Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The procreant urge of the writer

The following is the link to something I enjoyed writing the other day, covering the Alchemist Hay Festival in Thiruvananthapuram for The Hindu. Frankly, I was not able to do full justice to the inspiring conversation between MT and Mukundan covered in this report:

This is the text:

Urge and urge and urge--the procreant urge of the writer…
Where does it happen? How does it sprout wings and soar weightless into the skies?

Jnanpith award winner and one of the greatest living Indian writers M.T. Vasudevan Nair probed this subtle question in a conversation with modern Malayalam novelist and short story writer M. Mukundan at the inaugural session of the three-day Alchemist Hay Festival that began here on Thursday.

This literary and arts festival, bringing together creative minds from across the world for a kind of cross-pollination of thoughts, questing the mystery of the creative process, is being conducted here for the second time.

“How did I start writing,” MT, as Mr. Vasudevan Nair is popularly known, asked himself when the question was posed to him. He said he had this urge to read and read and read right from the time he was very young. His home is in a remote village in Palakkad district and, those days — more than 60 years ago — even the nearest school was 6 km away.

He recalled journeying to the town several kilometres away once on hearing a report that someone there had a copy of Changampuzha's book Ramanan, which was a new rage those days. The whole book was copied into a notebook and the printed one returned to its owner the next day.

MT said he was born in a lower middle class family. Reading Ezhuthachan's Ramayana each evening aloud at home was a tradition then. If a boy could do that the right way, the elders would say “he is okay; he is good.” Children used to be entrusted with the task of taking cattle down to the riverbank for grazing. On the way to the riverbank were paddy fields and the cattle were not to be allowed to nibble on the plants growing there. If one could handle the responsibility well, again the elders used to say “yes, the boy is okay; he is good.”

He then heard about a special issue of a literary magazine that had devoted an entire page to the photos of the leading writers of the time —Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, S.K. Pottakkad and a host of other writers. He climbed up and down the hills to another village to procure a copy. He cut that page and mounted it on a cardboard to preserve it. He used to wander around the silent expanses of the fields of the village and the riverbank, throbbing with an irresistible urge to write.

MT knew there was something exciting about the creative process. He had heard about Vaikom Mohammed Basheer selling his own printed slim volumes of fiction, going round the streets. “Here is something I have written. I am a writer. Will you buy a copy,” Basheer would tell those whom he met on the street. Changampuzha used to do the same thing to earn something so that he could pay his college fees. Why should they struggle like that? They were obsessed with writing.

If one were to get a poem through into a magazine, one dared not ask for payment. It was considered sacrilegious to ask money for a poem. Just the fulfilment of the process of creativity was a reward… Literature is a constantly evolving process… In content, craft, style, purpose and everything it continues to evolve with the forward movement of the gigantic flux that time is, MT said.



MTaI said...

It is rightly said that books are the windows to the world. I can appreciate Mr. M.T.Vasudevan Nair's passion for books.....
One can lose as well as find oneself within the pages of a well written book!

I enjoyed reading this article Mr. Venugopal!
You must get started on that book!!!!

P. Venugopal said...

I am myself in search of that condition where creativity happens. I was enthralled by the conversation between MT and Mukundan. When Thakazhi was alive I was working in Alappuzha, near to his place. He was also my father's friend and he had a great deal of affection for me. I had often asked him to tell me the secret. He would ponder over it and say: "Eda, you should have the urge. You should want to write and write. All the time you are meeting characters who are pleading to you to be put in a story." He had also told me the importance of remaining light and free, agile, flexible, alert. He speaks not in the crude way I am putting it, but in a teasing, subtle, way...
I have had the fortune to listen to many great creative people. This the difference I have noticed between people who sublimate their talent and those of us who do not--they have passion for what they do, while we miss that passion.

How are you MTaI?

MTaI said...

The passion with which these fine gentlemen and yourself approach writing reminds me of the words of the great Chinese philosopher,Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Yes, passion for what one does, makes all the difference!

I am well, Mr Venugopal...hope all is well with you.

Take care. Be Well. Be Happy.

1900CL. said...

MTal wow that's amazing,now all we got to do is find what we have passion for or for whom.

MTaI said...

Hello Kiddy!

Finding one's passion in life is crucial. It's what spells the difference between living one's life to the fullest or merely existing!!!!

Hope all well with you!

Take care. Be Well! Be Happy!

Deepa said...

Legends .. legends .. real legends !

The same fire that propelled Abdul Kalam, M.S Subbulakshmi, M.D. Ramanathan, Raghu Dixit .. to give their best.

On a slightly different topic .. there is a legend in the making right there in TVM. His name is Anoop John. You might have met him. He left a lucrative career in US to start a free software company Zyxware. They develpop products, as well as sell hardware at a real good price. He is a Gandhian who tries to promote free software usage in schools/institutions

Balachandran V said...

The urge, yes, and then the rapping at the doors and then the gushing waters, the way the pen moves or the fingers tap at the key, simultaneously with the words forming in one's mind... Yes, its an exhilarating feeling...

P. Venugopal said...

@Deepa: Anoop John I remember meeting him once, Deepa. We have a common friend in one Arun, a free software campaigner. He struck me as a very energetic youngster.

@Balans: You are one person I know who has that passion. Your flowering season is round the corner, as soon as you come out of the bank. Four more years, isn't it?

@MTaI: You are absolutely right. Finding one's passion in life is crucial. It's what spells the difference between living one's life to the fullest or merely existing!!! I know you have great talent. Drive it with passion!

@Kiddy: No kidding!

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

ok ..
hey .. i was not involved in the Perumon disaster .. i mean I was not around the place ... I think you got me confused with someone else !

P. Venugopal said...

yes deeps, oops sorry i got confused with a comment apparently another deepa had posted just the other day on the following post in the blog of one of my good friends balan, a bank officer and an excellent writer. the following is the link:

the deepa in balan's post speaks of surviving the perumon tragedy when she was barely one-year old. i had covered the perumon tragedy for my paper...

a child's face, smiling in sleep as though dreaming of something wonderful, her curly locks of hair wet as though she has just been given a bath and was waiting for her mom to put a dry towel over her head to dry...that face is etched in my mind.

the deepa who survived the accident is not you!