At a time when the world is at the cusp of tipping over a cliff of destruction, poet Santosh Bakaya’s collection of peace poems ‘Where are the lilacs?’ comes as a grim reminder of reality but also gives the answer as it envelopes in it the message of peace.
 
Through her meaning-laden verse, Santosh Bakaya takes the reader through the fields of time, the struggle of millions trying to escape the throes of war and brings forth the voice of the marginalised. We hear echoes of those kids whose life was reduced to that of a flicker, the orphans whose innocence was ripped apart by the bombs and bullets of the ‘righteous’.
 
The songs take us on a journey where one can hear crickets on a sleepy evening, birds bursting into a melody upon chancing on rain and bask upon frisky squirrels on their hind legs of anticipation.
 
The poem ‘And The Earth No Longer Slept’ talks about positive change after a long dry spell. The transcendence of the scenery from one which was sullen, parched and hopeless to a vibrant one with magical rains which stir the flora and fauna. The following lines from the poem give us a sense of a better future, where the ones who have been hurt by hard times get back on the path of rebuilding.
 

After having played truant, now the rain poured and poured.

An injured lapwing its lost confidence regained

No longer to invisible shackles chained

Its leg no longer pained

This is a nutshell of the first section of the Collection and talks about the rain which is not just a physical entity but also a rain of memories – both good and bad. It is a metaphysical rain of the spirits that have long endured in the face of war and misery, the voice of the subaltern.

From rains to turbidity of war

The second section is fiercer in its demeanour as the drums of war beat nearby. It opens with the immortal words of H.W. Longfellow – Over the whole earth, still it is Thor’s day. The opening poem is titled ‘Onward they trooped’ and talks about scores of refugees, broken in spirit, walking towards a new home and hearth. Ripped apart from their homeland, they walk with broken spirits and brave dangers for their survival.
 

The clouds hung low, thunder growled

Danger prowled

Onwards they marched.

Waiting

Waiting in an expectancy of fear

For something worse to happen.

The above lines take the reader to that muddy field which the refugees tread and we further delve in their lives and watch them erupt in smiles upon reaching the border. Their eyes shine with hope and this gives us strength for making an effort for a better future for our generations which still have greatness and kindness in their hearts.
 
We search for peace in the little boy who is overjoyed on selling a sticker to a kind soul, we see a glimpse of it in the embrace of lovers caught in the middle of a strife. We are jolted by the smile of a teddy bear, sitting next to a tiny boy who was embraced by untimely death. Through this turmoil, the one thread that binds the fabric of humanity together is the ever prevailing thought of peace, the kindness of the human soul and the rekindling of hope.
 
The book’s last verse sums up the anticipation of a better tomorrow with Santosh Bakaya giving us food for thought by saying:
 

Let the bells chime

Let the glowworm shine.

In the New Year, there will be joy, there will be peace.

It is a must read for the young and the old alike, for it serves up the memories of the past and intersperse them with the coming future.