Over the last two years, my reading sensibilities have been influenced by the Mathrubhoomi weekly. My relationship with this magazine has been rather interesting. A good six years or so ago, someone recommended it to me and I tried it out. Quite frankly, I was bored out of my skull with it. Then again I came back to it two years ago and since then it has formed a part of my life. The tag line that the magazine employs Aazhameriya vaayana, aazhcha thorum (Translates into : In-depth reading of topics, on a weekly basis) has become rather true for me too. Some weeks are rather funny when I do not read half the topics and on some weeks it is a cover-to-cover read. Spanning across social, political, economic, cultural and literary landscapes of Kerala and the nation is the range of this magazine. It has formed a part of Kerala’s literary history too. Many a legendary novel has been serialized in the pages of this novel : O.V. Vijayan’s Khasakinte Ithihasam, Kovilan’s Thattakam, Punathil Kunjabdulla’s Smarakashilakal, Mukundan’s Mayyazhipuzhayude Theerangalil and Lalithambika Antharjanam’s Agnisakshi are but a few of the major novels that first saw light in the pages of this magazine. Then again there has been the short stories, many of which were genre defining ones that were first published in Mathrubhoomi. I remember Sakhariya’s Oridam, MT’s Iruttinte Aathmavu, Unni’s Leela, Anand’s Vishnu from the top of my memory. So to sum it all up, this is one kickass magazine !
I did not write this long paragraph full of gushing to talk about the magazine but about an article that caught my eye this week. The cover story this week has been on forest fires in the Wayanad area of Calicut district. To us city dwellers, a forest fire is just part of the background and not a newsworthy item. To the government it is another piece of statistics about the hectares of forest land lost in the fire and of the wood we lost and hence the monetary loss for the government. But what of the trees that died ? What of the birds, the squirrels, the snakes and the little creatures too small enough to even cry out in the pain of being burned alive ? The photographs published by the magazine are too harsh to look at. A one lush, green fertile forest is now a graveyard of burnt, dead trees and mountains of ash. We can always shelve it as an isolated occurrence and nothing much to worry about but look at where we are heading. The sun is too harsh, water shortage is a reality and we cannot always delve into the comforting softness of the air conditioning. After all, how long will electricity last ! I do bear the label of being an armchair conservationist for beyond these words of angst, I myself have done nothing to change the world I live in ! It is shameful yes and quite hard to imagine that one day this world will be without forests, without greenery and we will end up in a desert. As the saying goes, when the last tree is cut down and the last river dries up, man will know that he cannot eat his money.
In the microcosm of my little World, to one side of my house was a sizably large tract of land lush with greenery. There were trees abound and they buzzed with the activity of birds. The place had quite a lot of rodents, snakes and cats and the occasional dog or two. Weekends and early mornings were a sight to behold for to see the sun shining down on that wonderful carpet of greenery or the rain falling on it were totally blissful. One evening, coming back from work I was treated to a most horrifying scene. The trees had been felled and the grass cut away and it looked a wasteland to my eyes. To my questions of what happened, the answer was An apartment complex is coming up there . There was nothing more heartbreaking than not hearing the birds or the little creatures anymore. And now, I wake up and see the ugly walls of the building looking down on me. Not many birds roost there, it is just a wasteland now.
A tiger once came out of the jungle in Wayanad a few months ago and it was finally hunted down and killed. There was a statement made by a political leader that ‘Wild animals should behave themselves’ ! I did not know whether to laugh or look bewildered !
Closing lines can never come better than Agent Smith’s monologue in The Matrix : I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.