In Mannequin of our times, Vandana Kumar imagines the insights culled from the banal and mundane aspects of living. However, this living takes place on the edge of a civilization falling into ruins following the pandemic. In some ways, Kumar's poetic vision leads the reader toward an understanding that not much is changing during this global historical upheaval. She writes poignant lines about the human condition such as

the history of grief
is too old
to have started this year
and too young
to end with it.

With these lines, we sense Kumar struggling to situate the contemporary into the universal. The universal may take precedence, but personal experience is the wordsmith's true fodder. These poems speak of the contemporary through the lens of particular observations that engage with our historical moment. The universal person is questioned, however. Mannequin of our times is an experience of living within a world on hinge, a world facing dubious battles of its own.


The cracks within


Why do you shy away?

Let me see you in the day

the glint of grey

peeping through your burgundy

the silver cloud line

in the midst of sunshine


why do you act demure?

Return that wanton laughter

why so tame this noon?

You heaved some nights

delirious under the sheets

just us

and a quarter moon


why are your papers?

No longer in disarray

why is the garden trimmed?


That broken pot was never meant to be fixed

and a part of your heart

like a country’s porous border

kept open for invasion.

Reviews:Kashiana Singh wrote:

This collection stayed with me for its poetry but as much for its dimensionality. These poems are not limited, they spread their wings out and about in terms of theme as well as voice.