Hooked to words

Muscat: When social media is panned as a nuisance these days here is a WhatsApp group that helps its members to share their joy for literature and steer through these pandemic times of stress, uncertainty and pain.

“Vayanakoottam (Readers’ Forum) provides a platform for its members to develop their creative skills in addition to providing them with opportunities to express their thoughts,” said Shoukat Ali, who took the initiative to form the forum.

Started in July, 2014 with a small group of literature lovers, it now has over 100 members from across the Sultanate.

“As a poet I found myself giving vent to my feelings with an unusual vehemence. The erudite readers of the group welcomed and appreciated my poems, which was also a huge encouragement for me,” said Tobi Talayil, adding, “it was a big relief for many of us to overcome the emotional trauma.”

For Anu Mathew, the group is a new-found solace to think and live positively in the midst of several personal challenges that she faces.

“After joining the Vayanakoottam, I started thinking from a constructive perspective. Along with my professional and family life, I could develop many of my skills like singing, story writing and participation in different competitions. The biggest gain is that I am always busy”, she said.

What makes the group different, according to Kurian Paul, is the opportunity that the new members get to develop their talents.

“We as a group not only read, but enrich, encourage the hidden talents who wish to write, or find such talents and give them a platform to share their works. We have many new writers come up and later we find them writing at par with many of acclaimed writers,” he said.

Currently due to the situation what we are all going through we have started it all again. For some they have found solace in reading and became regular readers, Kurian adds.

Sapna B George finds the forum that helps not only to read, but also help develop talents through different competitions like quiz and writing. Such tasks promote deep understanding of each other. “Our Vayanakoottam group encourages us to read. The good thing is we share books and talk, discuss what we read. Because everything changes when we read together,” she adds.

Radhakrishna Kurup says the group was proved to be a blessing during the lockdown. The healthy discussions and quiz competitions conducted on WhatsApp have helped the members to ease the impact from the pandemic. “The presence of many renowned writers in the group provides the much required potential to other literature lovers to develop their writing skills,” Kurup said.

K Samuel says the group is a great boost to budding writers and poets when their posts draw encouragement and comments from other members. “We also share newspapers and magazines from across the world including India, which help us to keep us posted on the happenings back home. Moreover the group gives us the assurance that no one is an island. It is a great stress buster.