At some point in the evening, Marie spoke about her poem, Women of Substance from her new book. She added that it’s not just those who achieve all those laurels who can be called one, but also those who don’t have the privilege and yet go on to achieve something in life. That’s when you know that this is one lady who has claimed agency over her life and made every moment meaningful. Marie Raghavan, the quintessential Belagavi girl, educated in Divine Providence and Gogte college of Commerce, just published her first solo and fifth book on poetry, ‘Magical Moments’ at Bangalore on Friday 30th July at the Raintree.
Marie is also the Director- The Formist Group, realty company with projects in Bangalore and Belagavi and a Life-skills trainer.
Her love for poetry has seen her supporting several literary movements in Bangalore and Belagavi, including the Rostrum Diaries.
A simple childhood and upbringing is how she describes her growing up years in Belagavi.
The 4 siblings, 2 brothers and two sisters, had a fun filled childhood. Hard work was always part of her life even then. With a strict father and a disciplinarian mom, Marie and her siblings grew up protected, away from all the socializing. The Sunday mass and the family coming together for daily prayers are memories etched in her mind. Back then, she always loved to write and compose but wasn’t aware she could do it so well. The love for English was always there even in school.
After her graduation, since she wasn’t allowed to go for higher studies, Marie took up work at the Bishop’s house on an Italian sponsorship project. It was during this time Marie got married to Mohan Raghavan and settled in Belagavi. It was like growing up together, says Marie, literally setting up their home from scratch and growing from one stage to the other over the years. Mohan’s business expanded to Bangalore and Marie moved to the big city 12 years ago with their two sons.
Marie’s poems have always been about love, life, its turbulations, hope and determination to rise amidst any situation. And as you get to understand her better, you get a glimpse of how this beautiful lady has evolved. Adjusting to a new and larger social circle, keeping pace with life’s speed meant that she had to adapt afresh. Those small struggles, those attempts of understanding life and each other, are really precious, she says. “It was all about finding my identity. Being a good host, good mother and wife, required lot of adjustments while dealing with a new life in a big city was not easy. You meet people you’re not comfortable with, but being good to them was also needed. That was when I went deeper. I thought to myself, how can I be good to somebody, to everybody, even if I don’t like them.
I had to find that space in me that allowed me to connect with all the people irrespective of how they are.”
And that forms the crux of Marie’s poems that seem sweet at first read but go on to appear much deeper as you ponder upon what she means to say. Her poems speak of love, hurt and despair and yet they don’t end on a sad note. She shows how to emerge out of all that gloom with love and hope. These are recurring themes in her poems and that really glues you from one poem to the other. Here, you get to meet someone who has found her inner voice that is so steadfast; you’re surprised to find someone so clear and articulate about it.
Prod her on her secret to that million dollar smile and the contentment writ large on her peaceful face and she says “ I have overcome all that and have managed to make myself happy. It was my decision to be happy irrespective of things. That’s a spiritual journey indeed.”
Not all of Marie’s 60 plus poems in this book are from her own experiences. She keeps meeting people, and as an observant and keenly involved person, a sensitive human being and a compassionate person, people leave an impact on Marie. And that impact finds expression in her poems.
Marie started writing 2.5 years ago as she embarked on a journey to explore herself. She started with journaling to figure out what she wanted to do with life and then slowly moved to articulating thoughts into poetry. She began sharing with friends in Bangalore who encouraged her to write more. So she created a page on Instagram and Facebook. As people came to know, they approached her to take part in anthologies and soon her poems were part of a good 5 of them.
It was during the second lockdown that she decided to bring out her own book, which has now been shaped into ‘Magical Moments’. When you can’t change things, build strength, hope and goodness in you. That helps in handling everything. She credits Namrata Navalkar with whom she had a brief interaction, for shaping her outlook towards life.
Marie’s voice is filled with pride for her husband and her two sons. “Belagavi people are grounded and humble, just like my husband and me, so they stay that way even when they achieve great things” she says on a parting note.
Marie’s first solo book of poems ‘Magical Moments’ will be released in Belagavi at a special event in August