Student leadership &the annual magazine

Bringing out the annual magazine has been a pet project in my teaching career. I had not done much of work for the college magazine, when I was a student and I deeply regretted it.

Then there was this deep deep desire and longing to be a columnist, a writer and to have my writings appear in the newspapers of our times.

Since my efforts to enter Indian Institution of Mass Communication was squashed due to my lack of preparedness to answer questions with confidence in the interview round, I decided not to try again, no I was advised strongly against taking up this very unsafe career.

In the hindsight, I have no regrets about not having taken up journalism as a career but the desire to present and get acknowledgements for students efforts at expression perhaps stemmed from these thoughts and experiences.

Eversince I started off as a true blue English teacher, I rallied around the higher offices of administration, fought with management, burnt midnight oil at the printers in my endeavour to bring out the annual magazine.

My daughter will definitely remember sleeping at the printers or playing there with her toys, till the copy was being edited and ready to print. At Agarwal Public School, where I taught in 2002- 2006, I found enthusiastic support from the student community to bring out the magazine and the newsletter which we did diligently. I remember how the founder had once suggested that he could get a message from any film actor for the magazine and I had to literally refuse it staking my job for the sake of avoiding overarching bragging.

Well! later at Presidency School, Bangalore East, again I rallied my students and we prepared the sample quite a few times but somehow it never got the support it should have had, to see the light of the day. The student editors were disappointed to say the least!

At Presidency University, though I am not a part of the English Department, I was assigned to take up the task of bringing out the Annual Magazine. The students and the team of faculty consisting primarily of yours truly and Gopal Sir, brought out the first edition of the annual magazine feeling euphoric about the achievement. When the second edition had to come out, a new set of enthusiastic and committed students joined the students affairs department, which I was then entrusted to manage as Assistant Dean, and the efforts the students put in was consistent and topclass.

Infact, all the creatives, all the reports, the preparations and everything else was so well managed by the members of the students community who took any challenge with an unmatched enthusiasm and peformed every task with great finesse.

So the 2019-20 magazine kind of took shape but went through a long period of gestation before it could reach our hands.

When it did, it was something worthwhile to hold in hand, read and recollect.

The team who spearheaded the task included Sufiyan, Hariharan, Hannan and Sakshi and received lots of support from the members of other clubs.

Some skill sets develop better outside the classroom in the process of brain storming, organization, execution and introspection, so I am sure it must have been for the youngsters who pitched their efforts to make the students affairs a happening place.

A bit of encouragement and support can do wonders to the youth and can help them place themselves as accomplished and talented individuals in the society. We really need to get our youth engaged at every level in the society and that should augur well for our collective future.

University magazines and student talents

Kolkatta Ahoy!

It is been on my mind for sometime, nay, years, the deep desire to move, observe and travel places at my own pace.

Finding courage, convenience and other essentials for the same was somehow was not happening.

But then, the universe has a way of letting one realise one’s aspirations, so before I knew I had said yes to travel to attend a wedding of a dear girl, yes, even amidst the pandemic.

But life doesnot present opportunities again and again, and to be invited to a special event with such love and euphoria is an experience in itself, if in the past, I dared not to step out, in fear of censure and ridicule, it is not so anymore, so I venture boldly and say, ‘Kolkatta ahoy’ in the style of Ishmael in Moby Dick, that timeless classic on whale hunting…

We were discussing how we train and teach boldness, yet when it comes to our personal choices and lives, we are exceptionally hesitant, that’s hypocrisy, right?, or something to this effect in our lady group.

So, we said, let’s try walking the lane and practice what we so often advice, perhaps we may end up wiser!

Besides one realises that it is more difficult to live by one’s own terms than succumbing to the social norms to which one conforms willy-nilly.

Definitely the lady group is abuzz with talk of travel,figurative and otherwise, the ship is ready to sail….just that the sailsmen should be kindred souls… it looks to be so ..as of now.

actors All

Aren’t we all actors?, he said sagely, just that some people have made it a profession.

We were discussing roles and social expectations of ways of living, relationships, work, religions, hobbies and everything else, when my friend quipped sofltly in a mood of reflection. As I explore conversations and sharing, I realise more and more that great relationships inside or outside marriage are mostly a mirage,or at the least rather rare. I listen eagerly and respect the sharing because there is defintely a need to hear and be heard.

I made a friend who loves banter and soon I got addicted to wit and nonsense in equal measure which formed the staple of our conversation. Soon enough though I realised that I was becoming needy and attention seeking. I knew I could excuse myself on the ground of loneliness and other such sad faced expressions, but it was clear to me that all I was doing was ask for attention, like a cribbing child.

I told my good friend to help me get over this whining phase in silence; affections or friendships need not and should not be imposing, should they? If tied down and burdened with expectations, they would die an unnatural death, early too!

