Book: Just for Once by Indira Babbellapati (2019) / Book Review: Leonard Dabydeen

Book: Just for Once by Indira Babbellapati (2019)

Author: Indira Babbellapati
Binding: Paperback 76 pages
ISBN: 9789388125970
Pub. Date: 2019
Price: $15
Sketches by Tabitha Percy, Freelance illustrator and an architect based out of Hyderabad.

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere”. ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Love is the most everlasting gift you can find in yourself. Make your offering with divine blessing and your world will be a better place.

The great 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Jalaluddin Rumi, once said, “A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.” And Lebanese poet and philosopher, Khalil Gibran emphatically concurred in the early 20th century that we have to “Love one another, but make not a bond of love; let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
In this book, Just for Once, eminent, prolific and variously published and award-winning English poet and translator, Indira Babbellapati, speaks to us in a collection of 66 poems in a sari of 76 pages to imbue this fragrance of love. The ocean-depth of her impeccable voice resonates in an opening blurb titled: Between you and me…:
Love is the only force that unifies the world; love between a man and a woman is the first step in the process of realizing the different states of consciousness in becoming one with the divine through the unification of prkriti[nature] and purusha[men], connecting us to the pracina[old] earth; we inch towards the threshold of each other’s soul…to dance eternally in each other’s embrace!
Indira evocatively contends in the last three lines of this blurb,
This continuum is a single breath…
Breath holds it all but for once. Just for once…
That’s all!
And with vehement approbation, Indira meticulously spanned her collection of love poems over a five-year period between 2006-2010, to make this embroidered, rich continuum, Just for Once. As in some of her previous work, there is no content page; no title to the poems. Readers acquiesce to highs and lows of pleasurable love, meaningful and sensitive in the rhythmic dance emanating from stanza after stanza in each poem with every breath they take. Most of her poems have been written in 2008, perhaps when her consciousness was more in tandem with divine rhapsody, to massage the unification and purification of love between man and woman. In this resplendent aura she sensually marinated her rich, imaginative versification in metaphors with harmony of nature, swirling ebb and flow of tide, of seas and the glow of sun and moon and sky to enrich essences of pyaar aur zindagee (love and life).The beautiful illustrations that augment some of the poems, to add drama to the imaging of thoughts, were cleverly done by Tabitha Percy, a freelance architect and illustrator based in Hyderabad. She also completed work on a previous English Anthology, A poem that painted the sky, by author Indira Babbellapati, Cyberwit, 2017.
Turning to the fulsome back-cover blurb, entrancing her literary magnolia career, author Indira Babbellapati trails ‘a former faculty in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences of Andhra University, Visakhaptnam’, embracing the acclaim of being a widely published poet cum translator. She has feathered her literary cap with several original anthologies, streaming her writing exuberance in the Sahitya Academi, fetching English translations of books in the Translation Bureau of Dravidian University, Kuppam, and Journal of Literature and Aesthetics with such work as Prince Hemmingway of Allam Seshagirirao. Short stories of “Sripati” were also translated by Indira, and she contributed to the Canadian Postcolonial Discourse online literary journal, with accessibility to several online poetry portals.
Indira’s poems also captured the attention of the Bernard township Public Schools Basking Ridge, New Jersey (USA) with her recommended titles For Those with Low Self-Esteem for Literary connections (Formerly known as English 8) grade 8 Revision: Summer 2008 Supervisor: Janet Ankiel, D Litt.Revision Committee: Jil Burt Donna Keenan Colin Simpson.
Many other literary works of poems and novels for English translation are under publication. Some already published, including Shadow of the Sun.
Indira’s English poetry work can also be found in many languages, including Hindi, Bangla, Spanish and French. She is well-known in literary forums of national and international stature such as Asia-Pacific Writers and Translators, and SAARC.
The blurb reveals more.
Let us cast some random look inside, Just for once…

we got our feet
stranded in the damp
sands by the shore
the sea vapour kissed us
and the surf hugged
our innocent feet…

do you remember
how you tried in vain
to have the wave that
came rolling to the shore
in the cup of your palm
on that evening by
the lonely beach?

