Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Powerless in Perambur

Author Sowmya Rajendran describes the process of writing 'Power Cut' , a Tulika title that is due for release shortly. Watch this space! 
Update: The book is now available on the Tulika site.

In 2005, Chennai was hit by a series of cyclones and thunderstorms. The power went off in Perambur (where I used to stay) for two days in a row. After celebrating the fact that the exams had been postponed, there was precious little to do - no TV, no computer, no cell phone (the battery died!) and nowhere to go! 

I did appreciate the beauty of the rain, the extra-fresh greenery of the garden and the happy frogs, but these could not entertain me forever. My parents, too, had nothing to do- which is a rare occurrence. So we sat around the drawing room and played word games. Not knowing when the power would come back gave the situation a tinge of happy fatalism. All we had to do was eat endless packets of Marie biscuits and play. This was a license to be lazy and we used it to the maximum!

It was a lot of fun and it brought back memories from my childhood when I used to make animal shadows in candle-light. There’s nothing unique about that experience- every child would have made a deer or a bird or something when the candles were out on the table. And it’s this non-uniqueness that prompted me to write Power Cut. We’ve all done it and I thought it’ll be fun to see it as a book.

The story is in first person. I struggled a bit while trying to decide what to call the parents - I tried writing with ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ but it seemed strange to me because I was picturing them as my parents. So I made them ‘Amma’ and ‘Acha’ (which is what I call them). This got changed in the editing since the story is being translated into other languages- quite understandable and I’m very happy with the way the final manuscript looks, too!

I still make animal shadows when the power goes off, the darkness makes grown-ups stop worrying about looking silly. I think if we worried about it a lot lesser even otherwise, we’d be much happier.

- Sowmya Rajendran