When I was growing up, one of the writers I had read with trepidation was Mohanachandran- the one who wrote the terrifying Kalika and Kakkakulade Rathri. These, if I remember right, were serialised in Kumkumam magazine. That magazine arrived erratically, whenever Amma brought it home from her office library. With the uncontrollable temptation that urges a child to stare into a deep, deadly well, I would guiltily read Mohanachandran’s words. A cold hand would catch hold of my throat and I would sit quietly and shiver. Yet, I would read.
Much later, when I read the books, I still ensured that they was bright sunlight outside. Such is the power of the writing: these can easily compete with the Cambridge don M.R.James’ best horror stories. Tantra, Devi Pooja, ancient death and life rites, brilliant characters, their mutual attractions, innocent children and great danger…It was an incredible cocktail which could throw the most sober among us into a tizzy.
Why did I remember Mohanachandran suddenly? A seemingly simple story with underlying threads of deep insight. ‘ Chitrasutram’ by V.J.James.
Beautifully, it links learning, painting, a mysterious death and a talented child. The pictures the boy draws point to unassailable truths. The description of those pictures, brought the creeping dread of Mohanachandran’s books to my memory again.
Wrought with deep compassion, the story seemed serendipitous because it had a discussion on why a picture comes to life when the eyes are drawn last of all! Maybe because the translation project , which I am currently engaged in, is based on the same theme; and also has a precocious child who can ‘see’ deeply inspite of handicaps, I felt very awed. Perhaps, I was meant to pick up this book and read this story. Another quiet miracle.
What do the books say? When you are blessed, speak about it.