Our columnist, Lily, looks back at 2017. She recounts her journey as a writer and poet, detailing her more than a year-long journey with this webzine, as Special Feature, exclusively in Different Truths.
The first flowers of spring 2017 spread their musky fragrance. After seeing my daughter’s newborn child gurgling in the USA, I launched my first book, A Trellis of Ecstasy to felicitations by the Chief Minister, readers, the press and web. Starting an award in the memory of my late son in the World Poetry Meet was this year’s high point and the release of my second book of essays, Lilies of the Valley. Elizabeth Barrett Browning Award, Icon Award by the administration, Meritorious Poet and Author by Different Truths, Frang Bardi Award for poetry followed this year.
History Mystery of Food was a joy to write. Verses are bubbling out of me with effervescence and a novel is in the pipeline. A fresh column is simmering somewhere as I look forward to ‘Ring out the old /Ring in the new /Ring happy bells across the snow.”
The journey with my weekly column History Mystery of Food began after I successfully completed the widely read and acclaimed column Cantonment Calling, based on my life as an army wife. I think I wrote about 20 or more episodes about various cantonments in India. Besides my poems in the anthologies on World Autism Day, Women’s Day, Genocide, Durga Puja and others, I am delighted to look back at the success of my deeply researched cover stories. The one on Gulzar Sahib is read again and again whenever I am requested to repost it by a friend. The cover story on Partition was a collection of my personal memories of real happenings that I heard from my ancestors. It never fails to move people by its authentic and unbiased narration.
I also wrote much poetry and prose for Different Truths, out of which I distinctly remember the articles on Father and Moments were applauded. My invocation to Goddess Durga and the poem I penned after my mother passed away were memorable. One of my favourite poems was A Shooting Star.
When I wrote my first episode of the series on the origin and history of food, I was truly enthused with the idea, as it gave me ample opportunity to research at depth. I began with the historical journey of Naan, a universally loved bread. It was followed by more than 45 columns. I have to admit that writing a fresh new one every Wednesday was not a piece of cake. The food items were as varied as butter chicken, wine, Haleem, samosa, coffee, baklava, jalebis, dhansak, gushtaba, noodles, Christmas cake, Vindaloo, Patraani Machhi, Ker Sangri, biryani, pickles, kebabs to name just a few.
To be honest my writings for this column were an eye-opener for me. How easily food and recipes travel from one region to the other, how difficult it is to truly ascertain from where they actually took birth. I was also astonished to see two identical recipes being eaten in two totally varied cultures. Although the finest example is the accidental creation of Butter Chicken, the story of samosas is just as uncanny.
When I wrote about the origin of Rasgullas things were still not sorted out between Bengal and Odisha! The fight for ownership rights was still on. Bengal is the official place of its birth now. Since I am a self-confessed foodie, I own up to adding on inches by merely reading what I loved. For those of my readers, who fought with me whenever I missed publishing History Mystery of Food any Wednesday, I offer apologies and I hope to regale you with a different column perhaps.
To my loyal fans and readers, I offer humble gratitude for your constant encouragement and love for the words I write whether it is in verse or prose. I love each one of you with as much depth as you all do. There can be no successful writer without a world full of loyal and eager readers. My journey in the world of letters fascinates me endlessly. I never knew that a passionate outpouring from within my being could bring me laurels. I sign off with a promise to return. Keep those wishes coming dear ones. A huge thank you to the Editor-in-Chief, Arindam Roy, and his amazing team.
Photos from the Internet
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Lily Swarn won the Reuel International Prize for Poetry 2016, Global Poet of Peace and Universal Love, Global Icon of Peace from Nigeria, Virtuoso Award and Woman of Substance. A postgraduate in English from Panjab University, she taught at Sacred Heart College, Dalhousie. A gold medallist for Best All-round Student from GCG Chandigarh, she has University Colours for Dramatics. Widely published and interviewed, she authored, A Trellis of Ecstasy and Lilies of the Valley.