Published: 18th June 2018
Songs of a Crystal Bird: How Geeta Madhavan went from legal briefs to lilting poetry on life
Advocate and terrorism expert, Geeta Madhavan surprised her family and friends by bringing out a book of poems — written everywhere from inside a courtroom to an airport waiting lounge
In 2000, Geeta Madhavan became the first woman in the country to be awarded a PhD in Law in International Terrorism by Madras University - and in 1997, she was the only Asian that year to get the advanced doctoral research award by The Hague Academy of International Law. She has since become a much sought-after expert on International Maritime Law and International Terrorism, while also practicing at the Madras High Court - this year she added another feather to her already highly decorated hat - she wrote a book!
Another surprise is that this book has nothing to do with law or terrorism but it has all to do with human emotions - Madhavan's book is on poetry. Before she embarked on a career in law, Madhavan did her undergraduate degree in English Literature and before that, she had been an avid reader all her life. Having grown up on classics like Yeats, Shelley, Tennyson, Wordsworth and the like, Madhavan started to write poetry at a young age. "The book includes poems I've written over the last 10-12 years. Some of these poems were jotted down while waiting for flights, some I wrote over time, some I scribbled before I sleep and some while I was even in court. The words would just come to me no matter where I was," Madhavan said.
In flight mode - The book, Songs of a Crystal Bird, on display at the launch event in the city
The book is called Songs of a Crystal Bird and Madhavan explains why, "A bird sings whether it has a listener or not and a crystal is pure, flawless and the white light that passes through it bursts into so many other hues. It captured the entire essence of the book," she said.
However, Madhavan says that she only wrote for herself and a book was never on the cards, "It was mostly because these poems were very personal to me. They were written based on my experiences and thought. Publishing this would mean baring my soul to the world and that was something I was not ready for. But then I figured I did not care about what people thought about these poems," she said. So how did she decide to publish, was it a long-debated decision or an impulsive one? "I just decided one day that I would publish, I only take decisions that made me happy and this idea made me happy, so I sorted out all that I had written, picked 64 poems from the bundle and self-published it with the help of Notion Press. It was all very quick and now the book is already a month old," she said.
The book deals with a wide range of emotions and also subjects like marriage, gender, domestic violence, abuse, depression, human rights and even terrorism! "Even though I wrote these poems for myself I've realised now that it resonates with a lot of people. Some of the poems were written with a certain feeling but it meant something else entirely for someone else, but that's great too. Actor Pooja Devariya, who did a book reading at a bookstore for me said that one of the poems I had written about a very close friendship between two people who are married to other people seemed to be about a gay relationship. This (interpretation) is so interesting to note," she explained.
Creating trademarks: Geeta Madhavan with her husband at an event organised by Edex, The New Indian Express
Since the poems had been written over a period of time, do they also reflect her age and experiences? "No", pat comes the reply, "One of the poems I wrote about first love was written only last year, It's just a recapturing of an old memory."
When asked if she has another book in the coming soon, Madhavan says she is working on something but it is too early to say anything about it. When prodded a little more, she says she doesn't want to risk saying something when she isn't too sure herself. So is she going to leave it up to destiny? In response, she quotes her poem, "Destiny is not a woman to be wooed. Destiny is an infant to be formed." In just under a month, her book has already sold 100, a rarity for a book of poems, so a second book is obviously anticipated, but well, looks like we can only wait and watch.