Canadian poet Margaret Atwood once said, ‘A word after a word after a word is power’. Words, indeed, are the single most powerful tool available to humankind. They can make a person or break one. They can bring hope or despair. Understanding can emerge from them but so can ignorance. A collective recognition of the power of words is being celebrated through a literature and storytelling programme called Jashn-E-Qalam.
The thought here is to experience the extraordinary potential of words. Their timelessness is being honoured through performances and multimedia. When you speak with storyteller Rajesh Kumar, the essence of what Jashn-E-Qalam stands for, emerges cogently. Through his storytelling of Ek Gau Bhakt se Bhent, he talks of the politicisation of God, religion and now the cow, in particular. “Almost 40 years later now, nothing much has changed.
God men are hardly holy. Humanity is being slaughtered at the altar of greed and profit. There is blind faith and intolerance at triumphant voices. The clear stream of reason has still not found its way,” says Kumar, who was initiated into Dastangoi (a 13th century Urdu oral storytelling art form) by writer Mahmood Farooqui.
The simplicity of Hindustani language brought out its beauty. Kumar’s fascination with words is undeniably seen in the way he talks about it. “Stories to me are a reflection of how we live our lives. Incidents, events, experiences and memory—all are interwoven into the narrative we then share. We are all storytellers. Literature and books are our great friends as they give us wings to fly. You return from the journey, enriched and refreshed,” he says.
Jashn-E-Qalam will see another plot titled Chuimui, being enacted by Shashwita Sharma. The protagonist is on a train to Delhi and is carrying the most precious cargo herself. Her future is in her womb, literally and figuratively. This is the third pregnancy and this time she must deliver.
Another riveting plot titled Marhoom ki Yaad Mein is all about friendship, by KC Shankar. “It reminds us that a thin line separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and hurt,” says Shankar.
Because literature lucidly brings out precisely what a given society is about, it fosters an environment of introspection. Word in this context, don’t remain mere words. They come a collective consciousness of reality.
Hindustani literature in this context, makes connections even more personal as it as an integral language that binds together a large part of our country, according to Shankar. “The stories and their milieu, the characters and their voices are familiar; their concerns and challenges are so relatable. India and Bharat with all its complexities and diversity leap through its pages. The desire is share this treasure trove in a form that is both entertaining and accessible,” he says. November 19, at 12 noon, GreenR Café in Shahpur Jat.