Though I was born in Tirunelveli near Kanyakumari the southernmost tip of India, I have never lived there. A major part of my life was spent in places spread all over India like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and few other places. In fact, I lived for nearly thirty years in the State of Gujarat, but now I have settled down after retirement in Chennai in Tamilnadu, India, which is my home town.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Home is where you can be yourself. Home is where the heart is. But if you mean where I stay, I can only say, Chennai is my hometown and the greatest thing about it is the cultural ethos that prevails. It is the home of classical dances like Bharatanatyam and Carnatic classical music. The state of Tamilnadu abounds in temples which are some thousand years old and are famous for their sculptures and architecture and also the long stretches of beaches. Since I have lived in various places across India, I consider the whole country as my home. The great thing about India, is its diversity, whether it be language, culture, habits, or food.
What turns you on creatively?
My need to create stems from my need to be authentic and express myself, to explore and find answers, whether it be a feeling of elation or anxiety. My very first writings were in the form of poetry stirred by the beauty of nature and romance. From rhyme to free verse, and then to prose, reflected my transition from wonderment to existential angst. I have explored various avenues of self-expression. For example, I was in the United States during the Fall and the colors took my breath away. It resulted in me capturing all that through photography and subsequently painting. Apart from wanting to put into words the various encounters with people I meet and the stories they have to tell, it takes me a step forward in understanding what this life is about. So yes, the need to understand myself makes me create.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
My favorite word is Silence. It is the ultimate language of the soul, the silence of the supreme. Silence is beyond definition. We can only say that it is the absence of sound. It is synonymous with Infinity or trying to define Ultimate Reality.
I will quote a passage from my book ‘The Diary of Mrityunjay’ –
“I did not have to tell her anything for she already knew. And as the sun set, we sat on the banks of the Ganges listening to the music of the river and the retreating birds. A cool breeze caressed my face and as the sun disappeared and darkness slowly settled in, I held her hand”.
It is the silence here which is a powerful interpreter of emotions, any spoken word would have diluted the feeling. I am reminded of what the Buddha says about silence – “Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence”. Many years ago, I wrote a poem titled ‘Silence’ which finds it place in my collection of poems titled ‘Secrets of the Soul – A Journey in Verse’
Tonight, I discovered God, In the coolness of the winter’s night, In the brightness of the full moonlight, In the gentle rustle of ghostly shadows. And I found God, In this Silence that encircled me.
What is your pet peeve?
It is ‘Apathy’ that I am annoyed with. I know that I am not free from it either. The indifference with which we look at things around us. We do not care enough. I am appalled at what is happening outside. But how concerned am I? Well, I had to accept that as long as nothing happens to my dear and near ones and I am safe, I can only afford to speculate on the travails of the common man on the street, and maybe sympathize.
It is this apathy which forced me to start a series of posts on my blog titled ‘A Question of Conscience’. It is my way of looking at my own distortions. I realized that my writings have always tended towards exploring an individual’s anxiety rather than taking a stand on the plight of the individual in what at most times comes across as an indifferent world. In my first post in the series I have tried to explore the plight of the migrant with specific reference to what is happening at the present moment. Maybe I can make a difference by contributing towards what I term as ‘Collective Conscience’, through what I write.
What defines GS Subbu?
I have been and still am a seeker and my books are a testimony of my journey to understand life in its entirety. I have not reached a conclusion so I can never really define myself. Though I had come under the influence of all the existentialist writers earlier on, especially Camus, notably his ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ and the philosophy of the absurd, my roots in Indian Philosophy have taken me forward and I believe that beyond all this darkness that seems to envelop us, there is dawn, there is hope. These thoughts are all reflected in my books.
From asking myself “Sir, you asked me who I am. What shall I say? I have been asking myself this question for quite some time and reached nowhere” in my first book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’
To – “I believe that there does exist something beyond all this darkness and that is the hope I carry with me” in ‘Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives’
To – “My travels across India have made me come face to face with different cultures and different philosophies, but in the end, I did find one common thread uniting all of them that is hope. Despite all the debates of whether there is God or not, whether religion is at all relevant, one truth remains and that is, all through life man is in search of a meaning to his existence, be it an atheist or a theist or someone like me who is not sure” in ‘Autumn Leaves – Seasons of Life’.
Finally, in my latest book ‘The Diary of Mrityunjay’ I write –
“I have realized that the world is real and our existence a necessity. Life and death are certainties and so are all the gamut of emotions that we experience on our journey. One does not learn by moving away. One learns by sticking it out and facing the truth of our fallibilities and that alone is the only way to overcome them”
That sums up what I am. But yes, I am still a seeker. I seek to overcome.
NOVEMBER 2020 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
I explore through all my books the reality of human existence, whether it is aging and loneliness, infatuation and love, or finding authenticity in one’s life. I am also an active book reviewer. An Engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, by qualification and a Banker by profession, I retired from the State Bank of India in the year 2010 and settled down in Chennai, India. After retirement, I have been devoting my time to writing. I also write regularly on my blog ‘Sublimation’ covering various topics ranging from art, philosophy, and culling out slices of life from my various encounters which have found their way into my books more specifically ‘Darkness and Beyond’. My published books include: I am just An Ordinary Man, Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives, Autumn Leaves – Seasons of Life, Secrets of the Soul – A Journey in Verse.