A blood-red envelope lands on my desk along with the day’s mail. THE blood-red envelope. The same type of envelope, made of rough handmade paper. Just like it was years ago. You might remember me writing about it last year.
Somehow, the iconic poster of Che Guevara presented to me then by my cousin, the face collage in red and black with a beret sporting a solitary star, instilled in me a sense of importance though I had no idea what it was based on.
I was not expecting the letter. The envelope was made of blood-red recycled paper, and my name was scrawled in capitals with a black sketch-pen. No stamp, no postmark. Somebody had just walked up and placed the envelope there.
This is something I had to learn in order to survive as a writer. The moment I learnt to let go and accept the freedom of the reader, I was free of that blinding trap that beguiles beginners. Most of us drown ourselves in the noise that emanates and willfully begin to write with pre-conceived notions that, sooner or later, take on a voice different from our own.
Ask any Malayali, anywhere in the world, about food back home, and they will consistently come up first with kappa-meen curry on their list of favorites. This yellow mash of boiled starchy tuber, with its understated flavor accompanied by spicy, red, gambooge-flavored fishy curry scores high on the nostalgia list for any marunadan Malayali.
Every time, the Devi’s procession crossed the vicinity of another Devi Temple – there were about 3-4 temples in the area of Puthupally – she would stop to visit her sister. Now this is seriously the realm of the spiritual as we know, and the sisters were allowed to have a conversation, and while this happened in the spaces beyond human access, the oracle’s dance reached a crescendo, the poor man becoming God for that instant and letting everyone know of the divine wish of the deity.
It is almost as if you have just stretched through the veil of time and set off a trigger that works on the premise of remembrance – of a smile, a smirk, the toss of the head or some quirk that you have stored away in memory as an associative remnant.
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