By Nikhil Raghavan
Forty odd years after I put pen to paper, my journey through the maze of journalism seems to have completed its first full circle, in many different aspects.
Actually, the journey may have started even before that, during my formative years as a student of St. Michael’s Anglo-Indian Boys High School in Cannanore, Kerala. A school steeped in literary tradition driven by dedicated and passionate Jesuit priests, including an American missionary who excelled in Shakespeare. Gaining language skills, theatrical stints, essay writing and other literary activities, stamped a permanent mark in me to express myself in the written word, at the drop of a hat.
Much later in my youth, especially during the mandatory wayward days of a Flower Power Generation, I was introduced to a radical, yet progressive and inspirational magazine – JS, Junior Statesman from the house of The Statesman in Calcutta. Thus began my writing career, in a more serious manner. Writing about youth-related matters took me to the portals of other publications like Youth Times (Times of India publication), Hi (Blitz publication), Upbeat, etc.
Then, the need to get into a steadier corporate life reared its head and from 1978 onwards for about 20 years, I pursued a career in the music industry, occasionally indulging in writing about singers, albums, musicians etc. but not in a serious way.
When it was time to hang up my corporate boots and explore a more creative and satisfying life, I was fortunate to fall into the journalistically rich and creative lap of The Hindu. This set off a fulfilling career in freelance journalism coupled with production skills to bring out feature after feature on different topics and subjects as well as launch a few exciting editorial products.
Simultaneously, an opportunity cropped up to start contributions to The Week magazine from the house of Malayala Manorama. After establishing a creditable rapport with both these publications, which continues to date, I developed excellent editing skills which I could put to good use for those who wanted to hire my services as an editor. I had also floated an agency to encourage and nurture freelancers and channelize their work to other publications.
Now, after twenty years of freelancing, during which I have never written a word of fiction, a new avatar of my writing style seems to have emerged. Encouraged by a leading publisher and editor, an Anglo-Indian to boot – Harry MacLure, I set about writing my first fictional short story.
Without a clue as to what the story line should be and deviating from my usual style of writing down on paper, the first paragraph, I keyed in the first line on my laptop. Thereafter, magically the words and sentences tumbled out of my imagination and through the keyboard, appeared on to the blank page of a Word document. I was surprised at myself at how the narrative flowed and within two hours, a 2500-word story was staring at me from the screen.
Yes, the journalistic journey had come a full circle – from the portals of an Anglo-Indian school, encouraged by Anglo-Indian teachers to yet another Anglo-Indian Editor who pulled the proverbial rabbit out of my literary hat. The result? A fictional short story with a touch of the paranormal, due to be published as part of an anthology by Anglo-Ink, by Harry MacLure.
A new circle has started, I feel. Two story ideas which have been lurking in the deep recesses of my mind have been pulled out for further exploration, to eventually form the content for possible novels.