After Midnight by Mohan Rana
Perhaps it’s this distance from his native country that has contributed to his poems’ most striking characteristic: their absolute refusal to accept anything at face value, their persistent — almost child-like — questioning of reality:
Does fish too drink water?
Or the sun feel hot?
Does light too see darkness?
Does rain too always get drenched?
Do dreams too ask questions about sleep like I do?
he asks in ‘After Midnight’.
Yet behind this apparent naivety lies a deep layer of complex philosophical and literary inheritance.
Mohan Rana’s poetic sensibility is that of a traveller. It is the journey that engages him, not just the destination, since he prefers to take ‘the road that leads nowhere’ (‘Not What the Words...’). Like one of his most famous predecessors, the founder of modernism in Hindi poetry, Agyeya, Mohan Rana is ‘not even a traveller, but a seeker of a path’. Perhaps this is the secret behind the popularity of his poetry: it takes his readers on a journey of discovery that frees us of received meanings and reveals the extraordinary in the everyday.
Extracted from Lucy Rosenstein's essay.