the pages of your diary

Call me day and night

I have strength not

To touch or caress them

With all my heart

When the moon whispers

In her silver voice

Do those words sing

I wonder

You loved the gleaming disc

Glued in the sequined sky

The monsoon dance

On the tinned roof next door

Lulled you to sleep

You told me

May be the pages still hold

Those lively steps

The loud summer sun

You eschewed

Your sweetness calmed me down

Are those words made of that cool shade

Falling from the banyan trees

And wrapping up the weary souls

I wonder


Now

You are

Only words

My baby


Shall I touch you

In your word form

No, not now

Come to me

When I breathe my last

 



Sherry: This sort of breaks my heart, my friend. "Now you are only words, my baby." I know your grief is too fresh to read her words right now. But years from now, maybe, and you will discover her anew. I so love your closing lines, "Come to me when I breathe my last." And I know she will. 

 Sumana:  I have seen a number of people cursing fate, God and everyone for their misfortune. It’s no use blaming any one for what we face because that cannot take away our grief. It’s better to look upward. I am fortunate enough to live beside a holy stream of words coming from great souls that constantly uplift the mind which is so very difficult to control. I have seen that their words have a soothing effect on the mind. The ache subdues making the mind stronger giving it the power of forbearance. I try to live on the words of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Sarada Devi. When as a youth I read their sayings “God alone is real and everything is unreal (transient) I thought them to be very poetic. Now I know that they are True. Some words and memories are like light, they dispel darkness in a moment. The poem is written in this vein.



When my sadness

Trickles down my cheek

I look up

I hear

My trees singing in bird voice

Wiping my sorrow

Death cannot strangle me

With His stony, icy touch

For the sun’s caress

Warms me

Inside out

Pitch black sky of misery

Fails to engulf me

As joys of memory

Twinkle and glow

My Lord

Let Thy light

Shine in my heart

Till my last breath

                    


Sherry: I am inspired by the depth of your faith, Sumana, with which you bear the unbearable. As I was working on this feature, you wrote another statement of faith, which is so beautiful I simply had to include it. 

Sumana: Responding to Mary’s prompt at dVerse, I wanted to write about myself, my upbringing and a few of my favorite things. But as I began typing something strange happened. I began imagining myself as that land where I came from. O my! Nothing could stop me till I reached the end. The spirit of unity in diversity began to sing.  I touched ancient, medieval and modern India with the mention of a few names. I posted it and I thought it was complete. 

We have some great poets and readers in our community who really have an eye for details. After leaving a wonderful comment, our poet friend Hamish Gunn wanted to know where’s the Ganges…This river is our lifeline. India is incomplete without the Ganges. From the very ancient time, The Ganga has been worshiped as a Devi (goddess) and associated with so many myths and legends. Yet I had forgotten Her! I concluded the poem with the original name of India which is Bharat.


I’m from the Divine Desire

I am the ancient land

Where Rishis saw the Mantras

Written in letters of light

And sang the Vedas

I am from the Divine Desire

I am the ocean

Embracing the streams of all Faiths

In my vast bosom

My face is of Ajanta painting

My two hands are

Chanakya and Aryabhata

My heart is of the Buddha

I speak in more than

Thousand tongues

I am from the Divine Desire

I am the divine song

Sung by the ecstatic Mirabai 

In presence of God

I am from the Divine Desire

I am the Dark Age

Where the righteous suffered

And sinners thrived

I am Suttee

Having climbed the pyre of my husband

I surrendered myself

To the sky touching flame

In many a birth

I am from the Divine Desire

I am a witness

I saw Them coming from other lands

Lashing me with their ruling whip

And trying to break

The backbone of my children

By holding them captive in their own land

I bore all      

Though the wound still oozes despair

I am from the Divine Desire

I am the flute

Of eternal lovers

I am the mother

Of all who resides in me

I am the dust grains on the streets

Still touched by holy feet

Bharat is my name

But all by mistake

Call me India


Sherry: Your faith is so inspiring, Sumana. The depth of beauty in your words uplifts my soul. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your love for your daughter with us. Also, a huge welcome to our staff. We are most fortunate to have you join us.

