If collective memory is the best source of history, authorities in Kerala's Kasaragod district are all set to make an example for it. They have mooted the idea of a people's archive about the region's COVID-19 days.
The panchayat department in Kasaragod is planning to compile people's memories and experiences during the COVID-19 days in the form of a book titled 'Ezhuthola'. Creative writings across genres like essays, short stories and poems will be included in the book. Authorities said people from all the 38 panchayats in the district will be contributing to the archive.
People, local body representatives as well as employees of the panchayats can submit their entries for the book. Apart from Malayalam, entries could also be in Kannada or Tulu, other languages spoken in the district. Essays have to be on topics related to the preventive efforts to rein in COVID-19. Stories and poems could be on any topic.
“Kasaragod, being the worst hit district in Kerala, is on the path of recovery through systematic efforts to contain the pandemic. The panchayat department had played an important role in sensitising people about the dangers of the virus as well as ensuring their well-beingness during the lockdown. We had even arranged to distribute books to the people who got stuck in their homes. The idea of a people's archive is in continuation with those efforts,” said deputy director of panchayats, Kasaragod, K K Rejikumar .
Titanic violin scene
He compared the idea of the book with the iconic violin sequence in the Hollywood movie Titanic. “We have seen how the musicians played the music with great composure even at the face of death in the film. When we thought of the book, it was this scene that came to my mind first. The best way to overcome the pressures of a tragedy is to rely on our creative skills,” he said.
He also cited the importance of the archival value of such a book. “This is probably the first time the world has gone through such a harrowing experience. Kasaragod has also had its share of sufferings. The district also showed great resilience and fought back the virus. We have to keep a record of all these for the generations to come,” he said.
He said eminent writers in the district will be requested to contribute to the work.
Nothing against government
Writers may call it a breach of the freedom of expression but being a government initiative, there are some conditions for the entries invited for 'Ezhuthola'. The writings should not be anti-national or critical of the government's policies and actions. They should also not incite religious enmity.
Entries, attached with the writer's name, age and address and a photograph, could be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit to the panchayat office nearby. Writers should mention their panchayat in the details. Last date for submitting entries is May 3.