Thursday, August 02, 2007

the blue pencil ...

i am not sure what title i should give to this post. it is about the man who gave me the opportunity to be a journalist. he is dying. slowly. surely.

the last time i met him, he talked for a few hours about the paper he edited. how bad it has become and how worse the editor-in-charge was. it was in his air-filled house under a whole lot of trees in a quiet neighbourhood in besant nagar.

he had just come back from library and a stroll in the nearby park with his wife. he thought he was fine and that the cancer has been completely cured. i thought so. he was filled with vitality, as ever. he wanted to know how my parents, wife and daughter were.

with half-a-century of journalism behind him, he wanted to work in a newspaper till he breathed last. he had another regret. he had never owned a newspaper. he had only been an editor.

however, he had to fight cancer after retirement. i am sure, if not for the cancer, he would have lived close to 100 years. i am not sure now. i just returned from seeing him in a bed, deathbed. with wires running all through his body, and he, can you believe, unconcious.

those who have visited the desk will always remember this tall, energetic man, in whites, with a pen in hand, commanding the newsroom. once he had told me. ``you remind me of my young days as a reporter, therefore i like you a lot''.

that was one of the reason he allowed me to work inspite of the numerous mistakes that appeared in print because of my stupidity. when it comes to criticism, he can be more than harsh. he actually hurts. sensitive people will never be able to work for him. those who take it in the positive sense, as part of a learning curve, continued to work with him.

the legend has it that he has made many, many ordinary reporters into great reporters and on the flip side, he has killed the hopes of equally the same number of aspiring journalists.

my father still thinks me that only because of my editor, i have been a bit useful to myself and to the people around me. i think i should have to accept it. i was an aimless, arrogant and an addict.

the first time i met him, he asked me if i can write in tamil. and gave me a test. he threw my certificates to a corner of the desk. he dint care for my masters. after corrections, he loves doing that, he asked me if i knew what it meant by *otru pilai*.

son of a tamil teacher, i had no clue. still, he gave me the job. in his style, he said. ``stick around for a few months. if you are good, we will take you. otherwise, you go home.''

and thus began my journalistic career. in another six months, i would be completing a decade in journalism. what i have achieved, i don't know. perhaps, like him, i can take pride that, i have introduced many youngsters to journalism.

unlike him, i plan to write a lot, provided there is space for serious stuff. and if i am not lazy, he was one man who had the courage to ask a rookie like me to write edits for the most prestigious and authentic language paper in the tamil country. i am not sufe if any other editor will allow a reporter, just three months into the profession, to write edits.

my editor had the courage and a rare belief in the power of the youth. he taught us sincerity and how not to be corrupt. even to this day, the english daily, for which i work and for which he served really long, is the least corrupt.

his wife tells me that he often says that he wants to survive. in the hospital bed, he looks pale. with a white veshti around his waist, he is induced to sleep. that broad, always thinking, forehead is smeared with ash. this man was known to have associated with the reformist and dravidian movements.

he has a mask. his wife tells me that he often bites his tongue. those who were bitten by the harshness of that tongue can take delight in that. when someone visits him in the hospital and calls him saying that he has come, he murmurs long, acknowledging it.

is he conscious? his wife says that the doctors plan to open his skull and remove the clot in the brain. she is not sure if he will survive surgery. even if he survived, he already has lost the ability to walk. he hates pity.

his wife is in a dilemma. she has never taken a decision in her life. he takes them. in a moment, always. has he been kind? i think it will be debated for long. personally, he has been kind to me.

whether he learnt or not, he always wanted journalists, young and old, to learn and improve everyday. ``only self-improvement will help.'' that tall man would stand there from 11 am to 11 pm. commanding and communicating. those who dint communicate, lost favour with him. there are scoundrels around to spoil others life everywhere, you see.

for my editor, work was worship. when he breathes last, editing would have reached an end. only temporarily. i pray editing gets sharper and sharper. and he, hale and healthier.

we have thousands of things to write. the society is selfish and stinking.

1 comment:

malayan said...

He was known for adding value to people, his people, journalists. I entered his paper as Tamil Journalist with very bad english who would make many a mistakes in job application, though i posses as much good Tamil, that he never found fault with. Though he associated himself with a movement that glorified Tamil he never let me satisfied with 'good Tamil'. On the second day of interview (it lasted for five days) he threw my application with errors in it corrected, in my face. Most 'memorable' mistake involved misspelling of the word 'sincerely'. So, I some how came to a conclusion that i would not get job there (which was proven wrong later). After joining there, he lived up to the (literal) meaning of the word 'Asiriyar', Tamil Equalent of 'Editor' and asked me to write English texts and offered to correct them. You would not believe, he would often give me impositions like a teacher. Though he hurt me many times in that account, those words chiseled me into an English journalist. Which i never imagined even in my worst dreams. while i write these words, tears trickle down my cheeks. Only a few people in the world truly makes man. he is one among those rare breed of excellent human beings. But I should accept that i never been his blue eyed boy. His scorching words and treatment gave me sleepless nights and left their scares in my physic as much as they dramatically transformed my skills and life. But you need not to search for a perfect man since it is a myth.

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.