Rather than attending a formal book release function, almost all who gathered at Press Club Hall here on Friday would have felt as if they were watching a movie with a well-written script. It went well, and broke into an unpredictable climax at the end.
Everyone, including the chief guest, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, sat patiently throughout the book release function of actor and film-maker Balachandra Menon’s collection of short-stories, ‘Balachandra Menonte 12 Cherukathakal.’
The dais was empty and the guests comprising Menon, Ravi and K P Ramachandran Nair of Konark Publishers had occupied seats in the front row among the audience. Thaha J Rasool, a classmate of Menon during his pre-degree classes at Fatima Mata College, Kollam, moved towards the podium making an introductory speech.
It was followed by the narration of the first chapter, ‘Did you go for a film, Menon?’, by Padmaja Radhakrishnan. Before finding a place in the collection, the story first appeared in the magazine of Fatima Mata College when Menon was a pre-degree student in 1970. In the story, he saw himself as a busy film-director and a darling of the family audience. He imagined meeting his friends Thaha, Treesa and Susan then.
Susan’s son is named ‘Manikuttan’, the name that gained much popularity later through Menon’s film ‘April 18.’ The story ends with Menon waking up from his ‘power nap’ in the class when the teacher asks him, ‘’Did you go for a film yesterday?’’
The number of stories were split into two. Prof Aliyar gave a brief description of the first six stories, followed by journalist Rajeev Gopalakrishnan’s take on the next six.
And finally it happened, the much-anticipated book release. The guests manoeuvred to the dais through a number of lensmen from the media and addressed the audience.
It was time and Menon broke the suspense. He took a lot from the many names of his former classmates who gathered at the function scribbled on pieces of paper. Menon announced one single name aloud. The lucky man, Joseph Gansis, emerged from the crowd and received a copy of the book from the Minister.
As if watching a film with a happy ending, the audience slowly dispersed.