Is it still true that when a man bites a dog its news? If yes, by the same logic, I have news. It isn’t very often we hear a journalist say good things about another. As Mint’s editor R Sukumar once pointed out in a column, hacks usually don’t have kind words for fellow hacks. In a rare and perhaps bewildering (to many who can’t think of saying: Oh that story? I only gave it to him, that’s an old story) gesture, senior journalist K Balachandran has penned down a poem in praise of Joe Scaria, a journalist for nearly three decades.
Here’s what Joe had to say when he shared the poem with us.
I’ve had a couple of journalism students I taught mimic me at their cultural show, but this one is a new experience. Senior journalist K Balachandran has penned some lines that make me mumble and fumble for words, if not feel downright embarrassed. Such words normally come your way when you are close to taking a final bow. Admittedly being in my last lap, I am not perturbed. My only claim to fame during a 27-year career in the media is to not have won a single award. If any of Balachandran’s words is true, that would be an award I’ll cherish.
For forwarding this self-laudatory stuff, I ought to be making a proper confession, for the Bible says “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor 10:12-18), but I thought I’ll go ahead anyway because Balachandran’s lyrical prose is also testimony to his affection for fellow journalists.
So here goes: (Please be guarded, particularly about the penultimate stanza)
My dear Joe, my dear friend
you’ve been instrumental in showing how
journalism itself could be healing
by gently unraveling the truth
hidden as well as difficult to accept for many.
Acted as the resident confessor to all those who
suffer any which way by journalism’s sins,
psychoanalyst to exorcise scribes’ pains
though it has not started to feel here
as all around the world.
Your inventive mind and leadership role
I am bound to whole-heartedly appreciate.
After all we are among a few in this profession
who believe life is for living, the way you find it enjoyable.
The mind and spirit you display is special
In Kerala there are only a few left, who think and act like you,
not because of anything else, but out of
pure love for what you do and for the happiness in doing so.
Journalism brought me many exquisite moments of happiness
mainly what I created for myself, and to gift others
from the small world that we live in,
those were indeed luminous moments.
I am satisfied but there are great disappointments and regrets
not because any of my dreams did not materialize
but I found very few people whom I count
sensitive minds, to know, make friends with and cherish.
Had I not met you in my journey, I’d have regretted more
You are an oasis, a tree full of sweet fruits
for a weary traveller to relish, a fine human being,
self contented and keeping the poetry of life in mind.
May the coming days be special to you, your family, near and dear
I wish abundance of peace, serendipitous high in creativity,
all glad tidings and fulfilment of every kind, and let us continue
the adventure as there are much more exciting things to share in future.
PS: You can read Joe’s tongue-in-cheek commentary on news from across the world here.