Weaving words from varied elements, Sahitya Akademi awardee Dr Anamika shares her journey

Sept. 5, 2022, 1:12 p.m.

By: Reshma Jain

This is how the shloka goes —
    women, nails and hair
    once they’ve fallen
    just can’t be put back in place
    said our Sanskrit teacher.

Frozen in place out of fear
We girls held on tight to our seats.
                    Place, what is this ‘place’?
We were shown our place in the first grade.
We remembered our elementary school lessons
    Ram, go to school, son,
    Radha, go and cook pakora!
    Ram, sip sugar syrup,
    Radha, bring your broom!
    Ram, bedtime, school tomorrow
    Radha, go and make the bed for brother.
    Aha! This is your new house
    Look Ram! Here’s your room
                          “And mine?”

The above translated excerpt is from the poem ‘Without a Place’ by a renowned and prominent contemporary Indian poet.

Well, today is Teacher’s Day and all of us would definitely appreciate the dedication and commitment of teachers in our life who planted the seeds of knowledge and nurtured our dreams. This special day also reminds me of a celebrated poet and a social worker Dr Anamika who is the first female poet to be awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for poetry (Hindi) 2020 for ‘Tokri Mein Digant: Therigatha 2014’.

Hailing from an educated family where her parents were teachers, Dr Anamika is currently in Poland sharing the breadth and depth of her knowledge with academics and students there.

Be it rhythmical creation of words or beautiful expression of thoughts, Dr Anamika is a free-spirited soul with a treasure house of poems. A novelist writing in Hindi and a critic writing in English, Dr Anamika has eight collections of poetry, five novels and four works of criticism to her credit.

“I was introduced to the world of poetry during the early childhood years and my parents inspired me to write ‘in a flash’. So, anything I came across, I just flashed it in words and as years passed by, I started to give structure to my writings. And the rest is history,” said Dr Anamika, stating that writing poems is a mystical process.

She further added, “Knowledge is power and Poetry is an amazing way of communication which brings out the gross realities of life and deep realisation of a situation with the use of imagery and metaphor. You can empower others only by empowering yourself.”

Known for her feminist poetry where her work challenges patriarchy, Dr Anamika is a powerful voice which narrate the absurdities and ironies in the lives of women. “Although we have come a long way, there are still miles to go. Yes, women are being educated but curbing hyper-masculine qualities will be a major milestone in achieving equality,” opined the renowned poet.

All of us have been blessed with immense potential/ talent and there are seeds of poetry in all of us, believes Dr Anamika. During a survey along with her students in Tihar jail, she said that she read aloud poetry to the inmates of the prison to study the impact of poetry. “The prisoners were moved by poetry and the study showed that poetry can help in diluting criminal tendencies. I have also done a study where the cancer survivors felt cared for, loved through poetry readings,” said 62-year-old Dr Anamika.

While reminiscing about her father who was a jovial person, Dr Anamika concluded by saying that Life is precious and each of us need to value it. Try to give your best every day and your challenges should be translated into opportunities. This is life’s biggest lesson.”

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