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For some reason, I really love the beginning scenes of the movie Tangled. The screen visualization and the audio are simple amazing. These days, I really relish seeing this again and again, especially the starting scene and the songs. Thanks Disney for such a wonderful movie!

The Jnanapith award for the year 2007 was announced in 2010. What a coly cow is this? What on earth is going to be the explanation for this 4 years of delay? Anyway, the 2007 Jnanapith award (for 2007 – Jnanpith Award Announced on 24th September 2010) quite deserving went to one of the great poets of India. This year’s Jnanapith award went to ONV. I am sure, the first reaction many of us had was “it came late. But better to be later than never”.

Growing up in Kerala, ONV was very much a house hold name. Who can forget his poem “Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham” (A Requiem to Mother Earth), which we were exposed during high school Malayalam language class. The poem was written 30 years or earlier and it is in Malayalam. I am not sure whether there is an English translation out there somewhere, but the poet’s pain is in much similar pain as echoed by the girl who presented a thought provoking talk at UN summit in 2008.

One of my friend pointed me to some of the recent Malayalam documentaries, which included one on Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham. Unfortunately I never got to see them. Hopefully, one of these days, I will get access to them. If any of you have access please don’t forget to share.

After Neruda (one of the greatest poet of all time, in my book), the first name come to me from Peru is Vargas Llosa. South American writers are always special, for their sheer brilliance in writing. Gabríel Garcia Márquez, Llosa’s contemporary from the Spanish speaking continent,  is more known (who is one of my all time favourite), but the latter is no less in literary genius. So, a well deserved Nobel laureate. New York Times has published a nice report on this year’s literature Nobel.

On  a sunny Lausanne morning, I woke up much later than usual. A game of cricket last evening had its due share in settling my body parts and indirectly in this wake up delay as well. I was all excited to re start working on the one sided set constraint problem which I pondered about a little the other day. After a routine coffee, decided to check Indian newspapers on line and the first news said Kamala Suraiyya’s passed away. To most of us, especially the ones associated with Kerala, she is the one and only Madhavikutty known to outside world as Kamala das. A name change and a religion hop didn’t really bother a secular Malayali. However the truth remains that, she was easily one of the most misread, misinterpreted writers of this generation.

I have not read a lot of Madhavikutty’s major works. That is a shame, I must accept. But I remember reading many short stories of hers, published in magazines, newspaper supplements and weeklies. One of the stories I still remember is  Punnayoorkulam where she touchingly depicts the life of a poor servant. Other short stories instantly coming to my mind are chandana marangal (Sandal wood trees, ചന്ദന മരങ്ങള്‍) and Pakshiyude maNam (Smell of a bird, പക്ഷിയുടെ മണം).  Her story telling style was unique; most notably with her precise and careful selection of words. It is incredible that she could write so well in both Malayalam and English. Not many people know that she was nominated for Nobel prize in 1984.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to know much of her English works other than a collection of short stories titled Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories , which I happened to read sitting inside a book store in Trivandrum during the summer of 1996. That was an experience of some sort. I didn’t have money to buy books then. I used to spend a lot of time inside the book store (thankfully they allowed that) and spend nearly the whole day there. In two days of a week I could read quite a lot. I had restricted visits to two days a week to pretend that I was not exploiting that facility. Nevertheless, over a period, I had befriended with some of the shop guys and they politely let me enjoy this habit, realizing that I was a mere student who couldn’t afford to buy anyway.

Her life and works were dragged into so much controversy. I am not sure whether that helped her to increase the readership. I personally think she was an incredible writer who didn’t need these controversies to claim fame and readership. Her autobiography and the frank style of telling stories created public attention. Perhaps it came at a time when it was unusual for an Indian woman to be that open to express her emotions and life. I do not know much into that controversy, other than learning that it had some. I did not read her autobiography either to judge whether it had some explosive presentation of vivid emotions of a woman. Anyhow, such was her life. Some people would remember purely because of such controversies. Sadly many would have failed to realize the pure writing talent of such a bilingual writer, one of the best Kerala produced. Her death will surely create a void, considering that the language writing has become so thin these days.

Many people in Kerala were surprised when she converted her religion in the last stretch of her life. It was not because of the religion she chose to or the one she was born into. It was more because of the fact that she chose to give importance to latching onto a religion for keeping piece with her life. Anyway, that was her personal choice and everyone accepted it, period.

Madhavikutty’s departure is a big loss. May her soul rest in peace. I leave you with this documentary on Kamala das by Ignou:

Over the weekend, I finished reading a very nice book, The Kite runner, by Khaled Khosseini, an Afghan born novelist. This is first of his books, that I have read. In fact this is his first book as well. The book is written in an easy story telling style, but he did an amazing job to make me really satisfied. There were echoes of pain and suffering and the realization that the fate of a nation and its people can sometimes be so cruelly altered by invasion of other nations. Ofcourse that is a starting point. Later on the so called protectors of God then take over and make an even more mess where humanity is let to shame. Well, we can go on and debate those issues which unfortunately is affecting like cancer to human society as a whole, across the world.

Coming back to the book: The story The Kite runner is the story of two young boys Amir and Hassen. The setup is in Afghanistan, where these boys are born and spent their childhood. Amir was born in an affluent family, but his mother dies immediately after his birth. Ali, a servant to Amir’s father (baba) and his wife have a son named Hassan. On strikingly similar terms, after Hassen was born, his mother elope with someone, leaving him too motherless. The two kids are growing up together. Hassen lives in a hut in Amir’s mansion, baba’s house as he often refers to as. Baba (amir’s dad) loves both these boys, but Amir finds he being more critical to him than Hassan. Youn Amir thinks that baba’s attitude is perhaps due to the fact that Amir is indirectly responsible for his wifes (Amir’s mother) death (she dies after Amir’s birth). Baba’s friend Rahim Khan however is more lenient and friendly to Amir, and he provide support and encouragement to young Amir to develop interest in writing stories.

Amir and Hassen grows up together, with Amir as the lead boy and Hassen more submissive and obedient friend. The Russian invasion to Afghanistan then changes their life forever. Amir find himself as an immigrant in California, whereas Hassan forced to take a route to Pakistan. Fate shows the cruel flip to Hassen and he dies. Years later Amir take a difficult trip down east to rescue Hasan’s son, all in the middle of the Taliban reign. A tocuh of unrealistic melodrama where Amir fights with the brutal Talibans, but that afar the story is incredibly nice and touching to the reader. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

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