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Life in darkness inspires poetry
- Visually impaired youth gets a chance on radio

Abhijit Saha has just recorded a series of poems at Akashvani written by himself. This is not the first time that a poet has recorded his lines at the All India Radio office, but Abhijit’s is an extraordinary feat.

Abhijit is blind from birth.

He hails from a poor family from Kamakhyaguri village in Kumargram block of Alipurduar subdivision. The village is adjacent to the India-Bhutan border.

Abhijit has had to struggle not only against physical disability, but also poverty. His family is very poor. Abhijit’s father works in a local shop and his two elder brothers sell vegetables.

From childhood, Abhijit would try to make up for his loss of vision, with his imagination and expression of his thoughts through poetry, which would make him feel free. He has been writing poems from the age of 10. Now a student of MA in English at Rabindra Bharati University, he studied up to Class VIII in Alipurduar Subodh Sen Smriti Drishtihin Vidyalaya, a school for the blind. Then he studied in Kamakhyaguri High School and Kamakhyaguri College with honours in English.

Of late, Abhijit has been very busy. Poetry has added movement to his life. Before the recording, he also participated at the World Poetry Festival held in February at Ramakrishna Mission, at Golpark in Calcutta. His poems will be sent to Poland where they will be published.

In January, he also participated in a poetry competition for the visually disabled held in Sahitya Academy. Among the poems he recorded at Akashvani are First September, Matir Kachhe and She Tumi. His poetry is more about feelings, attitudes and state of being, than imagery.

He talks about the world losing humanity, lack of respect people show to one another and the terror spreading through the world. “My family members, especially my music teacher Bivash Banerjee, encouraged me,” he says.

“Now I am 21. I am very happy to have participated at the events. The problems of the world touch me a lot,” he says.

Sparsha Nandan, a journal for the visually challenged, organised the competition in January this year. Satyajit Mandal, editor of Sparsha Nandan, said over phone from Calcutta: “As far as I know, this is the first time such a young visually challenged poet will record his poem at Akashvani.”

At the world poetry competition, where Abhijit was judged seventh, 64 poems were submitted. They did not carry the names of the poets below. Shankho Ghosh and Kamal Dey Shikdar were the judges. Out of several participants from different countries, only five visually challenged candidates from India took part. Abhijit was the youngest.

After hearing him at Ramakrishna Mission, Ashish Giri, an official of Akashvani, made the offer of reading his poems on the radio. Mandal said he has contacted Bogu Slaw Marek, a professor in Poland, who will publish a poem by Abhijit in a journal in Poland.

Abhijit’s music teacher Bivash Banerjee said: “Avijit studied in our school up to class VIII and he is very talented.”