An evening when words held centre stage

Two women linked by their creative pursuits were celebrated at the ongoing DC Book Fair and Cultural Festival. Dubbing artiste Bhagyalakshmi’s eventful life encapsulated in her autobiography Swarabhedangal and poet Vijayalakshmi’s collection Jnanamagdalena, both published by DC Books, were released recently.

The written word reigned that evening, proving its ability to anger, caress, tease, provoke, move and make one laugh. Bhagyalakshmi’s voice, even when setting aside its professional identity, is a significant one, said scriptwriter Deedi Damodaran.

By living boldly a life marred by loneliness, abandonment and incessant struggle, Bhagyalakshmi hoped hers could be a motivation for any ordinary girl, anywhere. “Why do we get shattered by small things? That’s when I thought I should write my life,” she said.

Saying it all

Autobiographies are not easy, asserted Bhagyalakshmi and Deedi. Baring it all is tougher for women, they noted, drawing attention to Kamala Das’ My Story, which the author had to call fictitious in the face of criticism. “Unlike Madhavikutty, there has been no enduring shade in Bhagyalakshmi’s life,” said Deedi.

“She is moulded by fire and the scorching sun. I am sure she will never disown what she has written.”

“I am determined not to retract,” agreed Bhagyalakshmi. If there were elements that were held back in chapters talking about her troubled marriage and subsequent divorce, it was to respect the emotions of the other person involved, she said. As a mother who single-handedly raised her two sons, Bhagyalakshmi said her greatest triumph was when her son sponsored two children soon after getting a job.

Introducing Vijayalakshmi, poet Alankode Leela Krishnan wondered if she has yet been read the way she should be. “She represents a vital tradition of Malayalam women poets, beginning with Balamani amma through Sugathakumari to Vijayalakshmi. We cannot read her poems with a single key,” he said. Vijayalakshmi’s Jnanamagdalena bears the imprints of her search within as a woman and a poet, she said. “It is my search in silences, through darkness and light and finding light in darkness,” she said. She treasures her solitude and considers it vital for her creative nourishment. “Consider me a yam plant, which lives under the earth, spouts suddenly and then wilts again.”

A.D. Madhavan’s compilation of Rabindranath Tagore’s songs 101 Rabindra Geethangal was released on the same day. The audience also got to enjoy poetry of different moods as poets Balachandran Chullikkad, P.P. Ramachandran, Veerankutty and Rafeeque Ahamed recited their creations. Young girls being molested by their own spurred Chullikkad to write “Yakshaprashnam” and “Prabhatham” in anguish and he recited them poignantly. Ramachandran’s “Kazhakam” took one into the subtleties of satire and Veerankutty and Ahamed celebrated the little things and vital moments, some between life and death, with sparkling originality.