That does leave me with myself, which is good and bad in equal measure, because with the pressure of research, I am often pressed to share a lighter moment or two though mostly, I am focussed inward.

I was also thinking of my reluctance to get back to work after the ceasura, a short break or sabbatical, and like the proverbial school boy I was refusing to walk to university, like a snail!

A young voice then asked me to introspect, ‘ so you have not forgotten of someone walking out on responsibililities and how you struggled with it? Work does help, just get back to it’.

Yes, I thought so too, despite my attachment to research, I should definitely get back to work ,after all, haven’t I come this far!

Work or no work, friend or no friend, the basic principle of contentment, is all about self acceptance, rest can be managed, most of it atleast.

Busy sky

It’s sometime since the sky spoke

I ask of him his whereabouts

Being reluctant to speak

he mumbled

‘its in rains that I am most busy’

there is life to bloom

ponds to fill and pain to erase

I have to watch the raindrops

as sometimes she, the earth

is too fragile to hold my love

she never sheds a tear or lets out a murmur

her quickening breath or her sweating forehead

is my cue to hold, release and let go at times

besides, there are her children who look to me

in hope , despair sometimes in love or in prayer

I am here, there and everywhere

and its best that you walk to me

than I come to you

besides who knows what you can hold?’

He laughed loudly.

Of flow

I am thinking of energies that flow in and out, when people meet, converse, interact, engage. Some energies sync or synergize and some dont, relationships, friendships must be those energies which seem to draw on eachother and grow. So they flourish and grow over a period of time despite barriers, despite obstacles of any kind.

Yet we all try to connect to one another because our lives sort of force us to reach out and seek energies that help us to grow and bond.

So it is with my dear friend Soniya. I think of our friendship which has grown over many decades and how when we speak to eachother we overcome barriers of time, geography and we connect always as two girls who met in school and still meet. When I meet or talk to Soniya, Sofiya, Deepak, Aditi,Sheena, Sudha, Anwar, Naveen, Suvedi, Unni, Maya, BP……the connect is so quick and so instant that we just get into the groove without waiting for formalities. I am sure we all have such buddies who we treasure as they bring a smile to our faces no matter what.

Sometimes in our spirits’ desire to connect and grow we keep reaching out to souls but we may also sense a barrier or two in doing the same. These barriers could be ego ,some small misunderstandings, difference of opinion, differences in lifestyles.

What do we do in such cases? We just have to go with the flow and like water that hits an obstacle, change our course and continue to flow.

If that is the case then what are rejections, unrequited love,broken relationships, broken friendships and so on, they are nothing but small obstacles in our paths to sustain our spirit’s desire to connect and grow like roots do perhaps.

I remember someone speaking about being like water, ‘water indeed, with deep rooted memories, yet an ability to change course and a flexibility to change shape even!’

So is it that the ebb and flow of energies is what sustains our life?

of friendship

പുഴ പറയാത്തത്

നീണ്ടു നിവർന്നു കിടക്കണം
ഇടക്കൊന്നു എഴുന്നേറ്റു നടക്കണം
പറ്റുമെങ്കിൽ ഒന്നോടി നോക്കണം
ഇത്രൊയൊക്കെയേ ഞാൻ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നുള്ളു

എന്റെ വഴി മുടക്കുന്ന
എന്നെ തളച്ചിടാൻ മാത്രം ശ്രമിക്കുന്നവരോട്
ഞാൻ എന്ത് പറയാൻ എന്ത് ചോദിയ്ക്കാൻ

മലയും കടന്നു പുൽമേടുകൾ താണ്ടി
ഞാൻ പുറപ്പെടുന്നത് എന്തിനാണെന്ന്
അവർക്കറിയില്ലല്ലോ

ഉൾവിളിക്കൾ കേൾക്കാൻ മറന്ന
ആകാശത്തോടു ഗർവിക്കുന്ന
ഭൂമിയോടു ധാർഷ്ട്യം കാണിക്കുന്ന
മരങ്ങളോട് പുച്ഛം പുലർത്തുന്ന ഇവർ എന്ത് മനസ്സിലാക്കാൻ

ചേർന്ന് ഇരിക്കാൻ ഒരു കടലുണ്ടായിരുന്നെഗിൽ
ഇത്ര ദൂരം ഞാൻ യാത്ര ചെയ്യുമായിരുന്നോ

The Yam People

The yam trees stood tall and proud

in neat lines dressed in military green

against the rain and the winds

and dreamt of going deeper into the earth

unaware of the banyans and the peepals

the bending jackfruit trees or the coconut bearers

beneath the yam trees grew a yam people

walking with care in the rains

worried of deep furrows and puddles nay ponds

and then a yam child running naked in the rains

ran beneath a yam tree for shelter when

the pounding rains deepened the ponds

the furrows and the child cried loud

a old yam man ran out of his home

with a few youngsters in tow

to lift a grass blade and put it across the furrow

the little boy ran back to safety smiling

the mother wiped her tears

faraway in the skies the banyan and the jackfruit

caught each others glances and laughed aloud

a few leaves fell and the yam men ran back to their homes

their dreams were fragile so was their homes yet the hearts were strong

but the men and women above moved on as if nothing happened

It was a world they never knew of or will ever know.

