Moonlight Splendour


Chandramathy, Professor of English and bilingual writer of rare wit and verve, I admire deeply. Somewhere long ago, I read about her trying  to get an appointment with Harold Pinter,  at his residence. Apparently ‘ Moonlight’ was being dramatised in town, and she had tried to explain that her name was synonymous with Pinter’s Classic! I quite forget the denouement.

In Mathrubhumi’s July 11 issue, is her satirical short story, ” Ningal Nireekshanathillanu” aka ” You are under observation”! The irony dripping from her pen is scathing, exposing the warts of the hypocritical society- the rot, literally thrown up. I enjoyed the story and ruminated over how her style of writing has changed over the years.

In the collection of her stories, ” Chandramathyude Kathakal”, published by DC Books for the first time in 2009, the writer blooms under the loving gaze of her reader.

From stories of Devigramam, women searching for understanding, her stories of 80s have changed shape and hue as she traverses modern times. ” Bonsai”, for example is a pithy little shocker! ( 1993).

But my gaze remained on ” Kavithayude Katha” ( Story of a poem) as she beautifully portrays the dual world of men and women and their aspirations. As Sushma, the ubiquitous housewife writes a poem, daring to dream and reach out to a vital flame in her heart, the parallel world of the man is revealed.  The poem gets destroyed in the end, and  as she steps to greet her normal life, I thought that this story is timeless- across countries, across ages, across genres. It is written with remarkable ” kaiyothukkam” as we call it in my mother tongue- with exemplary word control and brevity.

I could relate it to the YouTube hit ” Moonamidam”, relate it to the present age of easy access to forbidden frontiers. ” What”, I found myself wondering, ” if Sushma were to be living today- with means to reach out? Would she still put the phone down, after listening to a voice at the other end and shut down memories of a rain filled day? ”

Now that, would make another beautiful short film.

Chandramathy , Professor and writer, is also a survivor. She battled cancer and won the fight. A perceptive story, about that time, when apparent well wishers flooded her with their false sympathies stand starkly apart in that compilation. “Negative Energy”, is full of deeply pained laughter. The reader cannot laugh, for she is choked up by the reality of it all. It happens everyday, in everyone’s life.

The simplicity of this moonlight splendour, I adore. I wish it will grace our lives, for a long, long time with its divine aura.


2 thoughts on “Moonlight Splendour

  1. Kind of unrelated to the above post. But was very profound so thought of sharing.

    On Joy and Suffering…

    “I feel tremendously grateful for the training I had in the retreat centers and forest monasteries, and the kind of initiation that it offered. I was able to enter into that ancient world of the Elders that has been carried on for 2,500 years – the austere practices and surrender they require.

    When I first arrived in the forest monastery of Ajahn Chah, he looked at me and said, “I hope you’re not afraid to suffer.” I said, “What do you mean, afraid to suffer?” And he said, “There are two kinds of suffering: the suffering that you run away from, which follows you everywhere, and the suffering that you are willing to turn and face and thereby find the liberation that the Buddha taught for us all.” That was his opening sentence.”

    ~ Jack Kornfield
    “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
    ~ Walt Whitman

    For me it is beautiful to see the difference and also the similarity between what Ajahn Chah asked and what Walt Whitman shared.

    “I hope you are not afraid to suffer?”

    “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”

    Perhaps this polarity is best summarized by Khalil Gibran…

    On Joy and Sorrow

    Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

    And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

    And how else can it be?
    The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

    And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

    When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

    Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”

    But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
    Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

    Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

    Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
    When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.


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