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‘Basheer had a prophetic vision’

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TRIBUTE: Stories of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer being read out at a site in the city where the author ran a bookshop. The reading was organised as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Basheer.
TRIBUTE: Stories of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer being read out at a site in the city where the author ran a bookshop. The reading was organised as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Basheer.

Staff Reporter

His humanism transcended institutionalised religion: Balachandran Chullikad

Tributes paid to Basheer on his birth centenary

‘His works retain an air of originality’

KOCHI: Like Nietzsche and Rumi, works by Vaikom Mohammed Basheer offer new possibilities of meaning at every new reading. That is the sign of his greatness, said writer Kakkanadan.

He was inaugurating the birth centenary celebrations of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, organised by the Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishad at Mahakavi G. Auditorium here on Saturday.

His works take us back to childhood; they have the charm to appeal to a 12-year-old as well as a grown-up serious reader.

Works by Basheer grow with the readers as their canvas of reading and thought widens, said writer Sethu. Even after so many changes in Malayalam literature, Basheer’s works retain an air of originality.

All original works get completed in the mind of the reader, he said.

Beneath the exceptional humour that was Basheer’s stamp, there was a brimming up of angst and sorrow. Normal yardsticks for measuring classics, which require big stories with many characters, grand schemes and conflicts in storyline, were not applicable to Basheer who wrote small books about great lives, Mr. Sethu said.

Basheer’s language had a blood-tie to the colloquial tongue and his humour should be subjected to detailed research, said poet Chemmanam Chacko.

The characters created by Basheer moved with revolutionary thoughts, but with no apparent manifestation of them. The language used by these characters could not be bracketed to classifications of regional dialects, said District Collector A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish.

Basheer communicated powerfully even through silence in his works. By creating characters like Ettukali Mammoonju, who claims responsibility for unwanted pregnancies, Basheer was evolving a prototype of a typical Malayali psyche that is applicable even at present. In that sense, it could even be said that Basheer had a prophetic vision, Mr. Hanish said.

It was not the journeys that Basheer made physically, but those that he made in his mind that made him a great writer among good writers, said poet and actor Balachandran Chullikad. Basheer’s humanism was based on a religious vision that placed man as one among the many components of this universe. It transcended institutionalised religion, he said.

And that is why, Basheer wrote that ‘life is an endless prayer.’ He realised that humanity existed candidly among people who lived outside the social norms. Basheer had experienced creativity and death in its raw shades and this lent a new dimension to his works.

Being a great writer, Basheer could convert what he wrote to experience of the reader. Theories are created on the basis of literature and not the other way. Great literature always goes beyond contemporary theories, he said.

Experiences that Basheer had in his real life were weirder and stranger than the life he had portrayed in his works, said critic M.N. Karassery, who had a long association with the master-writer.

In the evening, the programme organised by District Library Council and Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (C-HED), Kochi Corporation had an emotional touch as a reading of Basheer’s stories was held on the temporary stage set up before the line of shops where Basheer had run a bookstore.

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