Tamarind: Sweet and Sour Poems on Love, Loss, Longing, and Life by Akhila Mohan CG | Book Review

When I was about 10 years old, I decided to try my hand at writing poetry. What did a poem need to be anyway? Alternate, consecutive, or all lines that rhymed? I could write anything about anything, then. At least that’s what I thought. But as I grew up, I discovered more and more about the power that poetry holds. It’s not just rhyming words. It brings out a person’s emotions in ways that we never thought it could. I grew, I understood, I learnt that in limited words and short verses, poetry can tell a person’s history, a person’s feelings, their pain, their hopes and dreams, their deepest, darkest secrets, as well as everything they live for.

Tamarind: Sweet and Sour Poems About Love, Loss, Longing, and Lifea 68-page poetry collection by Akhila Mohan CG, is one such. In this, the poet bares her soul while also baring the world’s hypocrisies, truths, fears, and conditioning in a series of poems that are also extremely personal to her. Before I get into the review, let me just give you a quick gist of this collection: if you’re looking for simple but impactful poetry, Tamarind is one you should definitely pick up.


What This Collection Offers:

Tamarind is a collection of poems that range from the personal to the societal and everything in between. If one poem talks about one’s relationship with one’s parents, then the other talks about how a woman’s beauty is not the only special thing about her. Every poem is almost colloquial, and the whole collection in itself won’t take you long to devour, even after giving yourself time to ruminate on what it talks about. 


What I Liked About It:

Akhila Mohan’s poetry is simple, but hits home in several different ways. This simplicity is what rends your soul because as cliché as it may seem, many-a-times, beauty resides in simplicity. Akhila Mohan has harnessed this and used it with ease. And it is this ease that makes Tamarind a delight to read while it gently touches and soothes your heart while invoking memories, fears, hopes, and dreams. Through all of this, it makes you re-evaluate your own life and decisions.

My 10-year-old self remains amazed, for isn’t this another side effect of poetry? Some much-required introspection and self-evaluation? Tamarind, with its sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, sometimes bitter, but mostly familiar aftertaste, does that for you. It embraces you with everything it has and everything you come with, and tells you that you are not alone. And my 10-year-old self smiles, even though she mightn’t understand everything. Yet.

With poems like The Womb of the Mind – where the poet talks about what it means to give birth and be a creator, and not just to other human beings; Amma – where the poet pays tribute to her mother; The Pandemic Has Made Us All Equal – which is pretty self-explanatory; Shea – where the author starts off with: There is so much / more to the sea /and to a woman / than their beauty; every poem carries truth, simplicity, honesty – something that we all need in these times of personal and communal chaos.

It’s difficult to choose a favorite poem from this collection, but if I had to, it would be this.

It is true that we only realize

the value of our loved ones

in their absence,

but I felt the oncoming vacuum

even in your presence,

as I faced with dread the near end

of our bond, togetherness, and relation.

Tamarind by Akhila Mohan CG

How raw, how simple, yet how impactful these words are! 


What I Didn’t Like About It: 

The only thing I didn’t like about some poems in this collection – and that’s actually way too strong a phrase – is that some of the poems seem contrived. Every line in a poem doesn’t have to rhyme with the previous one. And in a few of these poems, some of the words used to make the rhymes seem unnecessary and the effect becomes forced and rather un-poetic.


Final Verdict:

As an amateur poet myself, it was validating for me to read Tamarind and see how pouring one’s heart into a poem can be so eye-opening. It’s a beautiful collection, one that you can pick up and finish reading pretty fast. At the end, you will be left either feeling soothed, validated, smiling, or all three.

Definitely a thumbs up from me!

Here’s where you can buy the book: Tamarind: Sweet and Sour Poems About Love, Loss, Longing, and Life.

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