Sunday, September 4, 2016

Pro . Prabhakara Acharya - " POINTS OF VIEW

I conducted some poetry and literature appreciation programs, and workshops, after I retired. My
regret is that I didn’t take any for ‘creative writing’. They are important. Not every-one will become a poet, a novelist or a dramatist after attending a workshop. But when one learns the technicalities of writing, one learns to read and respond to literary works better. And there is so much to teach and learn.
Take ‘points of view’, for example. I thought it was a matter most readers would easily understand, but I realize now that it needs some explanation. So here it is:
There are mainly three points of view; the subdivisions will come later:
1. The first person (‘I’) point of view.
2. The second person (‘You’) pt of view.
3. The third person pt of view.
I’ll take 2 first. I wonder if any novel has ever been written in the 2nd person. (If you come across one, please let me know.) But there are plenty of poems; and short stories certainly can be written in it. Let me, just for fun, try writing a few lines as the first paragraph of a story:
As you walk up the winding road, going uphill, you begin to breathe more freely. The rickety bus that brought you to the small village at the foot of the hill has gone back. The dust it raised has long settled down. The stale idlies you ate in the dingy village restaurant have not yet started troubling you. The climb becomes steeper. But you can’t slow down. It is already nearly two in the afternoon. It will take another four or five hours for you to reach the temple, and the house of the priest standing next to it. It has been ten years since you went there with two of your friends. You had slept in the priest’s house then, wondering how he and his wife could survive in that hovel – with their one year old child – all by themselves. The child must be eleven now. You had gone up to the Sarvajna Peetha, built by Adi Sankaracharya more than a thousand years ago, before break of day early next morning. What a steep climb it was! At one place, where there were deep gorges on both sides of the way, your friends had to drag you up because you had vertigo. Where are those friends now? Just below the Peetha you had all sat down on a rock to see the sun rise. The clouds were all beneath you. Then the sun rose and the clouds started lifting up their hands – or tentacles? God, what a sight it was! Is that why you are going up again, after all your troubles, with the forlorn hope that there might be, in that place, something waiting for you, something that would lift up your bruised spirits?
It took me about 15 minutes to write this, another five to revise it. My purpose is to show that a short story CAN be written in the second person point of view. I don’t think a novel can be. As for poetry, my favourite book of poems – Arun Kolatkar’s ‘Jejury’ – is mostly in the Second person. Look at some lines from the first poem, THE BUS:
You look down the roaring road.
You search for signs of daybreak in
what little lights spills out of the bus.
Your own devided face in a pair of glasses
On an oldman’s nose
Is all the countryside you get to see
Or look at the beginning of A LOW TEMPLE:
A low temple keeps its gods in the dark.
You lend a matchbox to the priest.
One by one the gods come to light.
There is one important difference that must be pointed out. In the passage I wrote the pronoun ‘you’ is singular. In ‘Jejuri’ it refers to the pilgrim-tourists, and so is plural. My writing is bad, just an exercise, but while writing it the memory of how I and two of my friends had climbed the Kutachadri – in 1957 or 58 – somehow oozed in. Kolatkar’s attitude is laid back, ironic. But for sheer intensity, read the poem AN OLD WOMAN in its entirety.
I started with the Second person narrative point of view because I thought I would be able to finish it in a few lines. It has taken a little longer. Perhaps one or two of you will try writing a short story in the Second person as a challenge. Remember, you will be among the pioneers.
I’ll take up the Third person poin