I have been trying for a while now to persuade my writer friend and wife’s cousin Lakshmi Ramanan to go digital. She has much to showcase on the web by way of her writings. But then Shyamala (that’s how she is known in family circles) stonewalls my suggestion , saying that being a housewife is a 24×7 job ; plus, as an IAS wife she has a social role to fulfil, even though her husband is no longer in service. Mr T V Ramanan retired as chief secretary to Rajasthan govt.
Shyamala is on Facebook, but she rarely accesses it. A message I had left on her page several weeks back still remains unread. She has an e-mail account, but she doesn’t check mail for days at a stretch. Shaymala’s case that she doesn’t have time for networking may have merit. But those who see the benefit in browsing the Net and social networking – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Shelffari – take time out to be online. There are writers who can’t imagine a life without a laptop.
Viewed in this light, her phone call the other day came as a surprise ; she called me to inform that she was on the worldwide web. A noted writer/journalist Bakkiyam Ramasami spotted her work in recent book and promptly put it on his website. Shyamala said more of her work may well show up on Appusami.com in the coming weeks. (To access Appusami links, open this post with Internet Explorer ; Mozilla brings up a garbled version of the Tamil sites on my computer.)
Ramasami is known among the Tamils the world over as creator of Appusami, a cartoon character , who, in the four decades since his creation, has taken varied incarnations – as student leader, magician, Sidha vaidyar, freedom fighter, dacoit Veerappan chaser in the jungles of Sathy, suicide bomber and photographer. Appusami has been a lead charecter in several Tamil plays and TV serials; he has a Chennai-based humor club named after him .
By putting Shyamala’s woes of growing a mango tree on her frontyard on the web Mr Ramasami has given a new life and worldwide readership to her earlier writings. Hopefully, more of Shayamala would be seen on Appusami dot com in the coming weeks and months. Lakshmi Ramanan has reason to feel pleased about the development. Her magazine pieces, printed in back editions pulped years ago, get a new lease of life on the web. The thing about having your stuff on the web is that anyone, anywhere can access, re-visit or simply stumble on it, anytime.
Being online, on the web, has a way of keeping your writings ‘alive’ , and open to comments by readers . What’s more, Shyamala can now review, re-write, and put in perspective her mango tree article, for the benefit of today’s readers. As a writer brought up in the old school, Shyamala still works with pen and paper and writes her articles in longhand for submission to editors. She could do with help from the likes of Vijaya Jyotsna who has devised a five-day course in ‘Neteracy’ for seniors.
Mrs Ramanan finds time for writing by squeezing in 26 hours in her 24-hour day as housewife - wakes up at 4 a m or does her writing late into the night when her household is asleep. Shyamala, who started writing in her college days at Delhi’s Indraprastha College, keeps up a steady flow of articles for Kumudam, Bhakti Special, Mangaiyar Malar, Vikatan and Diwali specials of some Tamil periodicals.