'Avoi Zalea Zaanti' (Mum Has Grown Old), the first and long-awaited book by poet Ramesh S. Ghadi, was released on Monday. The 146-page book of verse contains 90 poems of a poet whose work has been closely watched for its powerful expression, earthy tones and rustic images that he brings with him. With a charming and real-life cover created by artist-politician Sanjay Harmalkar, the book takes its title after a poem which creates images of exile from Goa, his deep homesickness, and memories flooding back while he worked in the deserts sands of Dubai for a longish stint.
Ghadi's poems are brief, short, but sharp. He deals with rustic issues in a touching manner. Some of the titles of his poems are indicative: The Ponds Have Dried Up; Render (the toddy-tapper); or Those Days Won't Return. There is a sense of loss, amidst the development and change taking place, as Ghadi looks at the lifestyles we have lost, even if these don't reflect in statistics and official record.
As he works in Dubai, his homesicknesses gets the better of him, and he appeals to his mother to "send me a little soil from Goa in your mail". Ghadi's themes focus on the rustic, a decline in values and human hypocrisy, our treatment of elders, emigration, the travails of the farmer and other toilers, among others. In his poem It Won't Make Any Difference to Me (Mhaka Kai Farak Podcho Na), Ghadi explains why showing affection after a loved one or family member has already departed is totally meaningless.
What happens when we have sold our land, asks Ghadi, in 'Jenna bhata Vikun Sopli'. He reminds children that they will get the same treatment they meted out to their parents in 'Puta, tukavui hich vaat'. His recordings on YouTube have also taken his poetry to wider audiences. Ghadi is known to question the romantic version of Goa, as well as the claim that only good things have happened in Goa as part of its "development". He says: "There's a price to be paid for keeping your village beautiful. It's not easy" in 'Ganv Bhettech Sobith Urona'. Ghadi has been an agriculturist, bodybuilding coach, environmentalist, and a national-level bodybuilding judge -- some of which reflects on his verse. He has been penning poems, stories and columns for the past two decades in a number of Konkani and Marathi publications, while his postings on Facebook have also earned him a considerable following. He has presented his work at poetry readings and also on the local television network. In an introduction to the book, Dr Bhushan Bhave notes that Ramesh Saju Ghadi's earthy poems have received a good response from state as well as national poetry lovers.