Wednesday, February 7, 2007

My Favourite Short Story Writer - A. Muthulingam

Short story writer A. Muthulingam

Although I don't remember the year, when an Indian Magazine "Kalki" conducted an "Elathu Short Story competition", but I do remember reading the results of the competition . I read almost all the stories from that lot from the prize winning stories to the accepted for publication stories. But one story stood out in my memory. "Anula" by Muthulingam.

As a youth when I read it for the first time and again and again, this beautiful story got more and more into my heart and mind. I remember vividly the story line, the sentiments of the main character and hated his shabby treatment of Anula, my favourite charactor.. Up to the last line in the story - "How long I'm going to beg from you like this..the light went out. Not even a breeze..?"

This line I repeated to Mr.Muthulingam when I met him for the first time after trying to track him down for many years and many miles in between starting from Jaffna to Toronto.

Up to now I firmly believe "Anula" should have won the first prize in that competition. From the date, I read "Anula" in "Kalki" , I became the greatest fan of the writer. When I bought my first copy (I bought many copies thereafter) of his short story collection "Acca", it was my confirmation into his fan club. You may wonder why I bought many copies of "Acca" - Every time I lent them to my friends and they never got returned. Last copy I almost bought and missed on an eventful day in Jaffna. A curfew was set to begin from 5 p.m and I was rushing to my Inuvil home on my Bajaj Scooter (Many of my fans remember this scooter's colour - Orange) and when I was just passing Kannathiddy Junction and caught a glimpse of my favourite cover with a beautiful Peacock's blue-green coloured plumage - the cover of "Acca". As it was almost closer to the curfew hour, I was forced to come on the following day to "Srilanka Book Depot(?).

But to my dismay, that last copy was not there when I went on following day. The book depot people were very sympathetic but may be wondering about this fanatic, searched through all the cabinets, but "Acca" has gone. I never got a chance to go their again and the big time trouble erupted in Jaffna. Myself and my family was forced to abandon our beloved Inuvil and that was almost the end of my search for "Acca".

When I inquired about my favourite writer's whereabouts, I was told that he was working with U.N and flying around. Even I put a small note in my web seeking help to find him or his E-mail address and after some months, it has become an old and forgotten story.

Then there was a day on which some literary stalwarts assembled for a get together in Scarborough, Toronto and I was lucky enough to be invited without any literary credentials. Just before the start, the people around the table were asked to introduce themselves and line came round and at one point, I heard a soft voice telling "Muthulingam, writer of short stories". that's it. End of my search for my favourite writer.

We became good friends and he was nice enough to present me with an autographed copy of a collection of short stories -"A.Muthulingam Stories" . Finally a great replacement for my lost copies of "Acca".

Thanks.. creator of "Anula".

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