Well, kids? Are you wiping away a tear? Is your heart a little shaky from reading of such enormous love and sorrow? Me, too. This has been a very special one, my friends.


Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


55 comments:

  1. Sherry and Sumana, what a wonderful feature. I am so looking forward to working with Sumana here at Poets United. I really enjoyed the poems that are shared here. "She is Words" and "Light More Light" tug at my heart! I continue to be so sad for you loss, Sumana. Your daughter sounds like such a beautiful spirit. I, of course, love "Where I'm From." It is one of my favorite of your poems really...such deep thoughts! I agree with Sherry, your faith really is inspiring. You have a gift in that! We all need to find a way to keep looking upward through all we encounter in life. Not always easy, but you lead the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mary for the heartfelt words...she was my love and is now my inspiration to go on living, loving words...I am also so much eager to be working with you all and be enriched..

      Delete
  2. Thank you Sherry for sharing this wonderful interview with us, its so nice to know Sumana personally through this.. my deepest condolences to Sumana for the loss of her beautiful daughter. May her soul rest in peace.. Amen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sanaa...we type and Sherry uses her magic wand...her effort is simply superlative :)

      Delete
  3. You know I love your poetry, your light touch even to make the toughest points. Here I love the repetition and change of address:
    When the moon whispers
    In her silver voice
    Do those words sing
    I wonder
    You loved the gleaming disc
    Glued in the sequined sky
    The monsoon dance ...
    I know her, whether or not I ever hear her words.
    Bless you, Sumana! Thank you for joining our team.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Susan for the beautiful words...they so touch me deeply..

      Delete
  4. Sumana, the beauty of your words keeps your daughter shining before our eyes. And, as Mary says, you show us that someone can walk through the worst that can befall a mother, with deep faith and grace, even in the midst of heartbreak. You show us how.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Sherry, I am walking on the impossible thorny path but the name of God and His grace has given me a pair of shoes I guess, that I am still able to walk...Thanks a bunch Sherry for the feature done so beautifully...

      Delete
    2. It was my privilege, Sumana. Thanks for being willing to share this part of your journey. I love what you say about God giving you the shoes to enable you to keep walking.

      Delete
  5. This is a great and moving choice of poems, Sherry.
    My favorite are 'forget me not' and 'She is Words'. Sumana, your poems are beautiful and inspiring. I am glad that your daughter can now be your inspiration and live on through your words. I look forward to seeing more of you at Poets United.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gabriella... I had never realized before what great power was hidden in words...I love to think that she will live on through my words...

      Delete
  6. Sumana, I've read the two of the listed poems before, and like in the case of Sherry, they are some of my favorites by you. "Forget Me Not" made me cry the first time I read it. Before that, I hadn't known your poetry was so full of such fresh living and loving and the effects of a loss so very premature. There is a kind of energy in your words, full of tears and longing... and that makes them unique and alive and human.

    Thanks for letting us share something so intimate and soul-full.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Magaly...a great truth you've uttered dear friend, I am truly left with only tears and longing...quite imperceptibly they are forming into words I guess..

      Delete
  7. This is such a moving interview. Sumana you have expressed such loss in your poems. I am left without words. My blessings to you and I am glad you are still writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Peggy for your beautiful and kind words of appreciation....

      Delete
  8. my heart is breaking for you, Sumana ~ your strength is truly a thing of wonder. i'm so sorry for your loss of your beautiful Shruti. your amazing poetry makes it clear that you carry her in your heart.

    i hope someday you are able to read her words, not soon but someday... she may have left them just for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had that same thought, dani....that she left her words behind for her mom to find. One day when she is ready.

      Delete
    2. Oh dani, my heart breaks to think of her...she was all sweetness and tenderness...I so miss her soft touch..both my husband and I have left her untouched in her diary...I pray to God to give us strength to read her once...only Time knows best...Thanks for your kind words dear friend...

