The hall was packed to capacity last Friday evening (February 1). The occasion was the book release of Ammu Nair’s biography of the child prodigy, the late Clint, A Brief Hour of Beauty. Edmund Thomas Clint, a prolific painter, was six years and 11 months-old when he died leaving behind close to 25,000 paintings.
It was a bitter-sweet evening, one peppered with memories and searing soul searching. Prof. M. K. Sanu and M. V. Devan lamented the loss of a genius too soon. Devan suggested opening a space dedicated to the works of Clint, an area that incorporates technology to showcase the paintings.
Writer Sreekumari Ramachandran and writer-teacher Jayasree Sukumaran spoke about the literary qualities of the book. Sreekumari Ramachandran expressed regret at not being able to meet Clint all those years back and a sense of loss at the missed opportunity.
Veteran journalist K.M. Roy congratulated Ammu on the elaborate description of Kochi, an oft forgotten presence and a city with a rich history and, of course, the book about his one-time neighbours, the Josephs. Artist K. Balasubrahmanian spoke about his interaction with Clint on the couple of occasions that he met him and of his acquaintance with the late Mohanan, who was closely associated with Clint.
Artist T. Kaladharan made a confession, of a time when he was judging a drawing competition with the late artist Chikoo and Sathyan V. Clint’s painting was not chosen for the first prize, “the painting was way beyond what a child that age could do.” Little did they know, then, that those were the works of a child prodigy. These and other nuggets of information fleshed out the memories of Clint.
However, what was missing was a photograph of Clint. A child in the audience was heard asking, “Why is everyone saying Clint? What is Clint? Is that a person?” Since the book would serve as an introduction to Clint to a new generation, it was an oversight that could have been avoided. That was a detail which the organisers should have paid attention to and taken care not to miss, after all it was the release of a person’s biography.
Ammu Nair was the last to take the stage and in her vote of thanks she graciously acknowledged everyone who helped her and spoke about the writing of the book.
Clint’s parents, Joseph and Chinnamma, stayed away from the podium and sat among the invitees, quietly taking in all that was being said about their little boy. Joseph said it was a decision that they took, after all “we are his parents and if we were on the podium it would have…emotion would have gotten the better of us. It was Ammu’s day and we did not want to take the attention away from her and the book.” The book release was followed by a sale of books, which were sold like the proverbial hot cakes. The book, published by Fingerprint, priced at Rs. 295 is also available online.
The first copy of the book was given by Prof. M.K. Sanu to M.V. Devan. The other guests at the event included Dr. Sebastian Paul, who was chief guest, and journalist P. P. Mathew.