there’s a different wave,
a wave of desire rising
and never falling
in the sea of my love
for you, nurtured from
lives unknown…

come my love
cup the waves in your palms

just for once

4th July 2008 13.40 hrs
(p. 7)

Here we can feel a romancing ambience by the sea shore, with imagery playing persistently to evoke emotions, then the finale of bated breath nurtured with joy…”come my love/cup the waves in your palms/ just for once.” Language simple and effective, reflecting a smudge of Tagore in Unending Love:
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

And with heart-beat endearment, Indira writes (p.12):

I know of love
that blinds…
but to love you
my blind lover…

my love for once
sees all
with the physical eye
as well the inward eye

this heart you
can only feel
these lips you
can only touch
speak volumes
to your finger tips…

in the all seeing love
i love you
with eyes seeing
and heart knowing

just for once…
(20th December, 2007)

And with deep emotional satiation, Indira explodes in a poetic crush (p.38):

let our fingers
flow on each other’s skin
like words in a poem

let our fingers
explore the wilderness
of our bodies

let our breath
inundate us
like a flood

and let the flood
carry us away
to un-tread terrains

just for once, my love…!
(22nd December, 2008)
And to be noted here is the line drawing by Tabitha Percy to lend meaning to the poem.

And read the harmonious, lyrical and metaphorical panache in this poem (p.39):

i cup my palms
to gather the petals
of your laughter
that my palms flow ever
with your laughter…
(first stanza)
(26th December,2008)

And as if LOVE has become an ever flowing stream in her thoughts, Indira makes a sudden appeal (p.42):

love is not love till
i find myself
vulnerable in
your arms,
for once!
(1st January, 2008)

And to sway in amorous balm of nature, Indira touches our feelings with silken softness (p. 48):

the weather is
numb with desire
that hangs like
a Damocles’ sword…

let’s dare
explore each other
as infants
explores their body

let’s touch each other
as innocently as
children do

let’s lose each other
in rediscovering ourselves
in satiating
the newly discovered desires
that haven’t
so far touched
this earth
for once!

8th June 2007

Nothing is more revealing with appetite for love than the exploding harmony in this poem. Beautiful!! It’s as if Persian poet, Rumi speaking to lovers in their pleasure dome:
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.
Even when there is a heavy rainfall, Indira takes the lovers for a playful drench in the rain (p.55):

not sometime ago
did I feel confused
and confounded
when it rained
the whole day

what do i do
not to have a drop
on me was
what bothered me

as I hear the rain
I hear it as singing
to the beat of your
being, to the rhythm
of your breathing
how can I keep
away from the rain?

come, my love
let’s get drenched
in the music of rain…
as it rains in an ensemble…
just for once…
3rd March 2008

Like enjoyment of the first draft of monsoon after a drought-like spell … drenched in a prism of love.
Also, in moments of ecstatic enjoyment, almost plunging into an ocean of love, to warm exultation and adoration of t’es l’amour de ma vie, or as what English Romanticist poet John Keats would vehemently say: I love you the more in that I believe you had liked me for my own sake and for nothing else, Indira immerses the reader in this book, Just for Once to a sweet, passionate endearment in this poem (p.65):

this embryonic desire
to surrender myself
at the altar of your passion
to feel the warmth of your breath
that breathes the skin
into a glow
to taste those lips
that determine the course
of our growing passions
set to flood either of us
dislodge me out of this
empty human reason
and put me on flight
of fancy
no longer can I
resist this call of desire
9th September 2009

And quickly, without further adieu, Indira did not declare “this call for desire” …just for once! A total absorption of body and mind in this love affair.
With the last poem (p.75), Indira gives us a philosophic outlook of love in a planetary solstice, appealing to the reader to express this explosive emotion in unchartered territories:

sighting stars
on a full moon sky

star dust on us
from a dark sky

nudges us
to a star trek
when in bleakness

come, my love

let our love
jettison us
to unexplored
paths and planets

just for once…
Just for Once is a beautiful book that would touch you in a highly, sensitive way, reaching out to your need to explore more about LOVE. A must read.


Book Review: Leonard Dabydeen

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