A few months back, a dear friend subscribed Mathrubhumi magazine in my name. After a gap of more than ten years the magazines sealed carelessly in plastic covers had begun to sail towards me crossing oceans.
It wasn't dejavu this time, even as I opened the first magazine in exhilaration trying to reach across the other side of a reader's memory. I can recall the places I'd been when I read some of the landmarks printed in Malayalam. More than the reference-worthiness, what fascinated me was its ability to provoke curiosity and earnestness to causes bigger than oneself without being elitist.
M.T. Vasudevan Nair used to write editor's note for a while. He wrote about child labor and how Chekhov's Vanka pained his conscience. Another note quoted the Indian chief's profound and poetic letter to the great white chiefs in Washington of his fears for the fragile ecosystem and the dying earth's providence. That was when O.V. Vijayan's eco-fiction Madhuram Gayati had begun serializing in Mathrubhumi.
Earlier, scholar and poet N.V. Krishna Warrier led the editorial team. I could sense their quite confidence and brilliance in the way they put out the magazine and paved way for intelligent and insightful discourses. I couldn't have known Nitya or Octavia Paz or Brodsky the way I did had it not been the space given to independent thinkers in the pages of the magazine.
Another major attraction was the illutrations of A.S and Nampoothiri who complemented writers' imagination and more often than not surpassed readers' mental image of the landscapes and characters.
Somehow the magazine managed to complement my eclectic and random reading delightfully. I still remember reading Kamala Das's childhood memoir and V.K.N's inimitable Payyan tales. Same pages had varied and unique voices of the world - Axel Munthe, V.S Khandekar, Sunil Gangopadhyaya, Bhishma Sahni and Marquez who romanticized his own private cinema paradiso in the rickety movie halls in Bogota.
The reappearance of this magazine in another shore isn't connecting with me. May be I am left behind. Or I am more into connecting the dots between NPR radio and nytimes.com now. Since the primary readers of Mathrubhumi live faraway, their perception of reality and worldview is now circumstantially remote.
Yet I am indebted to my friend who cared way more than I ever did to do this for me. Thank you P.K.