Palma, the naughty lamb and the Saint
I changed my school to St Joseph’s High School, Trivandrum, to join the fifth grade. While I was in St Roch’s convent, I went by school bus. But after that I started schooling in Government buses. On some days when I miss the bus, I used to run to the school for reaching in time.
Initially, it was difficult for me at school to adjust, even though many of my classmates from St Roch’s Convent was there. We lived in West Fort, Trivandrum. I used to read newspapers daily. One day news about a dog waiting for his owner at an airport in some foreign country excited me. The household migrated to another country and left their pet dog behind. The dog ran after their car and reached the airport. He understood that his owners who cared and showered love for him alighted a flight. Till then he waited for them near and around the airport. He stays wandering around the airport. Occasionally when a flight lands he runs towards the exit and wait. Finally he goes back moaning.
This news made me sad. The name of the dog was Palma. I started writing a novel based on this theme.
The novel starts with a chapter “Hearty Gift” followed by “The genuine bond”, “Alarm”, “Detective”, “The odd day” and “The orgy”.
The central character was Coney who passed fourth grade like me, who during his birthday celebration got a small puppy as a gift. I had no bigger birthday celebration during my younger days, but I dreamed of my birthday celebration throughout the day and night. Many other characters are there in the novel- all with foreign names. I had a perception that while you write an English novel, the characters and places must be from West. I relied on Atlas to find the name of places and books in school library for names.
In the first part of the novel, all characters are happy, and the events are joyful. But when I started writing the second part, I could not proceed since I felt I am Coney. My tears made me blind and could write the second part. The first novel thus ended with the first part and unseen by anyone. I just passed my tenth birthday during the time I tried this venture.
My next attempt to write was in Grade Six. It is a poetry. I named it “Disobedient lamb”, the popular tale of the lamb who did not hear the word of his mother. It got published in school magazine while I am in Grade Seven under the name “The Naughty Lamb”.
I got appreciation from teachers who never taught me. Teachers who taught me in classes did not even tell a kind word for this poem. Father Dominic Gomez- I met him first and talked for the first time when he came enquiring who Shajil is? It was an exciting moment for me. He told – you will become world famous. The craving for fame- I believe started by his words. I learned a lesson from people who you know and around you will not appreciate any excellent work from you. Instead, those whom you do not know may come appreciating for your works.
At home, my father was very much happy about this poetry and he inspired me to write a lot. He brought books and magazines for me to read. He spoke to me about many eminent writers in Kerala, India and all around the world.
During this time, when I am alone, I used to make lines (lyrics?) in Hindi language and sing aloud as if I am a singer. Unfortunately, I am not a singer. Later on, I made lyrics in all languages I know and sang when I am alone. I felt an unknown presence in with me when I do such things. It is nice to believe a person unknown and disguise like a spirit is with me always to enjoy my creative works.
Around this time, another incident occurred. When I went to buy bread, a Sufi like saint came there. On seeing me, he stared me into my eyes and in lyrical form he said: “You are going to be a God”.
I never wanted to be GOD, but to remain a human. I cried and hid behind the shopkeeper. The unknown man asked: “How long will you hide him?”
“The World is for you. The sorrows and worries, the agonies and anguish – at 50 you will understand the meaning of my saying”
True it is, at fifty, all my thoughts and beliefs got a tremendous uprooting. A true Litterateur reflecting the society or its part in their work is always in danger. Even writing a biographical novel is harmful for them. It may cost their life.
My father taught me not to be afraid of others. You have only to convince you- inner conscience. Even though others try to silence you, you stand straight in this world.