Freedom in Speech

Words come easy to Manmohan Singh, who uses his daughter's name "Mitwa" as his nom de guerre. Singh plays with metaphors, meanings and moments to create a new vocabulary in verse as he initiates a "Bebak Conversation". For the 70-year-old poet and former Air Force pilot, poetry has been a constant companion. What keeps it alive in his heart, he says, is his ability to see and feel the world with the enthusiasm a child.

Singh describes his first book of poetry Bebak Guftugu as an attempt to see life in all its totality, with all the shades of light and darkness.

He has been writing since childhood, and it was upon his daughter's urging that Singh has published his book. Bebak Guftugu (Rs 250, Unistar) is dedicated to his daughter and the poet acknowledges that many of his poems were written when his daughter was going through a tough time. Singh wrote his verses to her, hoping that they would give her solace as well as courage. "He is my friend, father and guide, and his words have always inspired me," says Mitwa, who was visiting Chandigarh from Canada for the release of the book.

Tum rooh ki baat kiye jaao, aur main zikra sitaron ka the book's first poem is an ode to hope and light. Poetry, adds Singh, is not a story or an incident but life's pulse and "a poet is one who feels this delicate pulse in whatever he hears and sees". Singh's poetry reflects his own desire to break free without disturbing things around him.

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