What a pleasure it gives me to see that the job of writing the novel has been completed as naturally as it has occurred to my mind! They say that 'eat for your self and dress for others.' In writing, the written things should satisfy the writer and the readers. The only way to do that is to achieve perfection in writing.
Writing novel is a long process thing more than anything else. It requires persistent work, consistent thoughts and diligent writings so that the thread of expression, continuity and narration would not be lost into hotchpotch meal rather than a wholesome feast both for the writer and the readers. It, therefore, requires full attention to this type of work just like a devotee who worships the deity with full devotion and love.
Business and Writing
The writing of this novel though started in the year 1973 had a big pause between 1974 and 1981 was resumed and completed in 1982; then corrected with necessary addition and edited in 1987. Actually as I was very busy with my business trips through out the length and breadth of the Southern part of India I was able to write with much promise and inspiration three chapters only and nothing more in 1973. From 1974 to 1981 I was very much engaged with the business and industrial activities in such a way that I could not get time to devote myself fully to this kind of work though I cherished it most and had great zeal to indulge in it. But in the meantime what I was able to write was nothing but a few pieces of poems and one or two essays only.
Comments and Helplessness
There were a lot of comments and criticisms about my writings from my friends. One such criticism was that I had sunk into the quagmire of literature from where there was no point of return at all, I was very much perturbed by the comments of the people who had no knowledge about the creative power of human spirit and was rather indignant about my helplessness to write anything in accordance to my zeal, enthusiasm, interests and dreams. I even felt why I should not have been a blind man or a lame person so that I would have been relieved from my business and family obligations and would have been pleasantly bedridden in some remote corner with a care taker to assist me in my writing adventures and nothing to care about in my life. But the crescendo of mental tension due to the business and the family increased on and on without any respite.
Fulfillment of Literary Learning and Writing
The little relief I got somehow was from my fast reading of a collection of literary books from the 16th century to the Modern period and due to that I was successful enough to write and to secure a postgraduate degree in literature not due to my masterly knowledge of the subject which is a big and deep ocean requiring elaborate preparations and time to explore many precious things in it but perhaps due to my ability to write something originally of my own in the exams. Then like a bolt from the blue our business had a big lull between 1981 and 82, when I wrote all the chapters of the novel, The Halo Dreams starting once again afresh from the very beginning in the course of nearly eight months.
Just after writing the full novel when I informed of this joyful thing to some people I met, they expressed their opinions in different notes about writing in general. Some said that writing was a gift that came naturally to the chosen few and not to everyone. Some expressed the opinion that if anyone said that one had written a poem or an essay or a novel it would be simply the expression of fascination and not facts of lasting value. And some said the persons like me and they could become only amateur writers and not professionals if anyone started writing after crossing the age of three decades. All those views might be true or false, but that does not mean that the natural urge to write by anyone comes up late or early ought to be stopped in the bud itself.
Practice Makes Perfect
Indeed all cannot become gifted writers, writers of facts and professional writers. But that does not mean that if one practices writing constantly even, one cannot become a worthy writer one day. Nobody can become the expert one in the beginning itself which is a rare thing in the world. All cannot be born writers or geniuses. Writing is an art which needs hard labor and regular practice. In the beginning every writer will be only an amateur full of promises, but through one's regular and successful performances only one can achieve the position of a professional or a great artist.
Only Humanity to Decide
Whatever it is, a true artist never bothers about criticisms or comments and rewards or awards, but goes on with one's natural work of art freely, frankly and fearlessly like a yogi non-attached to anything or anyone, non-aligned, impartial and balanced on one's on ward journey exposing the mean, the false and the cruel and honoring the lovely, the truthful and the excellent in the world. Therefore it is not you and I, a handful of persons but the people representing the whole of humanity have to judge and decide about matter to give the final verdict to the world, wherein lies the truth which will reveal the genuine worth of the creative power of the artist.
According to King Solomon wisdom lies in learning by doing. It is not wise to promise more and perform less. So, it is better to learn the techniques while performing a work of art and achieve things according to one's promise. Though greatness lies in promise, only when the promise is kept up in actual practice, greatness can really be achieved in the world. Promise and performance are very important for everyone's life and the honor of a person lies in keeping up the promise by performance. So, I chose promise and performance as the theme of my novel, The Halo Dreams. If we look at the world we can see that human life is nothing but promise and performance.
