Saturday, November 07, 2009
Meeting A Childhood Hero
As a child I could draw well. I still preserve the small, red dictionary that I had won as the first prize in a drawing competition at school. When I was 10 or 11, I had written to Chandamama, asking if they needed artists. Of course, I never got a reply. I would spend more time observing the illustrations in the magazine than reading the stories -- the gods and the goddesses, the kings and the princes, the sages and the hermits. I would always look for the name of the artist in the picture, and there came a time when I would decide if I liked a picture or not depending on the name of the artist. One artist I immensely admired was Sankar. I wanted to be like him. Remember the signature-illustration in the Vikram and the Vetala series -- the king wielding a naked sword and carrying a corpse on his back? That was drawn by Sankar sometime in the 1960's, and it still appears in the magazine.
Here's your truly with Sankar, who is now 85 and the only surviving member of the old team of Chandamama. He belongs to the simpler times and is, therefore, a simple man. Old age has taken a toll on his health, but his mind remains sharp and fingers steady as ever: he still draws for Chandamama. For me, meeting him was a childhood dream coming true.