Book Review: Unanswered
Author: Kunal Uniyal
Publisher: Samaya Sakshaya
Rating: Four stars
Borrowing a leaf from poet Kunal Uniyal, ‘I do not doubt That You are, Who you say, you are…But I can See You? Just as You are?’, Unanswered strives to provide answers to human existence in its environment made by living and non-living entities.
Unanswered is not limited to poems but thought-provoking words seeking answers to our existence as ordinary mortals, be it suffering or trauma, life and death. The book is a gem that will accompany us on the glance we often cast on life, often flawed where we seek our true self in the far from perfect life destination.
The author’s reflection on the cycle of life and death, transitory happiness finds echo when he says, “We fear change. We encounter suffering due to the cycle of birth and death…this seems exceedingly morbid and pessimistic. After all, there are plenty of times when we are happy. Aren’t we?”
The poem, ‘I will go on’ throw light on the path tread by humans and our senses when we battle consciousness. The words are simple, effortless but never vain-something people associate poets with. It gently touches our souls and minds which are often at the receiving end of complexity.
A tribute to the bard Rabindranath Tagore finds echo in his word play, ‘Walk Alone!’ The sheer passion with which the author frees the mind with the tribute, toggling with words to make an impact is simply stunning, speechless and effortlessly effective. He reflects on death, something we have the unique tendency to pour reason which is often in conflict with nature. A long speech translated into words but totally worth it.
The author offers a fair view on the need for souls to prepare for the ultimate journey, far away from the metaphysical state and the need to switch off or unplug ourselves, for that matter. He explores with passion on the journey of rites and karma that encapsulates human existence.
Prose to reflect on with this gem, ‘Death-A New Beginning’:
“People get lonely
Because photographs do not talk.
A bit of paper-cannot be flesh and blood.
Sometimes I see death as stillness-in the stillness of noon
In the stillness of bodies-men with dead eyes, women with dead hair.”
A tale of romancing death with words that strike like thunder and wake us up from our state of morbidness where we are often dead in consciousness. It’s trance writing.
What strikes me the most is his approach towards prose, poetry and reflection on religion and the rites that often define our lives.
“This world was created out of consciousness. Out of a void, darkness and ignorance, consciousness materialized.”
Kunal, in his monolog, hit the cudgel with the right nail, regards religion’s existence as long as human beings are alive. He raises interesting questions on Vedas and Upanishads as he makes an interesting comparison to tribes such as Fangs of Gabon and Maoris of New Zealand who believe in the concept of after death. Inference is made to the Hinduism worship of numerous males and few females divinities, eschewing patriarchy deeply ingrained in our beliefs. One is tempted to wonder on the simplicity of worship and long narration rites that we recite as parrots in our need to quench our thirst or atone for our sins. It’s thought-provoking on the interpretation we have so far in our respective religions, be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam.
Sailor to Saint is another aesthetic poem, playing havoc with our wandering mind in quest of stars, boats free of turbulence and furious seas.
“Rowing my battered boat, across the furious seas
Enraged as an angry demon, ready to topple me
Winds hitting with a rage of a dragon
Waves towering high, ready to smash my meek soul.”
Unanswered by Kunal Uniyal treads the path of universal truth, seeking to provide answers to questions we are often afraid to ask. The collection of poems is light and grim at the same time to souls willing to explore the truth but often a harsh reality of life. It’s a must read collection of poems.
PS: I thank November Child who blogs at The White Scape who facilitated the book.