Fact and Fiction
I felt that it would be better to deal with such a theme in my novel and paid full justice to it by making use of my own observations, experience, thoughts, knowledge and imagination on the way of life of the young people of the locality I have been familiar with since the years between 1971 and 1976. The beach, the park, the lake and the hotels are the places wherein take place the vital episodes of the novel developed by me based on the impressions I had in such places on my business tours to Madras, Mangalore, Quilon, Bangalore, Mysore, Otty and so on. Even today we can see in such places many people are making promises and drawing plans of future course of action about men and matters like the politicians. But how many of these men are fulfilling the promises, or rather how many of them are taking pain to learn the technologies of the trade and using them effectively in their works to fulfill their promises? Indeed it is a big question which anyone can see and understand in one's own experience in life better. The Halo Dreams is one such example of the many promise makers of the world whose promises are just like the drunkard's talk which vanishes at the day break.
The Halo Dreams is not a conventional type of novel having hero, heroine, villain, perfect plot with a beginning, climax and an end. It can be called as a modern, realistic and experimental type of novel. So, the characters in this novel are not the types we commonly come across as in the usual type of novels. They are all individuals becoming prominent in the modern society today. They are all fed up with the moral orthodoxy, social conventions, family tradition, out-of-date educational system, corrupt political system and economic disparity prevailing in the developing countries of the present day world. Against all these odds could the individuals with all their limitations achieve anything worthwhile in their respective fields according to their aspirations?
Promise Makers, Promise Keepers and Promise Breakers
In fact this is the realistic crisis today which every individual youth has to face in the modern society. The question is whether they fight against the crisis in order to maintain their high ideals or principles or self-respect, or simply succumb to the crisis relinquishing their self-respect and fall in line with the common rut in order to live the life like the orthodox ancestors did. No person of good conscience, sensitive heart, intellectual mind and highly humanistic spirit would like to be the people of the latter position. In one respect this experimental novel is also an indicator of the identities in juxtaposition of the promise makers, the promise keepers and the promise breakers among the new people who are emerging in the modern society of today to the sincere individuals aspiring for excellence in the modern world. The most important things here is it is an effort to help one to distinguish between the promise keeper and the promise breaker so that the occurrence of shocking disillusionment later on in life can be prevented in a good manner before it is too late.
The protagonists of the novel Kannan and Balu belong to the list of promise keepers, whose culture is in support of a noble man's motto that "we are born for a nobler cause." Kannan and Balu choose to fight against the social crisis in their own way. Kannan takes intelligent efforts to surmount the crisis and achieves his aspiration in his chosen field. Balu develops himself gradually by taking sincere efforts in opposition to the crisis and settles himself in life according to his wish. The enigmatic character is Gopal who neither fights against the crisis nor succumbs to it but manages himself somehow through thick and thin. But the characters like Selvam and Vaithianathan who begin their careers with sparks of revolution surreptitiously join the common rut creating a boisterous blemish to the noble cause of the circle to which they join first vigorously and vanish soon without any sense of guilt or responsibility. The characters I have shaped in this novel are not the exact replica of the ones we can see anywhere in the society. They are merely the development of my imagination based on my observations, thoughts and knowledge in order to find a meaningful solution for the problems of the individuals in interaction with one another in my literary experiment.
Confidence of my Friend Fulfilled
As I presume that I have come to the fag end of this note I would like to thank the one friend, B. Pugazhendhi for his deep faith in me in spite of all the adverse criticisms from almost everyone against my writing ability, for his concern on my not losing that noble desire like the waste paper carried away by the wind on the passage of time and his firm belief that I would not loosen my grip over that goal as he said encouragingly that he had found in me the confidence, courage, endurance and perseverance necessary to accomplish that noble desire, that goal of becoming a full-fledged writer one day or other. After many years I have really accomplished that goal and renewed his deep faith in me by making it a reality now as I have finished this novel writing work well. Therefore I would like to say to all that I have not sunk into the quagmire but rather dived deep into the ocean of literature to explore the invaluable and priceless things like beauty, truth, love, joy and peace for the pleasure and the benefit of humanity in the world. So, by dedicating this novel to my dear friend B. Pugazhendhi I depart from my readers for the time being.
The day dawned for the town. All the activities started functioning. In one of the main streets of the town in the South Boulevard, the traffic of the vehicles was too much at 8 o' clock, as children were going to the school, students to the college, ladies and gentlemen to offices and various jobs.
