Thursday, May 15, 2008


Nimakh literally means “small,” “little.” When I first went to Amarjit (Sathi) Tiwana’s haiku blog, I was reasonably impressed. When I started to interact with him, he offered to send me a copy of his publication NIMAKH- his book of Punjabi haiku poems.

Haiku is (perhaps) the smallest poem in the world. Having its origin in Japan; it has been adopted by poets world-wide. To me it is no less than a wonder. It is a superhuman ability to express oneself in a matter of 10 odd words and still end up saying a poem.

The poet informs in the book that Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha has defined the word Nimakh as “the time taken to blink an eye.”

I was at work when someone called up to say that he had brought Tiwana’s book for me. It was a huge surprise. I was grateful, I was happy and I was amazed that I got the book within 48 hours of saying yes to Tiwana’s offer of sending me the book. I reached home by 1 and found the book- Nimakh was really nimakh : 84 pages and only two poems on each page – lest quantity should override quality. All of 17 x 11 cm ( 4.4’’ x 6.4’’) – it was fit to be carried in my current purse. As the kids went into the swimming pool at 4.30 p.m., I dived into the book. Consuming one poem by one poem, one page by one page– I was amazed at the expression, angry at one reality depicted in one poem, pleased with another, nodding at a truth condensed in a poem, agreeing with the nostalgia in another—my response was that of a child who has been made to sit in a room full of toys. She doesn’t know which toy to handle first, which one to keep, which one to let go. I normally do not dog-ear the books I read. But the devil inside me wanted to dog ear at least 20 pages for a future reading. The book was so cute that I couldn’t muster courage to do that. So I tried keeping a little scrap of paper as a book mark to go back to that particular poem.

The most striking thing in the book after its poetry is what Navtej Bharati has to say about the poet and his muse. I wouldn’t literally translate what he has to say but the crux of his foreword is something like this.

We tend to take things around us for granted. We see things only as far as we need them; we live only as much as we need to. We refuse to see the miracles around us – miracles that happen everyday, around us, with us, in us. It is due to a “stare” (geijh in punjabi – when we get used to looking at things in a particular way). It is such poetry as Tiwana’s that breaks this geijh. It is such poetry that tells us of the Nature that is beautiful with the presence of mankind, and is beautiful sans mankind. Man is diseased with a narcisst approach. Nimakh washes our eyes to show us the world around. They tend to include us in the Great Chain of Being. We see more and we live more.

I won’t quote any of Tiwana’s poems here. You need to go to his blog and read them all by yourself to have a first hand feel of the miracle.


Anonymous said...

There cannot be a better tribute to what Mr. Tiwana must have written. Only a poet can write such good words for another poet. i wish i too had the understanding to read and understand a poets insight and vigour.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Sounds interesting...

Rajindarjit said...

You have indeed dived into the book, while kids were swimming, it is evident from this blog.

Sathi 's poems are so brief in size and so deep in subjects, that reader can not do without appreciating every poem .

Different aspects taken in the poems give the evidence of the Poet's life experience.

Me too leave the remaining datails/comments for the onward readers.

I will write in Panjabi for Sathi Sahib, separately.

I appreciate your effort to keep the spirit of poems open, for the bloggers.

Keep it up.

God Bless You.


Ramanujam said...

Nice post, Manpreet.

S.M.A.R.T said...

Can I get a transliteration in hindi or english for Mr Tiwana's poems... I speak punjabi though not read and write :(

Not a translation, just punjabi written in english or hindi will be nice.

Any clue?

Anonymous said...

Ah..Haiku...I first encountered this poetic style in maybe Middle School. I am not much of a poet, nor have I the discipline or desire to read it( oh so sad). I love to listen to it. I hope on my next visit to Punjab, you will take me to a nice cafe or a place of your choice, and recite your poetry to me. It seems Mr. Tiwana's book is short enough for me to devour it when I come and visit you. Thx for sharing your insights. It encourages me to keep open-minded and refrain from being pessimistic.

Much Love,
Sukh Bajwa

Manpreet said...

SMART: I think I can transliterate the poems for you. Maybe do a new post for everyone else who does not read Gurmukhi.

Sukh: I had read sporadic Haikus but this was my first dive into the Haiku sea. I m sure you will enjoy the book too.

S.M.A.R.T said...

Looking forward to you posting some of the transliterations soon!

Ramanujam said...

Hi, I arrived at this post by clicking on the link to it in your more recent one 'Nimakh' Transliterated - 1. Nice post. What a pity I can't speak/ understand Punjabi!