the drums beat all night
there was singing too
death brought offerings
of flowers and wine
gifts, it said, from you
In Shabbir’s poetry collection, the drums beat all night, the title which takes itself from a poem about imminent death we see the call for spiritedness even in the face of death. In many of the poems, even those dealing with serious social subjects or about personal hurt, lightness is seen in the poet at play in the world of the imagination, the poet playing with the clay of words and celebrating joyfully wit, humour and the embrace of life. Such play is not an abdication from adulthood or a narrow seeking of pleasure in a narcissistic or anti-social sense, rather it is the meaningful act of the creative being revelling in the endless potential for fullness via the imagination. The spirit, open, unfettered, and at play, we are shown, enables us to be the very best we are capable of being – tenderness, compassion, resilience, love and life-givingness itself. By bearing his writing task conscientiously and fashioning his craft lucidly, Shabbir invites us to nurture confidence in ourselves, in our collective humanity and in our future. To quote Shabbir Banoobhai:
if i met you and you allowed me to
i would ask only to brush your hair
without asking, i would clip your nails
so that i could hold your hands and touch your feet
i would say nothing more
i would hold you so lightly you would never know
This is the value of lightness of being, of remaining open to being humane and fully human and of holding to our wonderful capacity for freedom, gifted us by the generous writer.
(Roshila Nair, editor of the collection)
All rights reserved – the authors.