Creativity across clouds | Daily News

Creativity across clouds

As Confucius, the Chinese prophet, pointed out, the creativity of a culture is the mirror that reflects the sensitivity of the people who live in it. On reading the 28 short stories selected from the seven SAARC countries titled as ‘Chasing the Clouds’, I felt how true the dictum of Confucius remains to this date.

The stories are selected by a board of five eminent editors. Their details are given in the compilation. They carry a high calibre of suitability in the process. The nations from which these short stories are selected go as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The unity in diversity in the creative process is shown as the key vision in these varying types of short stories as selected from indigenous creative sources.

Original languages

The collection is published by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature wing of the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature in New Delhi, India, in 2005. Most narratives are translated from the original languages by the creators, themselves and by some others well versed in English. According to the foreword by the chairperson of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, the seven-nation organization had come into being in 1985 with the objectives of closer collaborating in all fields to help bring about betterment in the life of the people of the region through the promotion of socio-economic, cultural commercial and scientific ties among the member states.

It is in this direction that the meeting point of the creative writers got together annually in order to discuss matters relating to the creative and cultural activities of each country.

It is further stated that be it religion, language, race or creed, the colour of the skin or the feature of the face, the profession of variety that abounds across the land of the seven countries is not found anywhere in the world. The arts and kinds of literature that spring from the colourful font cannot be simply be captured in a single view of the scene.

But a unifying sentiment runs through the kaleidoscopic creativity of the people that one sees in their yearning for peace, progress and friendly co-existence. In a ‘Word With You’ by Ajeet Cour, the chairperson of the Foundation of SAARC Writers and literature of India, the compilation is visualized as a need of the hour. It is what the SAARC has been striving for since inception.

Literary expression

Though the Foundation had been engaged in the function of bringing out various collections of essays, poems, fiction and other genres of literary expression, the attempt could be well regarded as the culmination of these efforts. As Asif Frakhi, one of the compiler editors points out in the brief note titled ‘Stories of South Asia’, the people have a stock of stories and as the people do, they come in all shapes and sizes. And to each his/her own story.

Care and concern for these people give shape to the many stories. These are the ordinary people living in these countries. As observed in an analytic frame, a reader may see that the milk of human kindness flows through most of these narratives. The pains and sorrows in the lives are sensitively captured in these stories.

Take, for instance, the opening story titled as ‘Ants’ by Hunayan Ahmed. The protagonist in the narrative meets a doctor who seems to listen to the patient in order to diagnose the sickness. The doctor who is more of a psychotherapist comes to know that a patient comes to narrate the constant happening of ants that irritate his body and mind. It is a case beyond the common day-to-day event.

It is nothing but an alarming event that goes on in the following words.

“It was the monsoon, hot and humid. The bodies had decomposed and emanated repulsive smell. I took the police officer to the mango tree from where hung the bitch’s dead body. A horrifying scene awaited us. Millions of real ants clung to the corpse. It looked as if the body were covered with a red bed sheet. The same thing had happened to the girl’s body as well. The face, hands and legs were not visible at all…”

Points of view

Though the narrative looks quite gruesome and horrifying, the layer of realism and fantasy could be seen mixed into one entity. The portrayal of the character of the patient could be interpreted from different points of view. Even though the narrative could be interpreted in many modes of vision, the salient factor is the state of the sick mind of a repentant in an aftermath of a crime.

The story from India titled as ‘The Forbidden Fruit’ by Asghar Waghdad revolves around an experiment on the behaviour of lions and humans. The reader sees that lions that are caught from the jungle, when brought to the town are fed on tinned food. As time goes on, an experiment is conducted in order to see the behaviour of the lions that were caged are released in the areas of the jungle where they roamed. The experiment proves that though the lions leave the cages, they are more or less hungry.

But the wild forest dwellers who are human accept to live in the empty cages left behind by the lions. They go on eating the tinned food that was given to the lions that were released. On reading the narrative, I felt that the writer’s intention is quite serious. He wants to depict the true nature of the gradually changing behaviour patterns of the humans who pose as animal lovers.

The original Hindi story is translated into English by Robert Bernard as the author. The two narratives from Sri Lanka too are worthy of mention. The story titled ‘The Bull under the Bodhi Tree’ by Kamala Wijeratne (225pp) and ‘The Birth of Golden Swan’ by Tissa Abeysekara resemble the narratives drawn from the indigenous folklore translation, where religious susceptibilities play a vital role in the expression.

All in all, the collection is a gift to the world in search of peace and co-existence.


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