A couplet for every occasion
WAS Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s poetry read because he was the Prime Minister or did the fact that he could express himself through poems, so unlike most of his political friends and rivals, help him become the Prime Minister? Well, the hard yards of politics are impervious to the mood and metre of poetry. As for the former, the jury is out. There are the old faithful who believe that Vajpayee did not do justice to the poet in him, that politics took a toll on his poetry. They believe that the poet who gave us Meri Ikyawan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems) and Na Dainyam Na Palayanam (Neither Self Pity Nor Escape) was a man who had a wide range of poetry at his command. He could use the pen as a brush to paint with words. He could use it as a scalpel to heal wounds, too. He could use it as a weapon to settle scores as well. He could write with equal felicity about the dangers of war and Hindu mythological elements. They point to his works like Hum Jung Na Hone Denge and Hindu Tan-man, Hindu jeevan. Each poem merited a rewind o,r as they say in mushairas, mukarrar (encore).
So what prevented him from being more prolific? Politics, and its unending power struggle, a world where only the names of the characters changed, the demands remained the same. Vajpayee himself once confessed, “Politics arrested the flow of my poetic propensity. Poetry and politics do not go together.”
SPEECHES LACED WITH PAUSES
Yet together they did go, enabling Vajpayee to rise many notches above the average political speaker. His speeches were laced with pauses, and poetry. For those who covered Parliament, and those who attended his impromptu gatherings in the evening, no mehfil was complete without a Vajpayee couplet or two. Like a skilful practitioner, more often than not, he had a couplet ready for the occasion. The gentle glow of the setting sun and the more amenable pace of life after the humdrum of political existence during the day