      Delete
  9. The last stanza of She is Words is truly heartbreaking. But it's nice to see how you have accepted everything with all your heart Sumana. Shruti is still alive within you. Always.

    Thanks Sherry for the interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Totomai...these wonderful words of yours touch my soul...I believe that God gives us everything, be it happiness or the power to bear the sorrow that He tests us with...sometimes His hand is tender sometimes coarse..the thought that He IS holding us gives us the confidence to stand up again...

      Delete
  10. Sumana is truly skewed towards the Light and this to me is wonderful; some of these poems i've read and made comments at her blog before it was a treat to reread and also to now read what i had not read before, thanks for the feature Sherry

    much love...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May my direction be always towards Light by the grace of God Gillena...thank you, dear friend for these beautiful words..

      Delete
  11. Sumana, you have such an eloquently light touch with words though they carry such weight and emotion. I always enjoy reading your work. What a sweet spirit you have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind appreciation Debi...in this wonderful community of poets we really look forward to seeing each other's words of beauty and solace...

      Delete
  12. How this broke my heart to read your words. Not only for the loss of your daughter but even in the telling of India's story. How privileged we are to have you in our community.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are, arent we, Robin? Thank you.

      Delete
    2. Thanks a bunch Robin, Poets United is an amazing bouquet of assorted blooms...I love its beauty, fragrance and hue...everyone is so precious here...

      Delete
  13. Beaautiful words flowing from such sorrow... more power and courage to you Sumana and thanks to Sherry for this feature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I do need courage at this moment and do get that from all of you here...Thank God that I found this beautiful community...

      Delete
  14. This is a very emotional post, sherry! For me, when I get emotional I choke so I tend to say less and less.
    Sumana, so much grief! Loss of a child is heartbreaking, wrenching..The pain is unimaginable. I don't know what to say. May the words sustain you during difficult season- thank goodness poets have writing as a vent. It’s all part of God’s plan, Sumana. Yes , God needed another flower for his garden..Thank you for sharing your experience and what came with it. It takes strength and courage..."Forget me not" is going to stay with me for a long time. Take care.
    Wonderful to find you in PU Team...!!
    Thank you, Sherry for bringing up this soul-stirring feature...Am glad, I didn't miss it this time. Thanks a ton, Mary!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Panchalidi, you know, now I literally live by the soul feeding words of Thakur, Ma and Swamiji...Their words, specially Sarada Ma's do have a command over my turbulent heart...and then there's Rabindrasangeet, on 25 Baishakh I immersed myself totally in those ethereal songs the whole day...what a gift Tagore has left for us and for the bereaved souls like me...
      My colleagues in school and the amazing poets of the wonderful communities do help me to carry on living, by God's grace...
      Yeah, I am now in PU team to work with wonderful souls like Mary, Sherry, Rosemary and Susan :)

      Delete
  15. Sumanadi, it was great to know you. Oh my, the grit with which you have hold the fort, going down the lanes of experiences is exemplary. I only stand in awe, wondering at so much of positivity. Please keep writing, I'm sure, Shruti breathes through every write of yours. Those lines from "Forget-me-Not" got etched in my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susmit, your wonderfully encouraging words do help me to move forward with much strength...How I wish that Shruti breathes till my last breath...

      Delete
  16. Sumana you are a beautiful and strong person and poet xo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thanks Jae...I am inspired by Alice too and I long to see her on Wednesdays and Sundays :)

      Delete
  17. Hi, so sorry for your loss. I too have a daughter ( she will be 5 years of age in this september) and I know how precious a daughter or a kid is. You have held yourself powerfully and faithfully.Just keep flowing , writing and inspiring us all. best wishes and take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes to lose a loved one is so very hard Vandana...I try to find solace in God and words...this eggs me on to live...thank you for your precious words & love to your li'l angel :)

      Delete
  18. A beautiful conversation from caring souls - thank you, Sherry, for bringing us Sumana's story. And thank you, Sumana, for your generosity in sharing your faith and grief. I am lifted up by your words - your poetry so moving. My heart goes out to you in your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks Kathleen for your heartfelt words...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sumana, your poems did bring tears to my eyes. Sometimes, while mourning someone dear to you, the words flow and you are amazed that you wrote them. I am so glad to have you here on this wonderful site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really feeling blessed to read the beautifully comforting words by you and others Sara...yes this is a wonderful site...

