Reader-Response……………. when ASOKAMITRAN visted KV Minambakkam

06.05.10

2.30 p.m. A Sultry Chennai afternoon.
Madam Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, the principal of KV, Minambakkam broke the news that any reader would love to hear–
writer Asokamitran is visiting our In-service course venue at K.V. Minambakkam. For the post graduate teachers
of English in Kendriya vidyalayas, Asokamitran is a very endearing name for the extract from his book MY YEARS
WITH BOSS prescribed for class-xii titled “Poets and Pancakes”, a graphic depiction of the life and people at
Gemini studios in its days of glory. The extract is very special for the freshness of the language and the
subtle humor and wit in the portrayal. The principal sent for me and I stood in her chamber unable to believe
my eyes. He was there, the one who brought the life of Gemini studios in such visual clarity and detail that
not even a documentary would succeed in doing. I used to tell my students about the spontaneity and the urgency
in his writing and had always wished to see the writer.

Madam introduced me,

“He’s Mr. Santhosh, one of the participants for the course. He’s been after me pleading for a meeting with you.”

I shook hands with the writer. The tangibility of words! Holding my hand he walked into the conference hall.
I welcomed him on behalf of all the participants, resource persons, associate course director and the course
director. One of the participants had already projected on LCD screen a photo of the writer and of Gemini
studios. But little did we pay attention to it for long as the writer was there before us. The living presence
of the writer made the otherwise drowsy afternoon at once brisk and lively. The writer addressed us about his
compelling passion and drive for creative expression in his characteristic humor. He reminisced the days at
Gemini as teachers crowded round him with the English textbook for class XII asking him doubts about various
aspects in the lesson. His face glowed in and out by the flash of digital cameras. He urged us to read more and more.

Like the Gemini literati, he was flanked by the forty four of us for a group snap. I could see him straining during
the tedious task of penning a line in the one-after-another stretched pages before him. I am sure he would
never feel writing a strain except for this.

Before leaving, he said,
“follow the tale not the teller. I like realistic approach”.

Age could not wither his passion for literature and writing. He talked a lot about Malayalam literature with me.
We shared our liking for Anand and M. Govindan. He mentioned a few episodes of his intimacy with M. Govindan.

He said he was very happy to see such an overwhelming response from teachers. We saw him off with a feeling of
incompleteness. A strange feeling of having seen “what lies behind”. Yes, the charm lies in the tale, true sir.
I glanced through the pages of the lesson “poets and pancakes”. Yes, the tale remains in its pristine charm and mystery.

I withdrew my request to visit Gemini studios. It’s unnecessary now.

I read the line he had written for me in a page “to my reader…with best wishes”. I knew how much he valued a good
reader. No doubt, literature lives by the response from readers.
_______________

By
SANTHOSH KUMAR KANA