Title – Obolus
Author/Poet – Roshan Varghese
Genre – Poetry
“We are all going to be one with the earth someday.
You can either choose to be eased into a six feet deep hole,
or be a meteor – Burn bright in the skies, and form your own crater.”
The unique title of this collection and the elegance of its cover caught my attention. I was looking for some poetry to intersperse between all the prose, and “Obolus” stood out for its rave reviews. Varghese defines his writing as a refined version of abnormal musings on death, dreams, existence, life and myriad topics that he writes on, opting for poetry as a more cryptic form of writing to save his journal entries from prying eyes.
Obol was a form of ancient Greek currency, while Obolus is a modern Greek unit of weight equivalent to one tenth of a gram. I interpreted this collection as a series of seemingly simple musings – light in weight like the obolus, but filled with insight that leaves you pondering upon each poem after you read it. As a reader, I look for books that are different, showcasing the writer’s prowess in expressing art through the written word. Varghese’s poetry serves as a summary of his experiences as well as metaphors for life, taking you through a divine journey of birth, death, love, envy, religion; a wide range of circumstances and emotions, thoughts and feelings, while striking a chord that resonates with the reader – as if a poem has been dedicated to you, or written about you, or your own thoughts find themselves in front of you. The poems are short but beautifully written, his command over the language on full display through witty word play and even one-line poems. The themes are random, with varying lengths and styles, differing viewpoints, intimate as well as imagined, somehow bringing coherence to this poetic universe despite the lack of relation between each poem.
As a book, Obolus is a quick read, but it’s the writer’s skill in his craft that makes you linger on his writing, even revisiting his words after finishing the book. In the author’s note, Varghese mentions music and metaphors as things he holds dear, which is very apparent in his lyrical poetry – prose, poetry and music woven together, like reading a song or watching a painting with its plethora of colors. Some of my favorites are Paracosm, Vesper, Moon’s Grief, Wasteland, The Only Ally, Poker Face, The Sheep Goes Baa, Skirmish, Enemy. I am sharing a few quotes here, but the collection is filled with beautiful lines. Read this if you like poetry as a genre, or if you’re looking to be enticed with words in a simple but engrossing read.
~To live with the innocence of one’s first breath, and the desperation of one’s last.
~Look at yourself… You are a mirrorful of miracles.
~Heaven and hell are two places in your mind. Two worlds cease to be two… In You, they unite.
~You hide behind a colossal wall of words, yet confront me with silence.
~The only thread of truth in the fabric of lies.
~I escaped without knowing how it ended – the battle between me and myself.
~I saw a face in the mirror… Hold on, which one was I again?
My rating – 4/5