      Delete
  21. I cannot imagine that particular grief! Yet the poetry is not only moving but uplifting too. And I love the evocation of your wonderful country. Thank you, Sherry and Sumana, for this interview which is at once so strong and so gentle, like its subject. I am delighted that Sumana has joined our team.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have sailed my boat into the infinitely dark sea with the lingering hope of a sunrise that I know I shall see someday...your words touch me deeply.... thank you dear friend...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dear Sumana I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. You will live...until you can live again. Thank you for the interview and welcome, I look forward to your prompts.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks Annell for your kind words that truly gives me strength "You will live...until you can live again"..I believe this too...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sumana, thank you for sharing your deepest pain. It's amazing that beneath that pain I sense a deeper joy and wisdom that permanently lives in your heart. You are a very special person. I could learn much from you. So glad you're joining the team. I look forward to your prompts.
    Sherry, you nailed this once again. A perfect interview in which you help someone reveal their soul. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Myrna you speak so beautifully...your words are radiant, encouraging and touch deeply...Grief does take its toll so one has to stand up to live meaningfully...faith in God helps much to brave the storm...it's comforting to believe that someone is holding my hand specially that I am now standing at a completely new curve in my life...
    I'm also looking forward to your beautiful lines :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Sumana I cannot even imagine the depth of your loss, yet your words convey a pain, a longing, memories and always light...as Sherry said you have inspired us with your deep faith and incredibly beautiful words. I wish you much peace. Thanks you Sherry for sharing these fabulous, inspiring poems that touched my soul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Donna for the beautiful words that I need most at present...

      Delete
  28. I can't read this without tears in my eyes Sumana ~ This is very touching and I am very moved with your words ~ The Where I am From is a lovely revelation ~ My condolences to you about your daughter and wishing you more love & faith ~ You are amazing my friend ~

    Thank you Sherry for the feature ~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Grace...I'm immersed in waves of tears and desperately trying to stand up with God's grace...

      Delete
  29. Dear Sumana,

    I have been playing catch-up this week with my visits to Poets United. I have only now had time to read Sherry's interview with you. May I offer my commiserations to you, on finding out that your dear daughter Shruti had passed away. I absolutely admire your faith and strength, in trying to cope with this sadness. All the more reason why I want to thank you for contributing at Poets United and now giving your time to enable others to enjoy participating at PU. You are an example of how writing and poetry can be such a valuable channel, to assist with the management of grief and other situations which may arrive in our lives. Your poem Forget-Me-Not, is so perfect in saying what you wanted to say, in those words..I hope that there will come a day when you can open the leather bound book containing Shruti's special words too. Thank you Sherry for sharing this very sympathetic interview.
    Thank you Sumana,
    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right Eileen, writing truly helps at such dark hours and words of poets are so comforting..Forget-Me-Not is a part of my being too..thanks for these beautiful words dear friend...

      Delete
  30. Having read this just now, Sumana, I cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow on losing your beloved daughter. Surely that is the harshest thing that a human being has to live through. I am heartened when I learn of your deep faith and how you were able to draw strength from that in order to keep going. Your daughter still lives through you and through your faith.
    Your poems are straight from your heart and soul and it is hard not read them and not feel at least a small part of your pain.
    May you be well to remember your Shruti and the lovely times you spent together. She will always be alive in your heart.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks Nick.....it's always so very hard to lose a loved one but what to do......I always say,"Thy Will be done" and try to find and carve a way forward......however it's also comforting to think that she now dwells in my heart...

    ReplyDelete