Kerala Boy
TAKE on art|July - December 2017

The Kerala boy stands alone, facing the sea or what looks like the sea. Water is never far from his feet. His eyes are dark and his hair is blacker than the best Tellicherry pepper. He is an inch taller than most and a little long in the tooth. He likes the language of protest. He likes the flavour of a season called ‘Left’.

V. Sanjay Kumar

Kerala is a country. It is self-sufficient. You can feel an undercurrent in its tea shops and its colleges. Discussion runs around with its tail on fire but differences stay grounded, rooted and forever the same, and people hold their ground and meet you half-way, like the local language, a palindrome called Malayalam. Outside a literacy percentage hangs proudly from a coconut tree. Poets speak in a language that rolls its consonants and sucks in its tongue; writers sit in a paddy field and the green sway hides serpents; a dance uses make-up as masquerade. Standing there, taking in the breeze and observing all this, a Namboodri thinks of gesture. Behind him the setting sun finds no horizon worthy, and retires amongst some trees.

This is me, Krishna Kumar, in my native avatar, looking a little older and facing a ‘situation’. Every ‘situation’ in Kerala is a mystery where the past collides with the future and the present remains less than satisfactory.

‘Where do you think you are going?’ is the question you are asked in Kerala.

‘Where I am?’ is the question you have, as an artist.

I am standing still in my boat, at the bow. I am alone and it is a moonless night. The light comes from a traditional oil lamp. I want to dance. My stance is precarious. Only my eyebrows are alive and they are trying to express like Mohanlal did in the film Vanaprastham. The principal character in Vanaprastham is a low caste, male, Kathakali dancer.

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