About the Book Box, Suraj Rai
My name is Suraj Rai. I work with my comrades at the LNJP Compughar and want to talk with you about the Book Box.
These books in the Book Box, which are in different colours, are perhaps easy to look at and to read. But we know how much effort has gone into producing them. There has been a careful process of selection of texts, so that you may like them. When we write, we don't really know what the beginning of the text will be, or how the text will end, or what we will really be writing about. When we do arrive at a beginning, we not only have to write the text but also pay attention to where to sit and write it, what time of the day we should chose, pay attention to the sounds around us, from where the light falls, and how we should express in words what we want to communicate. Sometimes everyday incidents in buses or on the road get written so interestingly that even the mundane becomes intriguing and compels us to think.
How the slightest of our gestures affect people is something Yashoda draws out beautifully in the text she has written around the veil. When she read out her text, everyone had such different views about it. We moulded it with our own imaginations, everyone's face seemed to carry a question.
Writing is not the end. The texts have to be typed. And before that, we have to edit and rewrite some of what we have written. We think about which words need to carry more weight, which can be lighter. And also pay attention to spellings and grammar; where should the question marks come, the full stops, the inverted commas.
Our writings, generally, don't have a beginning, middle and end. The texts stop at a slight turning, leaving the reader or listener with things to think about - the sense of completion is never achieved. Some texts are but fragments. These, when they are read out at the lab, open up the possibility of different people relaying their own reflections and experiences and linking them up with these texts. Also, spinning a tale from a small, seemingly insignificant incident, is something we find quite challenging and so love doing! It isn't easy for us to write. Household chores, work at the lab and our erratic moods are things to contend with!
But one special things about our writings is that we use spoken language, so they are easy to read. The liberal sprinkling of urdu words makes for a rich reading.
Then there is the CD in the Book Box. It contains animations which require a lot of skill and precision to make, and also demand an imagination and creativity very different from that required by writing. Animations are composed of different layers, each layer has to be copied onto the next one and then modifications are made to them.
The CD also has sound. Sound, and listening, is very important in our everyday life. Taking interviews is not as easy as hearing the recorded versions is! When we ask questions, the interviewee is often skeptical of us. We have to take special care to communicate clearly, and to understand their feelings as well. Sometimes we do recordings without disclosing our dictaphones! Because we use stereo microphones, many sounds get recorded inadvertantly during interviews. But we also record ambience sounds and our own readings as well.
Now that I have told you all this, I have a question - Is it necessary to weigh everything in the balance of profit and loss? We are often asked how we will benefit from doing all this. Those who have met us at the lab would have seen a peculiar shine in our eyes, which tells that we are confident that we can think about different things, tussle with difficult questions, and speak fearlessly. It is from the ocean of our thoughts that we have presented these rivulets of small books to you.
I agree that the future is uncertain. The destination is far, and the question of profit is just a short-cut. Is this short-cut the only possible route? Our path may seem unadorned right now, but who knows what oasis along it presently lie hidden from our view. But these oasis are just resting places, the journey is long.
If there is nothing to gain from this path, there is nothing to lose either.
Now Shahana will come on stage and speak about her experiences of reading the book box.
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