Gracious Benjamin had always known the secret behind many of the mysteries integral to the rustic world. For instance, he knew how the frogs would vanish without a trace when the earth dries up and would be back croaking away in troops at the arrival of the first showers. He had watched them play this game of hide and seek with the rains since childhood when he went to the paddy fields with his father. The tips he had picked up then kept him in good stead when, after class 10, he had to take up farming for a living.
But it was much later that he realised that such everyday revelations, common in an agrarian setting, do not alight on all and sundry. He compiled some such facts and put together a book in 1999, which has been reprinted by the publishers about three times so far.
The farmer-turned-author has penned 125 books in general knowledge category by now and is working on another five, due to be completed shortly. Writing keeps him so engaged these days that farming has taken a back seat for this 48-year-old. From ‘Karshika Guide’, his first book, Gracious has moved on to reference books on world history, ‘did-you-know’ series on science subjects and guides for competitive examinations. He has also penned the script for a popular progarmme on agriculture aired on All India Radio apart from articles for farm journals in Malayalam.
“I wrote my first book inspired by the response of my friends when I explained to them new developments in farming that I read about in newspapers and magazines,” says Gracious. “When I found that there were takers for books like that, I did a market survey and gathered that books on science subjects intended for students are very much in demand. The series on botanical and zoological facts also had many reprints. Now I mostly work on books ordered by publishers. Currently, I am writing books like a general knowledge companion for civil servants,” he says.
He adds that a mega project commissioned by a leading publishing house - ‘Karshika Vijnanakosham’ - is also nearing completion. “The pre-publication announcement is due to be made early this year. It is 2000 pages long and contains exhaustive information on the crops of the world. It took me 10 years to compile that book.” In the meanwhile, Gracious also made himself net-savvy which he says was a ‘turning point’.
He has received awards such as the state government’s Karshaka Bharati Award and Indian Veterinary Association’s award for best farm journalism. He lives with his wife Kala and two daughters, Anupama and Anuja at Kattachalkuzhi near Vizhinjam. Anupama, a plus two student, follows in his footsteps and has published works of non-fiction and fiction.
She has also been a recipient of the farm journalism award instituted by the state unit of Indian Veterinary Association. From how he presents it, it would appear as if Gracious considers his daughter’s talent for writing the most noteworthy of all his achievements.