Bookish Witch

Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 by Sabarna Roy

Book blurb:

To readers of Sabarna Roy’s Random Subterranean Mosiac: 2012 – 2018, his latest slim and elegant volume titled Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020: Letters, Ideas, Conversations and Poems comes as another delightful read. In this two-part volume, packaged with a selection of his poems, Roy explores the concepts of duality and constancy in discussions with his daughter. Presented as conversations over coffee and desserts, the talks extend to diverse topics with Lolita at one end and marine conservation at the other. In his poems, Roy and his alter-ego, Sandy, soothe and shock you in turns until you burst out of the last page, breathless and asking for more.

Sabarna Roy’s characters are all around us. He has dabbled in poetry, prose, plays and non-fiction with equal elan and delved into the emptiness and futility of life reminding us of the masters in the trade.
Two quotations from Sabarna Roy’s works will prove the above stated point:
“A question leapt into his mind: Is it possible to achieve true happiness by living a solitary life or is it important to lead a community life where one instinctively believes that one’s own desires are insignificant compared to the desires of others and one works towards fulfillment of their desires as if they are one’s own?

Many questions crossed his mind. Did he secretly crave to believe in god? Was he looking for a god to deflect his loneliness or was his loneliness actually a sense of pride, which was an obstruction between him and his god?

Genre: Fiction/Poetry

Pages: 71

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback


  • Kindle eBook: 75 INR/ $3.00
  • Paperback: 149 INR/$6.00

My Ratings: 4/5

This book is part fiction and part conversational, with thought provoking opinion pieces on a myriad of topics right from Literature to philosophy. It also has poems which are more like individual stories told in verse.

What I liked about the book:

—> It made me reflect on my opinions and ideologies around popular topics such as Marxism or literature works like Lolita.
—> Though it’s a short read of just 70 pages, it draws you in and you’re tempted to either read it slow or read it over and over again to get the essence right.
—> Each piece has layers and layers of messages and opinions.
—> Most of the poems haven’t been titled and instead have been dated, leaving them open to interpretation and a form of curiosity about the story and content contained in them.
—> My most favourites were the letter that talks about Lolita, the conversation about Marxism and the poems January 16, 2020, Jallianwala Bagh – 100 years and January 28, 2020.
—> It’s a stimulating read, which will stay with you for a long long time.

What I did not like about the book:
—> Some pieces and lines were complex to comprehend (and if that’s the case with someone like me who reads regularly, it would make it even more difficult for others) and thus bordered on being boring.

Quotable quotes :
—> In life, there are certain things that are within our control, and a lot many things that are beyond our control. The aggregate of determinate and indeterminate factors makes life indeterminate. Uncertainty is closely associated with indeterminateness as indeterminate problems are likely to have multiple solutions.
—> We could be slaves, masters, slave-masters, and master-slaves in varying orders. This is better understood with the post-modern development of psychiatry.
—> Marx failed to establish the relationship between the development of human brain and prolonged malnourishment due to years and years and years of impoverishment. The proletariat of the capitalist society were mostly the progeny of landless peasants of a feudal society. Could thought leaders have emerged out of this class, having undergone the duress of relentless economic inequity, because of which their brains could not have been fully developed due to abject poverty and hunger?
—> What happened with Marx was, because of his theory’s altruistic aims, revolutionaries wanted to adapt his theory to validate their ideas of a social and political revolution. His theory should have been given time to integrate with emerging realities. It should have been made into a more forceful, ever-emerging and visionary economic and political idea. People like Trotsky tried but faced death at the hands of Stalin. There have been many other Trotskys and many other Stalins in history. Sadly.
—> In spite of mammoth inventions, and discoveries of mankind, we have not been able to fully grasp the duality of love, and lust in human relationships.
—> All of us are swinging between the extremes of this pendulum. Where and how we exist at any given point in time is very complex to figure out.
—> Another duality is the transition of a tyrant to a benevolent, or a benevolent to a tyrant. Such revolutionary transitions happen because of traumatic circumstances. Real life stands testimony to this phenomenon. Another duality is peace of solitude and craving for an audience.
—> How will we achieve true empathy? By intellectual understanding and realization or practice. It can be argued that it is a fine balance of both.
—> Everything is in a state of constant transition and it is change which is constant? In an era of uncontrolled greed and hunger for power, how will mankind realise its infinitesimally small place in the universe? In this river of life, how will mankind achieve transitional duality and not constancy?
—> I feel intoxicated by the sighting of stars, planets and
moons – galaxies and constellations
—> I loved cutting deals, by hook or crook; I looked at
anybody as competition and abhorred it
Yet, we returned to each other in one body
—> love is not an opportunity
It is my dear, grace
You have to be capable of loving and be loved
—> One day you will ask me which is more important. My
life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not
knowing that you are my life.
—> With all the intelligence that the human race has
We have learnt very little from our life experiences
—> Success is not significant; your love in pursuing your
passion is paramount irrespective of consequences
—> life is meaningless and full of futilities; yet
the struggle to make life happier for one and all
will always make you richly happy; try it
—> It is in self-death that man makes an independent choice
—> I roam around with a surge in my heart
I know not what It
keeps me going around the planet
I roam around with a surge in my heart
I know not what
—> You have adopted civilization and you fear death
I have adopted nature, adopting death
—> Between this mask and that mask, there are millions of faces
Between this face and that face, there are millions of masks
—> No answers, only questions obfuscating my line of view
—> Thinking of the ravaged and corrupted crisscrosses in
this part of the world that has happened with time; there
are only shadows and no objects to find anymore
I am not sure who I am: slaving for whom and master of what art
—> In life people around you count on you
And, by the time you learn from your actions out of
ignorance, a disaster has rocked your boat
—> Life is burdensome – family, work and trying to live a decent life
—> debauchery is a result of the way you are built, a part of it can be controlled,
and a part of it you have to give in to.
—> Devoted love as a phenomenon is a dying art

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