Silence of the scream

The story of the ‘Book of the Red Hill’

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

The old man with a beard
Was always on time
Sipping tea
And brooding
Looking at the bubbling mass of people
Moving on road.

Sometimes 
I noticed more gray
In his beard
May be
Those days were harder on him

Sometimes 
I saw a little trace of smile
In those weary eyes

May be
He got a letter from his kids
Or may be 
Some long lost love.

Somedays
He was like a cloudy sky
Ready to burst in rain
Anytime 

Somedays
I could just feel the feeble sun
Barely there
But there.

The tea
And the old man
Sipped each other
Everyday 
And I 
Never got to know
The secret…

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

I am not trained to be a painter. I am a successful photographer and have been practicing photography for the last 35 years. I was living in Mattancherry, Cochin until 2010, working, gathering people and organising public art events in my studio ‘Mayalokam’. Although, it was a personal reason that urged me to leave Cochin, I believe metaphorically it was the right time to flow, as Imam Safi says, ‘flowing river is clean; stagnant water is dirty;’ Yes, there is comfort of the family and familiar surroundings, the certainty of material life and the blurred vision of the future… but at some point I had to move on. I called my friend Bawa Chelladurai, noted short story writer and mentioned my need to leave Cochin. He said in a friendly, understanding tone, ‘Comrade come to Tiruvannmalai… we will take care of you!!!’ I fondly recollected my first encounter with the Agni Shylam. Almost 20 years back, I was travelling to Pondicherry by bus. It was still dark. I was awakened by the voice of the conductor yelling, ‘last stop… get down!!’ I got down with my shoulder bag, booked a room and slept through the rest of the night. Morning I woke up to see a hill and wondered how come a mountain in Pondy!!! Too tired to ask anybody, I started walking around the mountain, seeing and feeling the different faces of the place I happened to be. I was inquisitive and the more I explored, the more I felt at home and ease. Since then I have visited Tiruvannamalai several times. Somehow, I was being pulled by the magnetic light of the fire mountain. I moved to Thiru early 2010. I left all my belongings behind including my precious cameras. I took my car Sophia and began my long journey to Tiruvannamalai from my hometown Mattancherry. At Thiru, I mostly spent my time in quiet contemplation, observing the town and the hill. Arunai Tea stall is one of my favourite spots. Sri Ramana Ashram, Yogi Suratkumar Ashram, Kannapan Nayanar temple and many places around Arunachala are the places I frequent. So is the whisky bars where locals hang. As an artist I am always keen on seeing the personalities beneath people’s surface appearances. I bought a small notebook from Ramana Ashram and scribbled the personalities / situations I come across. These life lines became a reservoir of my silent screams. I started sharing these doodles with my friends PP Sha Nawas (Journalist and independent writer) and Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi. I also started posting these images on facebook. Many a friends enjoyed this series and suggested a book. However, a book was never in my mind. After the formation of EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photography), these images were shared on a regular basis by the office. Sunita Jugran, a young mother, an unknown upcoming poet came across these scribbles /doodles on facebook and started creating verses from these images… she actually found words to my silent screams… . these mundane images of my visual experience of Tiruvannamalai speak louder with Sunita’s poems. Many of my friends started talking about the verses, the strength of her words, its simplicity, and its spiritual dimension.

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 - 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

Doodles from photographer Abul Kalam Azad 2010 – 2013 / Book of the Red Hill

 

EtP has decided to print limited edition serigraphy books featuring my doodles and Sunita’s poems… The book titled ‘Book of the Red Hill’ will feature 60 doodles and poems. Thank you Sunita, for discovering words for my deep silence.

18th October 2014

Tiruvannamalai

(C) All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of  contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. Text transcribed by TSL Nadar. Poem (C) Sunita Jugran. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing, For more information call {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405  or mail to ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Abul Kalam Azad