When I was living in Kuala Lumpur, my mother sent me a few books from India for my 21st birthday. One of them was “A Poem To Courage” by Manohar Devadoss – and I knew as soon as I saw the cover why she had chosen it. To my eye, and to hers, I resembled the woman in the line drawing on its cover. That woman was Mahema Devadoss.
The story of Mr. and Mrs. Devadoss is not unfamiliar to many in Chennai. Mr. Devadoss is a visually-impaired artist and author. Mrs. Devadoss became a quadriplegic following a car accident, but continued to draw and paint for several decades afterward.
It was truly meaningful for me to be asked to record the part of Mahema Devadoss in Karadi Tales’ new audiobook on the much-loved artist couple. “A Quiet Courage” will be launched in Chennai on August 7th.
“When the imagination is given sight by passion, it sees darkness as well as light. To feel so ferociously is to feel contempt as well as pride, hatred as well as love. These proud contempts, this hating love, often earn the writer a nation’s wrath. The nation requires anthems, flags. The poet offers discord. Rags.”
– Salman Rushdie, from “Notes on Writing and the Nation”
Read the rest. The essay appears in the brilliant Step Across This Line. I recommend reading the first piece, and then the others out of order. Reading his dispatches from the fatwa years before the essay I quote from, readings deepened by my own recent demonization from blogger among millions to enemy of the state, leaves me with an immense renewed respect for Rushdie. The person as much as the genius.