“Doppelganger In My House” by Nalini Priyadarshni

Nalini Priyadarshini’s first poetry collection, Doppelgänger in my House coils around you and takes you to a journey of love, heartbreak, sensuality and forgotten soupçons of the past, with sharp imagery and unique analogies, both mythological and mundane everyday happenings. She says in the introduction of her anthology: ‘I believe there is no beginning or end of our creativity only a time when we become aware of it and want to share it. As a person who has lived most of her life within her mind I lay no claim to have any intimate knowledge of the doppelganger that comes to inhibit my house, nagging my kids for clearing their room and hassling my spouse while I am chasing the muse.’ When you read the poems of this anthology, they come across not just as the intellectual practice, but as the ‘spontaneous overflow’ of a creative mind. In her own words- ‘The best poems are those that write themselves. They come to me some days and if I am ready I write them down otherwise they are lost,’ (A Doppelganger in My House)

What could be lovelier than
waking to your whisperings
warm breath on my neck
I sigh and turn
eyes still closed
and let my mind wander to
that dark and secret place
abloom with a thousand baccara
between sleep and wakefulness
where dreams go to die
and poems are born

The book is roughly divided in five sections, with a short poem setting the mood for the poems that followed.

I gather pieces you squander away
Your poems in the dresser of my mind
Lock of your hair in my wallet
I mean to put them together, someday…

And for a book all of 95 or so pages, there are plenty of emotional nuances and moods in this very warm, sometimes, sizzling and exciting collection. Poems herein are a tribute to the power acquired and released by a voice that find itself part of two worlds-one the mundane solitude of aloneness realizing there is someone inside who doesn’t belong only there and the intimation that it is part of a greater world of realization that stretches back through time and connects to the timeless world of understanding.

Nalini does not hesitate to try forms of poetry from beyond her native land to add to her repertoire of expressiveness. Several such as evidenced by her

Sun & Dew: A Bussokusekika

First rays of sunlight
Turn dew covered grass into
Valley of diamonds
Ethereal beauty lasts till
Sun rides high into sky and
Licks them off to the last drop

are included in the collection. Nalini shows an excellent grasp of the spirit of various forms as well as their structure in her numerous exercises of Japanese forms. Perhaps among the more difficult of languages, even for a trilingual person such as she is, of which to grasp the essence.

It is willingness to experiment with diverse forms of poetry, even some from other lingual traditions that broadens a poet’s scope. She has a firm grasp of that axiom. This Sigo gives us a glimpse into her very subtle sense of humor.

Alas counting sijo syllables, I have run out of fingers
I suppose after ten I could start counting on your tips
If you would only sit still long enough and keep your hands off me

One of the most endearing traits of Nalini’s poetry is her ability to combine sensuality, sexuality and humor to give the reader a uniquely new experience.

“Half life of any half kiss is way longer
than regular kiss of any variety
typically, a lifetime”

There is nothing mundane about treatment of sensuality in Nalini’s poems included in this collection. Her sensual humor and witty metaphors make reading this book a unique experience.

Tastes almost like love

A jigger of whisky and a jigger of vodka
together in mango juice
taste horrible
not recommended at all –
You say and we laugh
-neither is whisky in cocoa.
We both agree
nothing beats golden lager on a hot day
or any day, for that matter.
I like the taste of it on my lips
almost as much
as taste of you.  

I will not be exaggerating when I say that each poem in this book is a treat that enraptures the senses. Her sensual dance of words makes you want to love and be loved. Every page turned is like another delicacy unwrapped. I would recommend this to all the romantics, travellers, or to anyone who is looking for something illuminating for their soul.

Nalini Priyadarshni has authored a poetry collection, Doppelganger in My House and co-authored Lines Across Oceans with an American poet, late D. Russel Micnhimer. She is widely published in India and world over in numerous literary magazines and journals along with several international anthologies. She has edited several poetry anthologies including Contemporary Major Indian Women Poets (2016) and English Section of Resonating Strings (2015). Her poems and views on poetry and life have been featured on All India Radio, FM radio and podcasts in India and abroad. Mother of two teenagers, Nalini indulges herself with paint and brush every now and then. Her recent publications include Madras Courier, Better Than Starbucks, Different Truths, Duane’s PoeTree, The Ugly Writers, Counter Currents and more.  
Andrea Ashima is an avid reader and a movie buff. She has a blog Bibliophiles Cafe, where she reviews books and interview authors along with sharing her occasional gastronomical experiments. Musically driven, she enjoys all genres while dabbling in poetry. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines like Better Than Starbucks and Duane’s PoeTree. 

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