The only Rice Mill of that area was as usual functioning with its characteristic noise. It was possible for the late night comer of the opposite house to sleep unaffected by the Mill noise even in that hour! The postman knocked the door of the house and delivered two letters to a small boy who opened the door. The boy ran inside the house and handed over the letters to Gopal, who was reading that day's newspaper in the hall.
Gopal took the letters and went to his room in the upstairs. He lit a cigarette, opened the covers and took out the letters. He read the letters for a few minutes and kept them on the table. He looked at the morning sky. It was yet to become bright. He coolly smoked the full cigarette in a thoughtful mood and threw it away at a distance. He looked at the mirror and slightly combed his hair. He stood near the shirt stand in order to choose a better dress to wear that day. He felt it was better to wear a casual dress. After a few minutes, he picked out a white shirt from the stand, wore it, went down the stairs and left the house in a brisk manner.
He walked towards the Central Park of the town. His eyes glowed with brilliance when he saw the green park! It was a wonderful creation of man's mind, a mark of civilization giving joy to the suffering, peace to the confused, enthusiasm to the hopeless, stimulation to the desolate, satisfaction to the curious and so on. It was a wonderful park placed at the heart of the town, situated near the sea shore. It was one of the past relics of the French civilization left over to that spiritual town of India. The park reminded Gopal of the song of pleasure written by Kannan in the letter he read in the morning.
What a drowsy atmosphere prevails here,
When the lousy sphere is full of fear!
Plum green grass everywhere as far as eye can see!
In the heart there stands a dome,
Perhaps a souvenir of Xanadu's Kubla Dome!
Four parts filled with green grasses,
And the trees of many branches,
The Park welcomes one and all!
Not only multi-colored butter flies fly there
But also mellifluous dream angels lie there!
Indeed it's a place meant for pleasure!
Gopal engrossed himself in the green grass and the artistically designed dome in the middle of the park and soon conveniently lay on a shady place there. Immersed in a state of reverie he almost became a poet of Nature. He felt he were a piece lying on a velvet bed rather than a man on the green grass! His happiness knew no bound! He seemed to be enjoying a unique pleasure full of some boisterous thoughts!
Exactly at that moment a sweet musical laugh of a dame reached his ear. Though his eyes were wide open he was mentally unwilling to come to this world! It would take a little time. He longed for the transformation to come upon him of its own accord!
'Excuse me, gentleman,' said the sweet musical voice of the dame. 'Please tell me where I can get drinking water in this park.'
It was enough for Gopal to come to this world. He got up from the grass and took her to the water tank situated near the dome. The water tank was nicely fenced by green plants and because of which it would be a futile adventure for anyone to find it out there. The tap was two feet below the ground level as the tank was dug in the ground.
The dame was not in a position to say anything to him. She was almost at the verge of becoming unconscious in that hot day. Her very eyes, face and delicate stature expressed about her state of fatigue to him. So, he quickly looked around and saw the gardener working with his implements near that dome. He approached him and came to her within a few seconds with an empty beer bottle. Then he simply got inside the water tank, opened the tap and filled the bottle with water.
The lady drank the water till she was satisfied as soon as she got the bottle from Gopal. Afterwards he too drank water and came out of the water tank. Then they walked out of the green fence without any conversation.
He opened the dialogue, 'I presume you are studying in the college.'
'Yes, I am studying in the college in Cuddalore. I am doing second year B.A. literature. I have come here along with my class mates as tourists in a bus standing at the other end of the park. So, I thank you very much for your kind help. I am supposed to be the guide to that crew. I will take them also to this place so that they can see this dome and drink water here.'
With those words she flew away from that place. Gopal walked back to the place where he was immersed in a contemplative mood. His kind heart was gently heaving with some joy. Again he thought of another song on life written to him by Kannan on his first trip to a far away place in North India.
Life is a happy journey
There is nothing so thorny
When thy heart is light
And thy mind is right.
Never doubt with a pout the love,
Which ye ought to worship with awe.
So, love, love and love
Thy Lord and thy lady love
And nothing will be bitter,
Everything will be sweeter.
Life may have many changes;
Blend with others if there be chances.
A lot ye need to know in this world
Sorrows there are in everyone's life
Yet never lose thy precious heart
That is how life has to be lived.
Life's destiny is the inevitable death
Time keeps all in suspended animation!
But all dreams come to an end
However sweet they may be!
Therefore ye wish for thy activities end
With a peaceful sleep one day.
