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POETRY in uniform

For this army man, who is a security guard now, lyric writing is much more than a hobby, it's his very life.


HIS POCKETS are stuffed with small, different coloured paper bits. Each one of them has words, in no particular order, scribbled on it. Some of them seem to have gone though some sort of rough editing for there are signs of words being replaced by new ones and crude editing symbols indicating changes. For K. Samuel, these are priced possessions. They are outpourings of his heart, memories that have left scars, images that have never lost their sheen not necessarily in any symmetrical pattern. When Samuel joins them together, transferring them from those tattered bits to fresh sheets of paper, they take the shape of poems. His vocation as a security guard allows him little scope for creativity, but his spare time is completely devoted to words.

Jesudas, his hero

This has been a habit for Samuel since he was in school. He never wrote them as poems as such but as songs that he hoped would one day be sung. "Ever since I happened to listen to K. J. Jesudas at the school in Karunagappally where I was studying, it has been my dream to sing like him. Soon I realised that this was not going to be realised with the kind of voice I had. But there was another option. To at least write songs, which would one day be sung by that great singer," says Samuel, who now works as security guard in a private agency.

Though that dream has not yet come true, Samuel had the satisfaction of having ten romantic songs set to tune and sung by popular singers like M. G. Sreekumar, Madhu Balakrishnan and Radhika Thilak in a audio album `Thanka Nilavu' that he himself produced. "I must have spent nearly a lakh rupees on this album, but I do not regret it at all. It brought me into contact with so many singers and musicians and above all was delighted to see my lyrics come alive."

Sabarimala pilgrimage

Strangely, the credits on the album give his name as Nambeesan Nadackal. "There is a strange incident which brought about this.

"My legs and arms suddenly began to develop blisters that began to open up and bleed. For more than a year I was in terrible pain, had gone around meeting so many doctors and going through various methods of treatment. It was then that I decided to take the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. This may sound a bit like an exaggerated tale but the truth is that I began finding vast improvement in my ailment. And a few months later, only the scars remained. Since then I have been going to this hill shrine regularly. Wherever I am, my mind, my thoughts are there. My belief in the Lord is absolute and so the name Nambeesan Nadackal."

For 27 years Samuel served in the Indian Army as a driver and later for three years in Saudi Arabia. "Life was always a struggle for me. I had to stop studies, as my father could not afford the expenses. I did a few odd jobs till I managed to get into the Army. Here again it was moving from one place to another on transfers, was posted in Rajasthan during the 1971 war entrusted with the job of carrying rations to the soldiers on the front. Then it was the heat and dust of the deserts of Saudi Arabia. All the while, I kept writing. The people I met, the experiences I went through, the places I saw, have all found their way as words."


Encouragement

Now settled in Kochi, after having both his daughters happily married, Samuel is thankful to his present employers for their encouragement. "They have been really very helpful in giving me the right kind of posting and duty timings."

The long cherished dream of having his songs set to tune and sung has been achieved. Samuel is still stuck in marketing his album. But he is unfazed. Samuel has already embarked on his next project. "Ten Ayyappan songs and Christian devotionals are ready. Venuji Mulavukkad, who has composed the music for my first album is working on the Ayyappan songs, which hopefully must be ready for this year's Sabarimala season."

While all this goes on one dream remains unfulfilled and that is to have Jesudas sing one of his songs.

K. PRADEEP

Photo by K. K. Mustafah

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