With a wicked gleam in her eye, Jane Bhandari explores the predicament of the middle-aged widow who after the first shock of bereavement finds herself constantly dreaming about sex.
These poems are the conversations with her midnight longings, her fantasies and desires. Far from retiring to a nunnery, she embarks on a rollercoaster ride through uncharted territory, sprinkled with predators and Romeos and some genuinely nice guys. They are all treated with tart, irreverent wit: this is the revirginated merry widow having fun, albeit mixed with some disappointment. To find a prince, she says, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. And it’s delicious.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Edinburgh in 1944, Jane Bhandari has lived in India for over 50 years. She has published two collections of poetry — Single Bed and Aquarius — and two collections of short stories for children — The Round Square Chapatti and The Long Thin Jungle. She has been included in three Sahitya Akademi anthologies among others, and has edited her husband’s biography of his father, the late Madan Puri, My Father the Villain. She formerly co-ordinated Loquations, a Mumbai poetry reading group. This is her third volume of poetry.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
“Jane Bhandari’s poems are deceptively simple, like sunlight’s ‘aluminium crumple’ on a surging sea. She lucently skins the everyday and the erotic with wicked, even bawdy, wit; indeed, female need is rarely sung with such exactitude and élan. But beneath the shimmer of lightheartedness swell poignant depths and loss’ salt. Even wisdom. A long-awaited collection, this.”
— Priya Sarukkai Chabria
“There is a “secret smile” in these poems — the smile of remembered love, often in the embrace of the elements. That smile bursts into an open laugh as the poet considers ageing and social convention, widowhood and adultery, desire and masochism. Jane Bhandari chronicles the sensual, the “strange aromatic savour of love”.
— Sampurna Chattarji
“It requires a special kind of honesty to explore the open ground of middle-age and the anxieties of dealing with both one’s past and future spreading out endlessly, but Jane Bhandari isn’t afraid to acknowledge that absence and the loss of a loved one is laced with the irony of playing grown-up games in an itchy present. In Eucalyptus Sextet and other Poems, she grants herself the permission to move beyond a widow’s acceptance of an empty bed by sloughing off chains of the past and exploring the pungent potential of new love that is at once renewed, refreshed and fulfilling. This Jane wonders if she will find herself a juicy, tender Tarzan. She does.”
— Mustansir Dalvi
“Infused with gentle self-irony and parodic ribaldry, Jane Bhandari’s poems about middle-aged love and longing are candid and celebratory, sassy and whimsical. Riffing on Wendy Cope and DH Lawrence, they invoke dangerous widows and serendipitous men, ‘women on safari’ and philanderers ‘more faithful’ to their toothpaste, as they playfully commemorate the itch that inspires love and art, passion and poetry.”
— Arundhathi Subramaniam