Her Favourite Stories: (Translation of Vatsalaji’s Preface)

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Ente Priyappetta Kathakal: Preface to her favourite stories

Translated From Malayalam

***

When I admit that certain stories of mine are dear to me, it is akin to admitting that I love one child much more than the others -among my  own children. Among stories, each differs from the other in terms of ‘craft’.

Every story is the preface to the life experience it holds within. That is because the space inside a story is restrictive. That which is unsaid is more than what is said. Consequently, some readers query – whether the story actually ended with the end of narrative. The truth is that every story ends in the mind of the reader.

The writer is a creator only when the story is being told. It is similar to human life. The poor fellow moves forward with certain aims: but what happens finally is beyond his control. Neither his desires nor his wishes have much role to play in it. I believe in ‘reaping what one sows.’

My beloved stories are those which were written when the mind was at its creative peak. Certain coincidences were the deciding factors of such experiences.

Let me elucidate on the process of conception of certain stories. ‘Panguru’ is a flower. It is seen at the Karnataka border of Tirunelli.I have never seen it with my eyes. Yet, I know a forest-healer, who made me feel its living presence. He is a vaidyan ( healer ) by tradition. When I met him, he used to disappear into the forests- not simply to gather medicinal herbs, but because he had nothing better to do.

He arrived at my cottage by the forest side, after such a wild sojourn. Just to see me. One cannot expect such gestures of affection in today’s city life. That is why I banish myself into the forests occasionally.

The young healer had the gift of narrating tales. Typically they were about his facing the wild tuskers. All fancies. Randomly there would be a gleam of truth. Once he narrated about climbing the Panguru creeper- while escaping from an elephant. His story would usually stretch into a series of stories. The cost would be around two hours of my time.

The Panguru blooms in spring. The creeper- thick as a human hand- climbs the most magnificent of the trees around. It will ascend to the very top on its quest to touch the sun. There it will burst into blossoms. It resembles the flowers of a palmyra tree. In our culture, the palmyra tree flowers are symbolic of a yakshi’s tresses. ( yakshi: a gorgeous and lethal female spirit). From this spark , my story was born. From a phantasmagoric seed sprouted a phantasmagorical story. Many years later- while reading a Kannada story- I found out that the flower in my story was actually real.

**( To be continued)

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