'Oh, Mizoram': Of solitude and lessons from nature

It is Sreedharan Pillai's first collection of English poems


Mizoram Governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai is known for his copious literary output. A lawyer by profession and a politician by passion, he has authored 120 books on varied subjects ranging from politics to legal issues and even the arts. While he has penned 14 poetry collections in Malayalam since 2004, the year of the pandemic saw him dabbling in English verse. The result is a slim volume dedicated to his current posting, titled Oh, Mizoram. It is Pillai's first collection of English poems.

Attuned to the natural wonders of the northeastern state, Pillai summons the historical hills of Lushai in his titular poem 'Oh, Mizoram' and how he gathered fortitude from the mystic Mizo hills, calling to mind the restorative powers of nature poetry. In the 'Raj Bhavan Garden', the poet-politician in his brief moment of solitude at his official residence envies Thoreau's life in the woods until the still, slumberous afternoon is set abuzz with roving bees again. The quietude of nature coexists with enlightenment which is more immaterial as in the poem North-East Calls, "Cast aside the clouds of darkness/Break the night and enjoy the silver dawn!"

While the poems amply illustrate Pillai's deeply felt enchantment with his immediate surroundings, it is also worldly wise in the way it zooms out to touch subjects as diverse as the coronavirus and 'broiler chicken' politics. This expansive range is unavoidable as Pillai wears multiple hats; he's been a successful lawyer, a noted orator, philanthropist and thinker. The foreword in the book compares his love of nature to be as compassionate as that of Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth. Taking time to reflect, organise and express one's interior landscape after a day's hard-headed political commitments is no mean achievement and Oh Mizoram attests to that discipline and commitment.  

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