Book Review “The Cuckoo’s Voice”

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Sandro Puleo
The Cuckoo’s Voice is a collection of children’s poems by the young Kashmiri poet Shafkat Aziz. These poems are indeed prayers, and although originally meant for children, anyone can feel inspired by them. The images are very strong, but always mixed with grace in the mind of the author who has the vision of a better world. His is a world where peace and a compassionate attitude prevail: “Let me be kind even to my enemies.” A heartfelt appeal to see everyone with the eyes of love because “you breathe the same air everywhere”. In every line of his beautiful poems the author offers his readers wings to fly, even though he would not go anywhere if the world were at peace. Poems are much more than a handful of rhyming words strung together! A poem can make you feel reflective and even emotional. There’s an internal rhythm and for few moments the poet invites you to his dream world. At times, poems can be so intense that resemble prayers. This is the case with the VOICE OF CUCKOO, a collection of children’s poems by the young    Kashmiri poet SHAFKAT AZIZ. The author, who is conversant with rhyme books for nursery and KG classes, gives his young readers a lot of food for thought. His poems are indeed beautiful prayers, and although originally meant for children, anyone can feel inspired by them. The images are very strong, but always mixed with grace in the mind of the author who has the vision of a better world. His is a world where peace and a compassionate attitude prevail. Like, for instance, in ‘Listen To My Woes’. In this poem, the author confesses candidly that his heart is hard and prays that it may soften if it can be filled with love for mankind. He doesn’t want to live like a blind man and knows that both knowledge and courage are required to undergo a change of heart. And that’s where forgiveness becomes the rule, that’s where tolerance becomes the number one priority. Kashmiris as a people have gone through a lot in their lives, and this spirit of forgiveness and tolerance is so much ingrained in their psyche. It seems as if the poet’s heart is screaming silently, “Let me be kind even to my enemies.” Kindness to friends and relatives is also nice, but if we try to be kind to our enemies, that is extraordinary. Elsewhere, in ‘Whether You Are Black Or White’, Aziz makes a heartfelt appeal to see everyone with the eyes of love because “you breathe the same air everywhere”, and “you need the same water to put out a fire.” The poet knows that though mankind has been advancing tremendously in every field of life, racism is still marring the relationships between man and man. We have to learn to perceive the spiritual element in every individual, and in this way the superficial division imposed by the color of the skin will fade away. The author is aware that it is important to instill proper values in the mind of his young readers. In almost every poem he also reminds us that God’s greatness can be seen everywhere. ‘A Star In The Sky’ and ‘The Signs of Allah’s Might’ are poems that remind us of God’s love and supreme position. We are blessed beyond comprehension. Reading the poems of Shafkat Aziz also helps us to remember that there are still walls of hatred that needs to be broken, then only “we will live together without any fray”. In every line of his beautiful poems the author offers his readers wings to fly, though, in his own words, he would not go anywhere if the world were at peace.