Writing was not her cup of tea till she bagged the first prize of the M P Narayana Pillai Memorial short story competition conducted by Samakalika Malayalam Varika an Express publication.
K Prajisha,19, a diploma student of computer engineering at Government Polytechnic College Tirurangadi, Malappuram, won for her short story, ‘Kanyam’.
In it, she depicts the life of two high school girls, Rahel and Agnes, who get trapped in a sex racket. Thanks to the timely intervention of the parents, Rahel gets saved, while Agnes kills herself.
“To be recognised is a wonderful feeling,” says Prajisha.
“As a writer I try to increase my understanding of the world by reading magazines and books, especially short stories. I am thankful to Ajijesh my friend for his support and guidance. It was he who encouraged me to read works by new-generation writers.”
She believes that the difficult times of her childhood have moulded her. Since she writes poems, there is a poetic touch in her story, too.
Through her poems, she portrays women as the symbol of power.
Nevertheless, Prajisha is worried about the unfortunate incidents taking place against children and women in society.
While sharing her anxieties about this, Prajisha says, “I want to use writing to reduce violence against women. I will never turn a blind eye towards the ill-practices in society. A writer can initiate positive thoughts among the reading public.”
Meanwhile, her articles on social issues have always found a place in college magazines.
Prajisha says, “The power of education and job can be realised only when we are forced to stay out of it.”
Writing is never a child’s play for Ajijesh Pachat, who won the first runner-up title for his story, ‘To X-ray Under 16’. It focuses on the corroding values of present-day society.
”I am happy to be among the winners,” says the 31-year-old contract worker from Pallikkal, in Malappuram district. He is also a bibliophile, who says that writing is the only way to unwind after his daily work.
“Through the story, I have highlighted the trait of Malayalis to view anything and everything around them with eyes of suspicion,” he says.
Ajijesh says that a good writer should be a voracious reader. He admires writers like Padmarajan, O V Vijayan and N S Madhavan. “They inspired me to write,” he says.
Asked why he enjoys writing fiction, Ajijesh says, “Penning short stories is a thrilling exercise for me. There are many stories around Malappuram that are yet to be told.”
Ajilesh will soon publish a novelette titled, ‘X-ray under 16’.
Ajijesh, who real name is Jijesh, has 25 short stories to his credit. “When I quit my job as a machine operator, I wanted to be a full-time writer,” he says. “But financial constraints made me a contract worker.”
The short story is the finest form of literature in Malayalam, says Ajijesh, whose stories tackle contemporary issues. “Now we have good writers who have the mettle and pluck to point out the atrocities in society,” he says.
Creative writing is not a mere pastime but a connect to real-life experiences for Lasar Shine, the third prize winner of the short story competition. Being a native of Olavaipu, a ‘Communist village’ in Alappuzha, Lasar is a keen observer of minute socio-political changes of society.
The prize-winning story, ‘Surveillance’ is a sharp reaction to the horrible subjugation of people because of a sophisticated surveillance mechanism. “The present-day life is becoming synonymous with a surveillance society,” he says. “Wherever you go, you are under a close scanner. You are observed at the workplace, educational institutions, roads, hotels, places of worship and even at your home! You are denied all rights for privacy. Denial of privacy can create deep psychological and sociological problems.”
Lasar says that his exposure to Kochi (for a living he is doing business journalism in the city) made him understand the intensity of surveillance.
“Unwanted surveillance is a form of violence,” he says. “It has the potential to damage everything human. After coming across several gruesome tales of surveillance, I wanted to write against it. That piece of writing was a political response to the question of surveillance.”
Lasar owes his taste and skill for literary writing and creative thinking to a vibrant atmosphere in his home. His father K L Antony was a theatre activist closely affiliated to the Communist movement. His mother, Leena, was also connected to theatre.
“I was not born in a financially-sound family. But I was lucky to be exposed to a rich collection of books and various cultural activities. The activities of my parents also influenced my childhood. The exposure to the politically charged theatre had a great impact on my world view,” he says.
Apart from these early influences, the Bible and the writings of Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer are his greatest inspiration. “You get new insights every time you read the Bible and Basheer. It extends your literary imagination, beyond borders,” he says. Lasar is currently focusing more on script writing. He is busy penning a script for a Fahad Fazil film.