Thursday 28 January 2021

The Fire of Creation


Title: Mind on Fire
Author: Ar. S. Gopakumar
Publisher: D C Books

Mind on Fire is a collection of interesting anecdotes and reflections that allows a peek into Architect Gopakumar’s mind, which is constantly ablaze with creative ideas. He has something to learn from everyone he comes across, including the fisherman and the farmer. Like a poet, he draws inspiration from the little things around him. His creative drive doesn’t stop with architecture, though. It extends to finding solutions for the society’s problems, which, he says, is the ultimate purpose of a designer. The book is full of insights stated with such deceptive simplicity that their significance hits you hard and out of the blue. To quote one of the many gems a reader would come across in his writing:

“But then you should also ask yourselves how much privacy you need in a community. You have seen flats built with so much of privacy that you don’t know who your neighbour is. You can even feel lonely living in an apartment complex. Human beings are meant to live as a group or a herd, but modern society has built too many walls to segregate them from each other. Consequently, the society has become selfish, insensitive and jealous. This is what wrong planning can do to a society.”

Ar. Gopakumar’s conversational style of writing makes you feel that you are not reading the book but rather listening to the author. The author, obviously, is talking from his soul. The book is replete with sketches drawn by the author himself which enhances the experience of reading the book and makes this a unique work of art. The author, no doubt, has put his heart into these drawings. And that’s no wonder because “for him the agony and ecstasy of creation is what life is all about.” 

Thursday 21 January 2021


Christopher Andres, Philippines

There’s nothing like a sunbath the first thing in the morning. For how long can one hide under a leaf anyway? The suns so bright one’s too tempted to go over the other side and soak some of that shine. Need to keep an eye on one’s tail though. Can’t drop it too often.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]

Saturday 16 January 2021

Strings attached

Painting & Photo: Neji Ravindran

Those were the first ever kites bought for me. Perhaps those were also the last. I remember they were red, purple and green. I was around 7 years old then and had just relocated from my hometown. On the destined day, when the sky was dotted with hundreds of kites, I went up to the terrace with mine. I didn’t know how to go about flying them. I still don’t. In fact, no one at home knew how to fly a kite. I did all the basics. Holding them up so the wind will catch them, and unravelling the lines. They would fly up a few feet or so (well, that’s what I wanted to believe), and then they would come crashing down. A relative, who was staying with us, felt sorry for me. He struggled for a while trying to help me, and I felt sorry for him. After a few pathetic attempts, my kites lay around me, torn and tattered. And I quietly climbed down the terrace. Strangely enough, I was at peace. That I had tried something which I knew at the bottom of my heart was not exactly my thing. I grew up to be a master kite-flier, though. My kites being my dreams.



They were tethered to the ground. Her dreams. Like kites, they stretched far and flew high in the sky. An alien sky. They got entangled and enmeshed in umpteen other dreams. Others’ dreams. Strangled, they broke and fell in a rapid descent. And crashed. Crashed at her own feet. They lay strewn around her. Waiting, hibernating. Until new dreams sprouted in new forms and colours. With wings so light they could fly higher than the farthest kite soaring the sky. With strings so entwined they could bear the strongest winds. With tails so bright they left blazing trails. Like wish-fulfilling meteors. And they conquered her entire sky. Yes, them, those kites. Her dreams.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Time to go home

PC: Navneeth E. S.

These COVID times have been a festive time for literature. The internet has been busy with online literary festivals, reading sessions, book releases, etc. What we had thought would be a handicap turned out to be an advantage for many literature enthusiasts what with their accessibility to events they would otherwise have given a miss, and for the organizers in getting accomplished literary figures from around the world to speak at their events, all remaining, of course, in the comfort of their homes.

Among many online literary events, I could attend a session of the KLF Bhava Samvad held as part of the Kalinga Literary Festival where Anchor Niyati Bhat was in conversation with Writer Sandeep Raina, the author of A Bit of Everything. And my piece of writing here is about a thought that has been tearing me apart, a thought that arose in me after listening to the conversation between Ms. Bhat and Mr. Raina. Perhaps it’s a bit too late in the day to talk about it. Or perhaps the time is always right to express a thought that is continuing to burn in your mind. And yes, this burning thought is about timing – the right timing or the right context to return home.

The author was reading from his book, which is a story that takes place in Kashmir’s Varmull in the 1980s when violence left some of its people without their homes and the town without these people. Post the reading, which was as beautiful as it was heartrending, a viewer asks the author, ‘…who can decide when and in what circumstances can Kashmiri Pundits return to the valley?’ Well, what drove me to write this piece here is not the author’s answer to the question. It’s the question itself.

Is there a right time to go home? Or should there be one? Isn’t home a place where you can go anytime, whenever you feel like it? Perhaps when you are unhappy and disillusioned with the world in general? Perhaps when this business called life tires the life out of you? Perhaps when you are so happy that your joy knows no bounds? Isn’t it the place you go to when you want, or don’t want, to be alone? And here’s someone asking about the right circumstances to return home, and whether that should be ‘in exclusive colonies’ or ‘in mixed neighbourhoods’. And they still call it their home because they have no other. As someone rightly said, you may leave home, but home never leaves you.

What unsettles me is the thought: how pathetic a people we are that some of us have been waiting for the right time to go back, or come back, home for years, or even generations? We squabble about our real roots and true history, but what difference does it make when we are going to learn nothing from it anyway? No wonder the protagonist in the novel says, ‘Kashmir was best not explained.’ Perhaps that’s true for all the Kashmirs of this world and all those people who lost their homes or left their homes, whose homes never left them. They are best not explained.

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Still Waters

Abhishek C. Jayaprakash, Kerala

The universe seems to hold its breath. The leaves don’t move. The waters are still. The sunrays dip into their depths without as much as a crinkle. Everything is at rest. Except for the man on his daily rounds. Even his reflection is intact. The nature seems to be unaware of him.

[This microtale was written for the above photograph, which was shortlisted in the Greenstorm Nature Photography Contest 2020, and was published on the Greenstorm Foundation website.]