LIFE

A `floating' literary event

Perfect setting!

Perfect setting!  

Afloat in the backwaters under an open sky, the soft sea breeze wafting around... ideal setting for a meeting of creative minds.

But, the creative minds gathered on board the tourist boat, `Vasco da Gama,' for the programme, `Katha Yathra,' in Kochi last week were in a lukewarm mood in the beginning. Nobody seemed too eager to plunge straight into a literary discourse. As if finding the surrounding charm too engrossing. Or, uncertain at this new experience of meeting on a boat and discussing literature!

There were the well known and the not-so-well- known among the faces around. "More writers than ever seen for a programme on solid ground," commented someone. The lure of the backwaters, perhaps, added someone else.

Officiating unofficially over the ceremonies, the writer, George Joseph K., pleaded as the boat glided away from the Marine Drive Walkway: "Please, do be brief. We have only one hour..."

K.G. George, the film maker, who had handed over to the poet Rosemary, a copy of the new book, Njanum Ente Ishta Kathapathrangalum, by Tony Chittettukalam, expressed his joy at seeing so many writers together. And extolled the organisers of the trip for this "different experience."

More compliments followed. Rosemary found the trip a real balm to her bored soul, something that would melt away the frost like sunlight. The writer, Gracy, who had handed over a book, Priya Katha, to Mundur Krishnankutty, did not say much. Mr. Krishnankutty expressed the hope that the `different' nature of this function would reflect in the functioning of the organisers, Pranatha Books, too.

It went on, until Balachandran Vadakkedath broke the ice. Brandishing the book, Priya Katha, the cover of which sported the image of a human being, all curled up and taped from head to toe, he said: "Isn't this the state of our writers in Malayalam? They are all asleep, curled up and secure. Let's only hope at least this journey over the backwaters would bring them back to wakefulness."

At last there was a ripple. P.F. Mathews shot up: "Our critics, on the other hand, pretend not to have seen even the wide awake writer. They don't care for us at all. They are concerned only with `isms', like post modernism, Bah!"

And a little while later, another young writer, Johnny Miranda, joined forces. "The critics spare no time for young writers. They go on celebrating dated writers like T. Padmanabhan!"

K.Gireesh Kumar, another young writer, commented that the sleeping figure (on the book cover) might be asleep due to despair. M.V. Benny said at least a handful of good stories are being produced every year. The writer, Narayan, advised the organisers to be a bit more careful while planning such programmes, which might burn a hole in their pockets. He said he was glad to see so many writers, who usually do not look each other in eye sitting together.

A contingent of speakers followed, including Joseph Vyttilla, A.K.Puthussery, Socrates Valath, M.K.Chandrasekharan, T.B.Lal, Thomas Jacob, Samad Panayappilly, Joseph Panakkal, Baby, Shyju, Kilirur Babu, P.I. Sankaranarayanan, Sandhya, M.M.Menon, Joseph, Sivaprasad and many others.

Thomas Joseph, winner of this year's V.P. Sivakumar Smaraka Keli Puraskaram, was honoured by T.M. Abraham, vice chairman of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi.

And before the conclusion, a young journalist lashed out at the telling absence of the writers' fraternity at the funeral of the late publisher, Shelvy, at Kozhikode.

The boat drifted slowly along the Bolghatty, till the new Goshree bridge under construction, and back to the High Court Jetty. The evening was over too soon.

By Renu Ramanath

Photo: H. Vibhu

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