Follow Up

‘Baptism’ with letters behind the bars

Friday, Jan 8, 2016,22:48 IST By T S Naufia & Meera Radhakrishnan A A A

During the course of a prison term a rare transformation took place where a pupa caught inside the shell of an ill fate broke open it to come out as a butterfly spreading colours and hope to the world around. A long 12 years imprisonment moulded an eighteen year old boy Shaji Kumar into a writer. The huge walls of Thiruvananthapuram central jail witnessed that transformation.
The story of Shaji Kumar, a Balaramapuram native, is as much as unbelievable as a cult fiction. When he was a student in Sanskrit College, Thiruvananthapuram, he was arrested. When asks on this, his eyes fill with guilty conscious and very slowly he says, ”That happened, he was my relative..not purposely…my age did it…not me..”.
Yes, many gaps are in between which we ought to fill. To forget about all the problems and worries, that short span of time in life had forced upon him, he was becoming fond of books and later books became his best friends ever. The library in the central jail, opened a wonderful world to him. He recognised that reading is a perfect stress reliever.
The dark corridors of the jail and the loneliness filled with darkness in mind, prompted him to be the friend of the books, where he lost himself in between the lines and could find himself in some awesome imaginary world that was eventually moulding a new man in his self.
He owes credit to the central jail library for his transformation from a culprit to a blog writer. Those who read blogs might have noticed his name. Shaji Kumar says about his real life, in which no imaginations, nothing. The story of an eighteen year youth, his sufferings, his loss of the colourful days in life and of course, how he filled the dark room in the central jail with dreams, imaginations acquired from reading.
He was released from the prison in 2010 and continues his literary works. He started his literary works from 2002 when he was in jail. In the initial stages, he didn’t take it as seriously, but later he recognised a writer in him. The appreciation he has got from his friends and some policemen, prompted him to dream on. Meanwhile, one of his poems was published in a magazine.
He is a painting labourer now. Due to the financial crunch, he couldn’t publish an anthology of poems and short stories which was his ever dream. So he started to write in blogs. 17 short stories are published. His big dream is to write an autobiography. He is staying in Balaramapuram with his wife Shanti and a four year old son.
He has written a film script, but no takers because of a belief that it does not hold the recipe for a commercial flick. Many approached him to reform the script, to adapt it for a commercial film but he was skeptical. Many approaches him with the proposal to write about his experiences in jail. But he kept no interest. He awaits a time when his works reach readers in the form of books, in the form of the same books that once guided his soul.