Free Expression

No one can stifle me, says Malayalam writer assaulted for insulting God

The title of P Jimshar's collection 'Padachon' is a colloquial term for Allah.

When P Jimshar received threatening messages on his mobile phone recently from people he didn't know, he didn't realise just how serious they were.

But the young Malayalam writer and filmmaker understood that the warning was for real late on Sunday, when a group of men beat him up at bus stop in Kerala's Palakkad district in Kerala.

Jimshar has reasons to believe that the assailants were provoked by the title of his new book.

The 26-year-old’s collection of stories, Padachonte Chithra Pradarshanam (God’s Photo Exhibition), is set to be launched in Kochi on August 5. The title refers to one of the nine stories in the book.

Padachon is a colloquial term for Allah, and it is widely used by Muslims all over Kerala.

Jimshar had begun to receive messages after he announced the release of his book through social media. “How dare you write about Padachon?,” warned his callers. "We will teach you a lesson."

Movements were monitored

The writer believes that the attackers monitored his movements. “How else did they know that I was at Koonam Muchi bus stop, where I was waiting for a bus to return home, at 10.30 pm?” he asked.

There were three assailants. How dare you to write about Padachon?" they asked Jimshar.

Jimshar, who was discharged from hospital on Monday, said that they first broke his shoulder. "As I was writing in pain, one of them kicked on my spine," he said. "The powerful blow made me lose my balance. I fell down, but the assailants were unmoved. They continued assaulting me until I almost lost consciousness.”

Jimshar had risen to prominence after his debut novel Bhoopadathil Ninnum Kuzhichedutha Kurippukal was picked as one of the four winners in the DC Kizhakkemuri birth centennary novel competition in 2014. Padachonte Chithrapradarshanam is his second book.

He has also worked as an assistant director for two mainstream Malayalam movies: Ennu Ninte Moideen directed by RS Vimal and Oru Murai Vanthu Paarthaya directed by Sajan K Mathew.

Jimshar said that the people who are provoked by the title of the book should read the story carefully. “It is about a family who loses everything following a road development," he said. "Yes, there is a presence of God in the story, but only readers can feel it.”

Many names for God

The story was first published in 2014 in Shantham Magazine. “People use different names to pray to the God," he said. "I preferred Padachon in the title of my book, as the word so dear to me.”

Jimshar strongly believes that every writer has own creative space and no one should be allowed to infringe upon it. “No one can stifle me through physical assaults," he said. "If you want to counter me, do it through your works, and not by means of physical assaults.”

Describing the attack as a clear case of growing intolerance, the writer said those who attacked him should realise that Padachon belongs to one and all. “They should not make God as their private property," he said. "Everyone is entitled to have a fair share of it.”

As if to prove that he hasn't been cowed down, Jimshar is currently working on new novel, Akasham.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The perpetual millennial quest for self-expression just got another boost

Making adulting in the new millennium easier, one step at a time.

Having come of age in the Age of the Internet, millennials had a rocky start to self-expression. Indeed, the internet allowed us to personalise things in unprecedented fashion and we really rose to the occasion. The learning curve to a straightforward firstname.surname@___mail.com email address was a long one, routed through cringeworthy e-mail ids like coolgal1234@hotmail.com. You know you had one - making a personalised e-mail id was a rite of passage for millennials after all.

Declaring yourself to be cool, a star, a princess or a hunk boy was a given (for how else would the world know?!). Those with eclectic tastes (read: juvenile groupies) would flaunt their artistic preferences with an elitist flair. You could take for granted that bitbybeatlemania@hotmail.com and hpfan@yahoo.com would listen to Bollywood music or read Archie comics only in private. The emo kids, meanwhile, had to learn the hard way that employers probably don’t trust candidates with e-mail ids such as depressingdystopian@gmail.com.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

And with chat rooms, early millennials had found a way to communicate, with...interesting results. The oldest crop of millennials (30+ year olds) learnt to deal with the realities of adolescent life hunched behind anonymous accounts, spewing their teenage hormone-laden angst, passion and idealism to other anonymous accounts. Skater_chick could hide her ineptitude for skating behind a convincing username and a skateboard-peddling red-haired avatar, and you could declare your fantasies of world domination, armed with the assurance that no one would take you seriously.

With the rise of blogging, millennial individualism found a way to express itself to millions of people across the world. The verbosity of ‘intellectual’ millennials even shone through in their blog URLs and names. GirlWhoTravels could now opine on her adventures on the road to those who actually cared about such things. The blogger behind scentofpetunia.blogspot.com could choose to totally ignore petunias and no one would question why. It’s a tradition still being staunchly upheld on Tumblr. You’re not really a Tumblr(er?) if you haven’t been inspired to test your creative limits while crafting your blog URL. Fantasy literature and anime fandoms to pop-culture fanatics and pizza lovers- it’s where people of all leanings go to let their alter ego thrive.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Then of course social media became the new front of self-expression on the Internet. Back when social media was too much of a millennial thing for anyone to meddle with, avatars and usernames were a window into your personality and fantasies. Suddenly, it was cool to post emo quotes of Meredith Grey on Facebook and update the world on the picturesque breakfast you had (or not). Twitter upped the pressure by limiting expression to 140 characters (now 280-have you heard?) and the brevity translated to the Twitter handles as well. The trend of sarcasm-and-wit-laden handles is still alive well and has only gotten more sophisticated with time. The blogging platform Medium makes the best of Twitter intellect in longform. It’s here that even businesses have cool account names!

Self-expression on the Internet and the millennials’ love for the personalised and customised has indeed seen an interesting trajectory. Most millennial adolescents of yore though are now grownups, navigating an adulting crisis of mammoth proportions. How to wake up in time for classes, how to keep the boss happy, how to keep from going broke every month, how to deal with the new F-word – Finances! Don’t judge, finances can be stressful at the beginning of a career. Forget investments, loans and debts, even matters of simple money transactions are riddled with scary terms like beneficiaries, NEFT, IMPS, RTGS and more. Then there’s the quadruple checking to make sure you input the correct card, IFSC or account number. If this wasn’t stressful enough, there’s the long wait while the cheque is cleared or the fund transfer is credited. Doesn’t it make you wish there was a simpler way to deal with it all? If life could just be like…

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Lo and behold, millennial prayers have been heard! Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first, has now integrated UPI on its digital platform, making banking over the phone easier than ever. Airtel Payments Bank UPI, or Unified Payment Interface, allows you to transfer funds and shop and pay bills instantly to anyone any time without the hassles of inputting any bank details – all through a unique Virtual Payment Address. In true millennial fashion, you can even create your own personalised UPI ID or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) with your name or number- like rhea@airtel or 9990011122@airtel. It’s the smartest, easiest and coolest way to pay, frankly, because you’re going to be the first person to actually make instant, costless payments, rather than claiming to do that and making people wait for hours.

To make life even simpler, with the My Airtel app, you can make digital payments both online and offline (using the Scan and Pay feature that uses a UPI QR code). Imagine, no more running to the ATM at the last minute when you accidentally opt for COD or don’t have exact change to pay for a cab or coffee! Opening an account takes less than three minutes and remembering your VPA requires you to literally remember your own name. Get started with a more customised banking experience here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel Payments Bank and not by the Scroll editorial team.