Rising: A diplomat poet's reflections
By Esther Williams
"Poetry is my way of coming
up for oxygen. It lifts me up," said Indian High Commissioner
Nirupama Menon Rao at the launch of her book Rain Rising last week.
The collection of poems, she said was a medley of emotions and recollections
that were an interpretation of life and challenges.
the book, Prof. D.C.R. Goonetilleke said her poems were multi-dimensional
in what they make the readers see, and make her accomplishments
as a person complete. Of diverse nature, the poems are sectioned
into three parts -- Remembrance, Reflection and Exploration.
Goonetilleke said that while the poems listed under remembrance
had a visual impact that made potent reading, the section under
reflections was moving, revealing the poet's empathy and compassion.
Under exploration is a series of impressions and sketches from personal
experiences set against the background of the countries Ms. Rao
wrote from, in her line of duty as a senior diplomat.
several poems, Ms. Rao said the poems were simply an expression
of herself - her thanks to life, that tell of her happiness and
grief. She said she was happy that the book was being launched in
Sri Lanka, a land so similar to her hometown Kerala.
witnessed the immense human suffering caused by the recent tsunami,
she said she hoped it would prompt her to give written impression
of what she had felt.
for her being a diplomat poet, Ms. Rao said creativity was not unknown
among diplomats, citing some diplomats who had dabbled in creative
writing. "Although we are wedded to our jobs, the office we
hold cannot stifle our life away with our existence."
High Commissioner said she spoke as an Indian and as a South Asian
as there was a common thread that linked all South Asians. "There
is a fusion of so many identities in us. Therefore, I hope that
the audience in Sri Lanka will relate to the poems and discover
meaning in them," she said.
Minister Lakshman Kadirigamar, who was the chief guest, called Ms.
Rao a poet in her own right. While commending her for the great
impression she had made in Sri Lanka and her poetry, he said she
required skill to combine the role of diplomat and poet. A poet,
he said dealt with feelings unlike a politician who would not feel
or respond to feelings, although both perfected the use of language.
Menon Rao was born in Kerala and raised in army cantonments away
from her native state. She has been a career diplomat since the
age of 22 and has served in Austria, Sri Lanka, the United States,
Peru and Russia. She is the first woman to serve as spokesperson
of the Indian Foreign Office. A Fellow of Harvard University, her
interests include Sinology, the study of frontiers, poetry and classical