Then he heard a hand clap sound near him. Gopal turned his face to see who it could be. There was no one behind him. So, he silently waited for the intruder to come to him of his own accord.
It was Selvam, who came to him and fell on the grass by his side.
'Hay! How are you Gopal?' asked Selvam as if he was seeing him after a long time.
'Wonderful! And what about you?'
'I was reading the news papers and magazines in the library. Then I came here to see the beauty of this park. All right, you have got a job in some newspaper publishing house here, Gopal. Is it true?'
'Yes, you are right. I have received an official appointment letter this morning. I am asked to go to The Bright Light Publishing House. It seems they are fascinated by the speed which I am typing out drafts! They have a lot of works there and so, I am going there tomorrow morning.'
'You are really a lucky guy, I say. You see, you have completed type writing course and you are getting a job in a private concern. There is a lot of scope for you. See our Balu. He has completed an Industrial Training Course within a very short period and now he is already in a job. He is getting appreciated for his wonderful activities in the White Steel Industries as an Assistant Production Manager.'
All right man, did you receive any letter from Kannan? He has dropped a letter for me. He wants to see me on the coming Saturday evening. It is a tragedy that he had lost his wife and his parents in a disastrous accident somewhere near Bombay. The things are not at all going on smoothly for him. Now it seems that his relatives are pressing him to think about his second marriage. But he feels that it has become a strange mess which could not have been experienced by anyone at his age. He is going to have a discussion about this issue with us and is going to take a decision about his future. That is why he is going to have a meeting with us in the coming Saturday. I am happy to see him. Today I have received a letter from him. That is why I am in a state of reverie remembering about his talks with us here in the past.'
'But I didn't receive any letter. Since it is our duty to help him I will come for the meeting. He is a man to be praised and I am elated to call myself a friend of him.'
Okay Selvam, let us go and have a cup of coffee somewhere here. Then we can talk more about this matter.'
They left the park and walked to a nearby hotel in that area.
Outside the Pudhu Town limit there were a lot of coconut trees and green rice fields. With the modern electrification facilities, installation of motor pump sets, small lathe work shops, etc. the out skirts of the town appeared to be a developing satellite town of a metropolitan city. Throughout the year there was no scarcity of water as it was a wet area. Still further out, the green fields, the tributaries of distant river, the blue sky and the other colorful accessories had made the place a fine spot for leading a pastoral life there. In fact the foreigners who had come in pursuit of spiritual attainment were interested in settling themselves in such a location. There were a few yogis to encourage such people to come to that place and learn the art of yoga in that beautiful and serene town.
The time was approaching one O'clock. There was a small house situated a little bit away from the town, in which a small family was living. Vaithianathan was the second son of that family. His elder brother had got married and had settled in Salem. After finishing his Degree Course in science, Vaithianathan was intending to employ himself in the government office.
He was lean and tall in stature. He was always so busy that nothing could stop him or distort him whether he was at station or out of station, whether he was in the circle of his friends or foes, everything was one and the same for him.
Though he looked to be a humorous person, he was serious in thought about everything. He wanted to become a philosopher one day. After going through many books in a local library he arrived at the conclusion that philosophy was nothing but an aid to find out the truth or the cause of everything. Under this assumption, he was doing research on the things or persons he was encountering.
It was the lunch time for him. He tiptoed down the stairs from his room to the hall. His brother was seen engrossed in reading a novel. He was unaware, when Vaithianathan came there and sat on a chair opposite to him. Vaithianathan too without disturbing him started reading the passage found in the coverless first page of the novel. Before he had finished glancing through the page his brother gave a passionate sigh and was at the verge of rolling over the easy chair.
Without the rescue by Vaithianathan he would have not only fallen down from the easy chair but also would have bent the steel tubular structure of it as he was heavier than the poor furniture which was holding him.
'Thank you very much, my brother. You have saved me from the ribs fracture I was about to have sustained. All because of your knack to knock my neck as a counter measure to avert my fall on the ground at the flicker of the moment!'
'That is all right bloody fool!' said Vaithianathan to his brother, 'what is the name of the novel you are reading?'
'Hot Love,' replied his brother.
'What! Hot Love? Then is there anything like Cold Love?'
'Just like summer, winter is there,' said he in reply to Vaithianathan. 'Day and night are also so. In the same way Cold Love is also available just like Hot Love, brother.'
'What a companion, what a logic and what a philosophy, my brother!'
