This small collection of poems, “A Slip of Pen” by Laiba Fatima, is a very challenging effort by a young poetess in her teens.
This is a collection of forty poems which shows the genius and the prospects of a rising poetical mind. Laiba Fatima is a very studious young girl. She is currently doing Architectural Engineering and Design from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. She did intermediate from Kinnaird College, Lahore and had her schooling from Army Public School.
Poetry is her passion, and painting and photography her hobbies. She loves pets as well. Though very young, she is not a juvenile poetess. She is maturer than her age. Her observation is vast and her passion is deep.
The small collection of poems under review was composed when she was 17 and 18 years of age. Her poetry shows a wonderful maturity. She is a sensitive and energetic poetess. Her emotions are strong and mature. At some places, her observations and responses to the experiences of life are amazing, not expected from a person of a young age. The motif of her poems is darkness. Darkness is the real and overwhelming. Darkness is the truth. Vision is unreliable. This is the gist of her poetic inspiration.
Her poem “Caliginosity” sums up her observations and experience of life. This is the last poem of her collection which summarise dis-approach to life. In this poem she says that darkness is born with the child. If the child tries to avoid darkness, he gets into more darkness by pulling up a blanket upon him. The child is afraid of darkness but he cannot avoid it. The only escape from darkness is more darkness. She believes that light betrays. Darkness is security. But darkness is the source of all light:
“That the shadow owed its birth to light”
Caliginosity or darkness is her close friend. This darkness grows with her age. Darkness has many dimensions. The very first poem of the Collection, “Nature”, states that,
“Nature has a key for eyes that want to see”
It means that all vision is subjective. One sees what one wants to. She feels everything so deeply that she can differentiate between the association within an ocean and an association of a shadow with its object. She feels that the pumping of the heart is the bleeding of the heart. Paradox is very dear to the poetess. She feels that the presence of the friend bleeds her and the absence kills her. Her disgust goes much deeper in the poem, “I don’t belong here”. She is, in fact, an easy going and a kind-hearted girl. She cannot bear the negativity of the world. She wishes to give comfort to others. She wants everyone to become a source of happiness for others. She wonders why the world is so egocentric. The poetess feels depressed on the selfishness of man. The works around is dark but there are glimpses of light inside. The physical objective world is all darkness. The glimpses come from the heart. Life is a paradox. There are hurdles in the way with give an incentive to move forward. Apparently, they are hurdles but they provide us security. In the poem, “I don’t belong here”, she observes,
“The darkness within light
The emptiness inside
The hatred within love emotions left aside...
I don’t belong here”
This darkness refers to the hollowness of life. The poetess wants to escape this darkness to fly into the world of ideals. The poetess wants to live, not just to survive. There is a good observation in this poem, “Flames”:
“Flames don’t have shadows”
They enlighten life. In life you see fake smiles but some are genuine also. In the poem “Setting Sun” she shows a very positive attitude by saying:
“I will end myself
Fill your life with colours of beauty”
There are some poems devoted to the mother. As she says in “I am a woman”:
“I am born to endure the pain of birth,
‘It is rebirth for a woman’ they remark”.
—Review by Prof Razi Abedi
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