There are no dapper heroes or svelte heroines in M Rajeevkumar’s stories. Rather they smell of rustic earth drenched in sweat and blood. In palpable emotions they reach out to you and haunt your conscience for years to come. In his innate style this writer scrawls down the intricacies of human minds in a daedal manner. Dabbling with surrealism his fecund mind churns out stunning portrayals of life and its rationality. In all their complexities, these stories leave you with a pleasant after-taste. ‘M Rajeevkumarinte Kadhakal’ is an anthology of short stories Rajeev has written over a period of 40 years.
“If one has to understand the works of a writer it has to come together in a book. 40 years is a long time to be in the literary world. And my earlier works do not have any reprints so none of them are available now. So I handpicked around 160 stories from the works I wrote during the last 40 years and compiled them together in a book,” says Rajeev.
However, this writer, who has established his distinct style in the early 70s, successfully captures a world that is not barred by time. Thronging with modernism, he pushes the boundaries of Malayalam language, while following an avant-garde route. His ‘Ellu’, ‘Jignishyali’ and ‘Cybrog’ are some such works which walk far beyond their time.
“My stories are never free-flowing. I have taken special care in designing my craft. Every story is a conscious effort from my part as that is what I genuinely want to tell the world. Hence, they do not just transpire out of nowhere instead, I mull over each and every word before finally putting it on paper,” says Rajeev.
At a time when Malayalam literature was synonymous with the likes of M T Vasudevan Nair, Kakkanadan, Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer, this newcomer single-handedly clinched a name for his unique writing style. However, surviving in the formidable world of writing was indeed a challenge.
“I have started a publishing company, ‘Paridhi’ in 1983 for first-time writers who were struggling to get their works published. We used to conduct literary sessions to identify talent. Those who caught our attention were given a chance to publish their works at ‘Paridhi’. However, due to my work commitments Paridhi is not that active these days,” says Rajeev.
Rajeev never used ‘Paridhi’ for his own works. All his books including his latest anthology were published by various well-known publishers across the state including DC books.
Convoluted yet gritty, Rajeev’s characters give a bravura performance whenever they come out of his imagination and stand out on their own. However, he says his characters stay strictly under his wings. When he asks them to jump they jump. It is not only human beings that becomes his muses but ‘Ellu’ (bones) and ‘Palaka’ (wood). They are characters that swarm together for stories.
Rajeev, who was an avid sportsman, quit his passion to embrace writing at the age of 15. Since then, he never had to look back. His penchant for short stories has worked out in his favour. “I have written novelettes, but no novels. I sharpen my short stories to perfection so they serve the purpose of novels. Basically I don’t have the patience to write a long novel. It is a tedious process that takes many years to complete,” says Rajeev. Rajeev, who garnered a PhD in 1994 for his study and research on Madhavikkutty’s works, essays a dull and dingy world, where men and women blend seamlessly with the taciturn world. Though written years ago, each of his stories is relatable in its approach.
The preface written by P S Pradeep, a Retd Additional Secretary, Kerala Finance Department, gives a detailed introduction to the book. Pradeep and Rajeev share a long-lasting friendship of around 30 years.
“Pradeep is somebody who understands my works perfectly. He knows my stories in depth. He has some written works to his credit such as ‘Swayamvaram Muthal Swam vare’. He is more into feature film studies,” says Rajeev.