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Review: ‘Hibiscus’ stabs readers with smiles

More than our physiques, the COVID-19 pandemic has shrouded, stricken our minds. The scare has hurt more people and caused widespread harm than the virus can ever do. The trust has bottomed out. Attacks on healthcare workers and increasing suicidal behaviour are testimonies to this. To fend off this negativity which have grimed our minds during the pandemic and the prolonged lockdown, an anthology of poems called ‘Hibiscus: Poems that heal and empower’ was much-needed. As the name suggests, the key objective behind ‘Hibiscus’ has been to include poems which can heal and empower us deep within. Its editor, Kiriti Sengupta along with his team has successfully gleaned the best creative works to produce one of the notable poetry books of this year.

“what if the only words I talk
would spring from presence

what if the only path I walk
leads towards essence”

–Alexander Schieffer, ‘Life Never Dies’, Hibiscus, page 24

The above lines aptly resonate with the overarching theme of the anthology and drives us beyond the surface. It effortlessly unearths the deeper layers of meaning and shows us beyond the seen or understood. As we plough through the pages, we discover different shades of happiness and hope. ‘Midday Sun’ by Aneek Chatterjee is one such poem that shreds gloom into pieces and endeavors to alter our mindset. The following lines struck a chord with me:

“Let us invoke the powerful midday sun again
to drive away all gloom, all despair,
all uncertainty surrounding us this time.”

–Aneek Chatterjee, ‘Midday Sun’, Hibiscus, page 30

The anthology includes multi-hued shades that not only render peace and serenity but make us empathetic. A storehouse of smiles and radiance, the anthology nudges us to stay together even when there is a chasm of ‘social distance’. For example:

“And she smiles
Her happiness is contagious.
There is no explanation for anything.”

–Bharati Mirchandani, ‘Caring For Aged Mother’, Hibiscus, page 41

“Waves of condolences
I stab my staff with smiles
Oceans retreat.”

–Prasenjit Dasgupta, ‘Sanmukhapriya’, Hibiscus, page 126

“A smile
Etched in the face of Existence’

–Rama Mani, ‘Who am I’, Hibiscus, page 131

This collection reminds the reader powerfully that negativity is the creation of our mind. The moment we change our mindset and start seeing things through a positive lens, everything appears bright and blessed. For example:

“The world is not a sad place,
unless you are a melancholiac


You are creating the world,
which you see and in which you live.”

–Divyanshi Chugh, ‘The World Is Not A Battlefield’, Hibiscus, page 54

Having gone through the beautiful collection, I’m determined and have decided that the collection will be a regular part of my luggage during my travels. I will carry it along wherever I go so the gloom and despondency doesn’t hang around.

I highly recommend the collection which has just been released by Kolkata-based Hawakal Publishers.

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