Twenty-three-year-old Minaxi Sajeev is on a voyage of self-discovery and catharsis of the soul as she seeks to figure out the elusive elixir that we all seek- happiness.
Her book ‘The Unlabelled Happy Woman’ is a compilation of 14 poems written over the years and brought out by Partridge Publishers, an enterprise of Penguin Random House.She thinks beyond the petty feminist ideal with its set notions of the struggle for gender equity.
Without falling into the set-piece trap that a sensitive person could have easily fallen into, Minaxi shows the mental poise to steer clear of it, as she herself tells us in the preface. The title shows her yearning to transcend limiting labels and the realisation of the happy woman within. There is a patient and brilliant foreword to the book penned by the former IAS officer K. Jayakumar.
The bureaucrat-poet has lauded the budding writer for her candour, intensity of verse and the extraordinary felicity to fathom the import and gravitas of situations. He tells us that Minaxi’s poems ‘present before the reader new facets of truth….like a glimpse of the invisible side of the moon.’ Each poem is preceded by a short introduction by the poet. These poetic pen-pictures set the tone for the vivacious imagery that follows. As a child, Minaxi belonged to the city with its convent schools, cartoon network and swimming pools. She was that girl who chased hens and climbed trees at her grandfather's place. A poem like The Guava Tree can only come from such an experience. Like most kids, the writer too, had faced societal compulsions to fit in, to conform, something that the inquisitive, rebellious free spirit in her naturally questions.
No better examination of mindless tradition can be found than in the short poem 'Disney to Business', wherein she discusses her fears of a hasty arranged marriage. It will strike a chord with the young people. The angst against curtailment of individual liberty, abuse lurking at every corner and general discrimination is an undercurrent of the book. It is a strong leitmotif especially in a poem like Fort that underscores a powerful statement of feminine empowerment. It is the restlessness and turbulence in the mind that keeps many poets going. Minaxi is no exception.
Perhaps it is that sentiment which comes tumbling down in the form of a poem in which she says insanity is ‘a giant sleepy bird chained deep inside us’. Her observations elsewhere in the book are equally sparkling. Eternity is ‘nothing but an unwanted existence’ while life itself is ‘a wagon slithering through two long rails– dreams and reality'. Draupadi continues to be a favorite character of Indian writers- with both feminists and others. Drawing immediate inspiration from Chitra Banerjee’s novel Palace of Mirrors, Minaxi pays tribute to the perennially suffering Mahabharatha heroine through the prism of her refreshing observation of the queen’s travails in the poem Fall of The Queen.
Why the Lamp Fell, That Day is a telling indictment of the superficiality of our expressions of grief in public. The poet’s keen eye for detail contrasts the intense sense of loss of the immediate family of a young deceased person and the put up charade played out by visiting relations. It is a poem evocative of Nissim Ezekiel’s classic ‘Night of the Scorpion’.At 60 pages, Minaxi’s book is a slim volume but one that shows tremendous promise. The writer has a fine sensibility tempered by a mature world view and a keen observation.