Flakes by Nikesh Murali is an extraordinary work that combines beautiful images with philosophical aphorisms. He succeeds in drawing the attention of the readers to contemporary problems, which haunts us incessantly. Romance and its universal language are important ingredients in his literary works.
Culture grows on the shoulders of vanguards; its development is not a placid travel but an awesome awakening that endures millenniums. Murali dares to face the present and future of our planet without loosing the beauty of rhythm and its divine intent. The postmodern world is near that ‘Decadence’, which the poet describes in the last poem of this collection. The poet is in fact creating a mood to describe the fearless stance of the mind in the face of miseries and self-destruction, burning issues concerning human beings in the third millennium. What my own work (“Two Sizes less of Brain”, Caddan, 1999 and “Postmodern World”, Caddan 2001) sustains as ‘Social Poetry’ is nothing more than ‘Art’. Though critics have categorized this as ‘Critical Art’, they have failed to include its intention. Literature from this point of view has the sacred purpose of modifying the vile world. But how can we transform reality with the single weapon of our lyrics?
Murali’s poetry possesses the ability to of moving the heart and brain at the same time. Allegories, metaphors, choice of melodious words and constructions are used as literary edifices to seek refuge from the ugly characteristics of the age. Post-modernism has swallowed cultural meanings and covered literature with a cloudy gown of anti-aesthetic realism, but the poet refuses to shut his eyes to the poverty, hunger, violence and injustice surrounding him. He remains sensitive and profound, transporting our cognitive thoughts towards righteousness.
“Flakes” is organized in three parts: Life, Love and Loss.
The “Beggar Boy” appears in the first place of “Life” as a message (Poverty is a black hole in the heart of this age). Like a shark, biting our heart, with a valuable intention he writes:
“Can a pleasant scent erase.
This living portrait of disgrace”.
In “Godman (A devotee canvassing fervently!)” the author makes an overwhelming, admonitory announcement about the evil in this world.
Join the spree.
The tormenting end
Is about to come”
Afterwards, the soft, tangible music of his poetry grows freshly in “The Window”, “Train Journey”, “In the Park” and other poems. The hypnotic rhythm of his poetry rocks us like babies. The surprising happiness of being alive, in the middle of “a valley of tears” gives the poetry of Murali a beautiful kind of spontaneity. Ideas float freely inside his river of thoughts, without fear.
In “Move Ahead” the poet encourages us to follow our lives
“Through paths that bend and unbend”.
In “Tales” he plays freely with words that reverberate and charms us with its splendor. We understand, at this very moment, what the author intends to convey through the title of the book. Words are little dwarfs in our minds; constructing and de-constructing every sentence, like snow flakes over a gray surface.
At the beginning of the second part we are powerless to escape from his passionate feelings and his lively power.
“Love” describes the sensuality and deepness of this young spirit who is in harmony with a universe inside our own souls. With a resplendent emphasis he enjoys life, love and the innocence of nature, in its all-enamoring purity.
In the poem “EARTH JEALOUS LOVER”
“I detest the warm sun that caresses you”
But he never disappoints our critical view and he always includes a philosophical request.
In the poem “A SONG FOR MY BROTHER”
“Where is the truth?
Where is the love?”
“Warrior and the Moon” is one of the best poems in the book. Here, the author uses an allegory. He describes two characters: the Warrior and the Moon, and their fantastic love story. There are two levels of interpretation: A literary message and a philosophical one. It is a major endeavor that showcases beautiful poetic language.
“Once again he boarded Santer.
But this once, in a fit of fury.
Reached atop in a flash,
His blind anger ready to slash”
The message underneath the poem is that violence never conducts us to happiness. Humanity is, just like the Warrior, in a continuous hurry, involved in a frenzied form of self-destruction. Abandoning this tendency will open its eyes to the value of life, love and spiritual ecstasy.
Far away from pessimism, we enter into the third part “Loss”. In an instant he introduces us to the fiercest monsters of mankind.
“Flying beasts that ate you all
Swallowed the peaceful globe”
A touch of dark humor is best shown in “The Fly that Dies”
When the poet writes “Decadence” he interprets this era from a peculiar point of view. It leaves the reader with a very visual and poignant feel of the state of the world and is ample evidence of the author’s impeccable control over the language.
“Another decade has passed,
Creating a blockade in millions of hearts
Its huge fins churning pools of blood,
The whale moves on its deadly quest”
Murali is definitely a brilliant poet, whose work stimulates our soul even as life nosedives uncontrollably, going faster and faster to embrace a cruel ending.
He is a courageous leader braving the abyss of postmodern times, just like ‘the Warrior’ who does not will to use any other weapon other than his own authenticity.
Maria Cristina Azcona.2002.
Nikesh Murali has published Four collections of poetry (paperback), two chapbooks and eleven e-books with several international publishers. He also self-published his M.A. thesis titled 'The Atheist's handbook' and also a collection of poems, stories & sketches titled 'Book of love' with Queensland artist Krystal Lee Huff. His works have been translated into seven languages and featured at international book festivals including the Latin American book festival held in Buenos Aires. They have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines all over the world. His poems and short stories have won and have been short listed for several major writing contests. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2003. He was awarded the MCA Bilingual Club Poets for peace award in 2006. He was awarded the Griffith University Award for Academic Excellence in 2005.
Nikesh Murali has served as managing editor for The Pointer (India), online editor for The Tabloid, editor for the Niche anthology series - Books 1& 3 (United Kingdom), staff reviewer for E-book Reviews Weekly (Canada), chief editor for the university literary magazine The Litterateur (India) and is currently editing the Bilingual Poets Series & The Year’s Best Magazine for Ibex Press (Argentina). He has also worked as a columnist for Castlebar News (Ireland), Romanceatitsbest.com (United States) and Useless Knowledge (United States).
He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia and his Masters in Teaching from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He has written a course on athiesm based on his controversial book 'The Atheist's handbook' for Suite101.com and is currently working on his first collection of short stories.