The Beguiling Word

Lit For Life 2017, The Hindu’s Literature Fest, brings in many voices and artists

Dalia N., III Year B. A. English

The Hindu Literature festival “Lit for Life” is a forum that shares ideas reinforced by facts and evidence. The Lit for Life 2017, held at the Lady Andal Premises from the 14th to 17th of January, was an eclectic experience involving discussions dealing with a wide range of subjects that ranged from colonial India to the India which is grappling with democracy. It welcomed the author Perumal Murugan back from the dead and introduced the city to Markus Zusak who stole hearts with his novel, “The Book Thief.” The festival involved a session for children that made it a one-of-a-kind literature festival in the country. The Hindu Prize was awarded to Kiran Doshi for his novel, “Jinnah Often Came to Our House.”

In a country where “freedom of expression” wades in murky waters, Lit for Life 2017 was a surrealistic experience. Words were exchanged liberally and consciously, words that could have been labelled seditious and words that opened new vistas to the mind.

Parallels were drawn from across the world to understand and interpret the human condition in general and to analyse the plight of an Indian. Understanding Gandhi as an idea that percolated through several generations, tackling the realisation that corruption was endemic to the Indian system, confronting the silence that soundproofed the mind clamorous with dissent, and was the chief highlight of the festival.

With India in focus, global paradigm shifts and national issues were openly discussed. Though it was an arena meant for discussion it seemed like an armoury which corroborated ideas. The plight of democracy being reduced to a textbook concept, the furore created over implications in a country where the right to express oneself is a fundamental right, the dovetailing economy and the placidity of the successors of a generation that challenged the British Empire were questioned.

For Perumal Murugan, words were a curse and a boon. Most of the scholars who were a part of the festival reflected over the deafening silence of the Indian community at a time when dissent is the only way to change.

A few days after the Lit Fest, the Youth in Tamil Nadu gathered in vast numbers in favour of Jallikattu. There outcry did not go unanswered. Such was the power of expression. Kanhaiya Kumar said that he did not mind being called a revolutionary if fighting for rights in a democracy is considered to be radical.

Words are funny things, they can be wretched too. They are remarkable beings that find their way on to the stage, the canvas, the streets. They are found everywhere and can be felt anywhere. But they are like the elusive will-o-wisps, they can bring peace, they invite wars, they tear communities apart and they can placate wounded hearts. Forums like the Lit Fest, plant such words in the hope of seeing them sprout when the time is right. But one should never forget Dahl’s warning, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”

[Photo Source: The Hindu]

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