Their conversation was abruptly stopped as the servant maid appeared before them and informed Vaithianathan that a friend had come to see him.
Vaithianathan looked at his watch and it was showing 1.10 p.m. He walked across the hall and received his friend.
'Hello! How are you Selvam?'
'I am so, so and I think, you are fine,' said he as he was being escorted to the dining room.
'What is your point of visit here, Selvam?'
'There is a special meeting tomorrow evening and a wonderful dinner party tomorrow night. You are going to meet a wonderful guest tomorrow! The meet is arranged by Balu and the dinner party is by me.'
Selvam looked at him for his response.
'Then sure I will be attending both,' replied he.
The lunch was served to them. They tasted the food appreciating the cook's hand work. Then their talk turned to the day's affair.
'Vaithianathan, it is very difficult to make the people understand what we speak. They talk what they know. They never listen properly and so, they cannot think well and give a good answer. It is difficult to manage with elders and the common men. Unless the mentality of the people changes, no progress can be made.'
'What is the way to solve this problem, Selvam? It is a big problem. I was also thinking about it. Only when we find out the causes for this sorry state of affair, we can think about any change for them.'
'The root cause for this problem is lack of education. We have to educate them. Then only they can understand us, respect us and follow what we speak to them. I feel I have to become a politician. After I become a politician this state of affair can be well changed to a tolerable position.'
'To become a politician, you should know how to give a speech on the stage before thousands of people. You should learn how to talk and cover the people.'
'Yes, Vaithianathan you are correct. I shall learn to give a speech to the audience. That is why I like to be a friend to Balu or Kannan. They are capable of enriching our mind with good ideas and knowledge and making us to put forth our matters in a good manner. See one day I shall become a politician and set right our people.'
With that resolution their characteristic discussion over lunch came to an end. They washed their hands and moved on to a room in the upstairs.
Then Vaithianathan's brother came there with a tray full of grape fruits. He said to his brother, 'I am going out to participate in a cricket match today with my friends. So, I won't be available till the night. Our mummy has also gone out to purchase some provisions in our grocer's shop. You have to look after our house and see your brother, and see you Mr. Selvam.'
He left the room and disappeared from the house within a few seconds.
'Let him go,' said Vaithianathan to Selvam, 'I have a subject to study in hand always. I spend my time on philosophy, friend.'
'It will be sheer waste if you spend your time on philosophy,' said Selvam.
'No man. We should know the truth of things. Then only we can become a proper person. Otherwise we shall be vague and don't know where we are going. I am not an expert in any line. I want to know about our religion. I want to know about the essence of Vivekananda's speeches. It is about our religion. I have a lot of books sleeping in my mummy's room. This is the time to read them. Once I go through them, I think, I can lead a morally up right life. That is one of my wishes. Let us see how far I shall be successful in this venture.'
'So, you are having an aim like that. Then let me hear how far you have studied in this line.'
For about an hour or so Vaithianathan talked on his own theory of life and about philosophy in particular. Selvam, who had been listening with some interest, did not know with what words he could appreciate his friend for his wonderful philosophical ideas.
Selvam looked at his watch. It was time for him to go and attend to his special engagements. He wound up his talk with Vaithianathan by getting up from the chair.
'Vaithianathan, you are a great philosopher and I don't have time to talk to you now. I hope you will be meeting us tomorrow evening.'
Selvam left the place. Vaithianathan did not know what he had to do as there was no one in the house. He kept on walking round the hall in the downstairs musing over the 'Hot Love.' Suddenly a knocking noise was heard from the back door of the house. There was no possibility for anyone to knock that door when his mother was out of the house. That was something strange to him. And so he doubted who could be disturbing anybody in the house at that hour of the afternoon.
He silently went to the back door, waited there for a moment and suddenly opened the door. The waiting dame also exactly at that moment tried to give another knock at the door. But the knock fell on the face of Vaithianathan. Before Vaithianathan managed himself the dame requested him to pardon her for the accident.
'All right,' said Vaithianathan, 'may I know who you are?'
'If you kindly hand over this book to your mother, she will tell you who I am,' said the dame and ran away from the place.
Every thing took place in such a haphazard way that Vaithianathan did not understand anything. He simply took the book inside and started reading the contents in a blind manner. It was terrifically hot in that hour as it was a summer day. So, he simply succumbed to a sound sleep.
Continued to : The Confusion : The Halo Dreams
The Halo Dreams
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