Frame of mind

Book Launch

Intrigued : Shashi Deshpande, Malavika Kapur, Narasimha and Jamuna.

Malavika Kapur book’s Ghosts and other friends was launched at the British Council last week. Published by Dronequill Publishers, the launch was marked by a discussion on the phenomena of ‘Ghosts’ and the existence of the paranormal.

Among those engaged in the discussion were Shashi Deshpande and scientist Rodham Narasimha. “I grew up in South Canara where ghosts were as common place as people or so they said. “They being the trades people, the domestic staff, the sweepers and pretty much anyone who had enough imagination and time and could spin a good yarn,” says Malavika.

Her collection of short stories are set in familiar locales and peppered with characters that one can can easily recognise or identify with. Well written, in a simple yet succinct style, the author manages to create the right mood and ambience for the little touches of mystery or intrigue that permeate her stories without getting too wordy or descriptive. The kind, spinsterish school teacher Mrs Mackenzie in Richmond Town, the crusty planter in the hills of Ooty, the long dead Col G K in the bylanes of Balepet who still surfaces to repair watches, the characters are both sympathetic and believable.

The discussion touched on topics related to the the supernatural as a subject that fascinates and intrigues most people, often evoking curiosity, speculation and even fear.

What exactly is the supernatural? It is not easily classified or categorised and can include areas of interest such as ghostly apparitions, alien visitation, the art of magic and witchcraft, spontaneous combustion, powers of the mind such as telepathy and telekinesis and much more. Concepts in the supernatural domain are often closely related to religious spirituality or occultism and South Kanara, Malavika’s birthplace is home to several rituals and practices closely associated with the local spirits or bhootas which may be either friendly or malevolent and are often prayed to or propitiated on a regular basis.

This background, coupled with her profession as a child psychologist is reflected in the way she subtly refrains from taking a stand on the question of the  existence or otherwise of the paranormal keeping to the role of a narrator. “ I found that very few publishers were willing to risk publishing a book on ghost stories and began to fear that my stories would never see the light of print,” she says candidly.

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