The poetry book “Where Even the Present is Ancient : Benaras” by Maitreyee is a poem in itself. When I started reading the very first poem, I unknowingly moved into a phase of trance, a phase of mysticism, a phase of hypnosis. How can someone write such simple poetry and create that effect? Well, you have to read this book to understand it.

In this poetry book, Maitreyee writes about Benaras, everything about Benaras. It is like a journey through the streets of Benaras, where we see the happenings of Benaras, not only with our two eyes, but also with our inner eye. She writes about the Kaala Bhairav, Ganga, Manikarnika Ghat, Krishna and other things we know Benaras for.

Her writing is simple, but profound. She does full justice to the poetry genre she has chosen – lyrical poetry. She uses colloquial Hindi terms in her poems that add to the beauty of her poems. Also, she never fails to mention the meaning of the words at the end of the poem for people who are not attuned with the language.

How can I pick one poem out of her book when all her poems leave a mark in my mind? But, my favourite is “The Death of Desire”. Death seems beautiful the way she describes it.

If I have to rate this book, I will rate it 5 out of 5 stars. There is nothing that I would have liked to have seen different in this book, nothing. It is a simple poetry book about Benaras that tells us various stories about Benaras, about us. The raw, rustic feel of the book is something I can’t get over.  I have been to Benaras before, but, her description of Benaras wants me to visit it yet again, but, with an inner eye opened this time.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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