Literature And Serendipity

By Kokila Gupta

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On a sunny March day when I had given my consent to guide budding poets at Wizkidscarnival, little did I know what I was in for.

As I’d always believed in having an eventful life, I was completely unperturbed by the unexpected offer from the founders. After all, what is life if not a series of surprises?

Paradoxically, this very conviction has robbed me of feeling surprised at many surprising situations in the past.

Returning to Wizkidscarnival, I found myself completely unprepared for what followed.

For starters, the entries grew in numbers, first steadily and then overwhelmingly; so much so that we have to get extra hands and minds!

Gradually, the poets worked on their feedback and the qualitative level grew up too, again steadily and overwhelmingly, which of course was expected, but what I was not expecting was the emotional connect I’d be going to forge with these children.

Nor was I prepared for the contrasting feelings I was soon going to experience!

Like, I was not prepared for the irritation I felt when a child misread an instruction and lost a rank, but at the same time I was not at all prepared for my disheartened self when some erratic parent pushed a child too hard just for a rank!

I was unprepared for the profuse emotion I’d feel when a child would recite melancholia with amazing perfection; and equally unprepared to soothe the heart-ache they gave me with their profound imagery!

I found myself unfit to rein in my own laughter in moments when my sombre graceful poets giggled uncontrollably while a younger sibling barged into the video during recitals, and equally ill-equipped to hide my amusement as my little poets mouthed words complicated enough to tie their tongues into knots! I also found myself unprepared for that swell of pride in my heart when they’d recite with perfect decorum, that gulp in my throat when a child recited a wounded soldier’s emotions with nuanced cadences, unprepared for the variety of poems I’d be introduced to, unprepared for the diversity of my own country I’d experience through submissions from Kottayam to Kashmir and West Bengal to Jaipur, the entire length and breadth of the nation!

Oh, I was unprepared for the wonderful glimpse I got into the mind of tomorrow’s generation, a mind with clarity, a mind with focus, a mind proud of their own culture while being receptive to others, a mind fertile with imagination, and a mind which can easily co-exist with a sharp brain and a delicate heart. How unprepared I was to get dazzled by the brightness of their intellect and ability!

Unprepared for my growing admiration for these participants which became kinda pupils of mine , unprepared for the self investment I eagerly did while guiding them as I patiently read and listened to their poems till the wee hours of dawn…

For a self proclaimed introvert, who never corrected anyone unless it was in my Life Science lecture room- my ethical and moral jurisdiction, this journey from a class of sixty post-graduate students with scalpels in their hands to a batch of hundreds of youngsters with literature on their minds, has been incredible, something I was not prepared for.

I felt blessed as I could discern the soft but steady footsteps of literary growth, could listen to the frantic scratching of pen on paper as my young poets scribbled and scribbled; as they burnt midnight oil working on themselves and blossomed, their mental emotional petals unfolding unlocking poetry into the air.

Life indeed had caught me off guard, but strangely enough, I’d never felt more grateful!

And why wouldn’t I ?

Haven’t I always believed that the best gifts are the unexpected ones?

Hence, what can be more valuable than to be in the august company of the future poets and writers of my country, to behold the literary tomorrow of my nation, and to experience it unfurl, gently… one word, one phrase, one poem at a time.

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