Living

Time will not numb a pain

that is all too raw

it will sidestep it with

new experiences

and newer pains

and give other hurts

to nurse and lookafter

but till our time together again

we will think of you

and an ache deep will grow

in our hearts and reach our eyes

that will be so forever.

Ps: Balraj.K, brother forever

ആത്മഗതം

ഒരേ ചരടിൽ ചേർത്ത ജീവിതങ്ങൾ
വേർപിരിയാൻ വെമ്പുന്ന ആത്മാക്കൾ
കാലത്തിന്റെ കുരുക്കിൽ വീണ്ടും വീണ്ടും
വരിഞ്ഞ് മുറുക്കപ്പെടുമ്പോൾ
മുറിവേൽക്കുന്നതു ആർക്കാണ്

ആത്മാവിന്റെ നൊമ്പരം കഥകളിലൂടെയും
കവിതക്ളിലൂടെയും പറയുന്നവർ
ഒളിക്കുന്നതു എന്താണ്
ആരെയാണവർ പേടിക്കുന്നത്

കൂട്ടിൽ പെട്ട കിളികളെ പോലെ
സ്വന്തം ചിറക്കുകളെ കത്രിക്കുന്നവർ
എന്തിനാണ് സ്വയം നൊമ്പരപ്പെടുത്തുന്നത്
സ്വന്തം പീഡനത്തിലൂടെ ആരെയാണ്അവർ
മുറിവേല്പിക്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്നത്

ആകാശം താണ്ടി വരുന്ന സ്നേഹ സന്ദേശങ്ങൾ
അവരിൽ മാത്രം എത്താന് മടിക്കുന്നത് എന്ത് കൊണ്ടാണ്
കാറ്റിന്റെ മര്മരവും പക്ഷികളുടെ ചിലമ്പലും
അവരിൽ അലോരസം ഉളവാക്കുന്നതെന്തു കൊണ്ടാണ്

പകുതി പാടി നിർത്തിയ പാട്ടും
തീരാത്ത ദുഖവും എന്തിനാണ്
അവർ മറ്റുള്ളവർക്ക് സമ്മാനിക്കുന്നത്
അവർക്കു പറയാനുള്ള കഥകൾ ആരും കേട്ടില്ല എന്നായിരിക്കുമോ

Winding up

A sense of winding up has entered me and a restlessness that comes with it. Perhaps it is the reality that its time to get back to work or that I have to move out of this island of tranquility here at Kopparambil, away from the pouring rain, the orchestra of crickets and the sweet clamour of birds chirping away in a life of great busyness.

I am drawn to this place more than ever and to its ambience of calm remoteness, that the very thought of it is soothing to my heart.

Yet, work is there to complete. The research has to be wound up, completed, processes to be followed.

Then, perhaps then, a life here of writing, training, some travelling and of making ice creams, yes, loads and loads of ice creams,home made and ready to be sold, hmmm… that sounds inviting somehow, very appealing and it is just early morning and I am back to dreaming!

That picture sort of appeals to me. A few years back I fancied being a cab driver, that should be great fun or so I thought, to whiz past the city and have some good conversation, will it be good always, hmmm maynot be so, still it is worth a try. I was tempted really, still am.

Then it was to sell cookies and coffee, which I kind of do well I guess. So, a cafe with books to read and a lady of some reading as company should be a cool idea. So I thought and I still do.

Now its the ice cream that I want to make, loads of it, then dance classes to run and to attend too, lots of writing, some training and the birds chirping and the crickets busy at their orchestra, sounds interesting…. well, life has always sprung surprises, so I can merely give suggestions, after all its is for Him to dispose!

But the break has been good. It was great to be the kid who appreciates the blessings of pampering by parents. It was great to be allowed to sit and read and write and be taken care of. It was great to listen to stories, my childhood, his childhood, what they did, how they did, there we went, there we did not go and how it all happened… stories galore!

Mostly the abundance of a village home, of plenty of jack fruits, mangoes, guava, tapioca, all sorts of berries and greens which cross fences and reach your dining table, in an eagerness to be consumed and well appreciated for being who they are and the constant jostling of parents, ‘look at him’, ‘see, this is how he is’ and then the little things you do that seem to make their lives easy, add this contact, shut this noise, book that, visit the atm, buy this medicine, call that person, somehow making you feel somewhat useful and rather important.

But now its is time to pack up!!!

And I am hugely reluctant!!! Life!!!