Mission: To collect comments to feature on the back cover of iPaatti, Mellinam’s first product. The catch, the book was in production and all we had in hand were the art samples, the music and a presentation we put together on the same. I was skeptical that anyone would talk to us but nevertheless, we approached more than a dozen personalities. Discovered pleasant surprises along the way.
To talk about the artwork, we felt the right person was Maniam Selvan, popularly known as Ma. Se. We both were admirers of his work and felt his words would mean a lot to the product. Madhan called Ma. Se, mentioning that we were calling from Mellinam and would he favor us with an appointment. We were very doubtful to be able to get that. But Ma. Se told us to come over the very next day with our illustrations.
We took a sample of 10 songs with illustrations along with our presentation. The busy, illustrious artist spent not a few minutes but 2 whole hours listening to our project and commenting on its various phases. He guided us on minute artistic details and brought our attention to specifics that we might have otherwise missed. At the end of our long discussion, he asked us to leave the samples with him, saying that he would get back with his comments in a few days.
During the next visit, he gave us the promised comment and something in words that we value very much. Here are the excerpts of that conversation:
“Actually,there’s a little more to that note of comments. Last night, I was showing these samples and reading out the songs to my granddaughter.”
“She was pointing to each sample and asking curious questions, ‘Thaatha, what are these children doing? Is the little girl eating chocolate ice-cream? Is the lady tearing the calendar sheet like amma?! ‘ and so on, as little children are apt to.”
“I read the song on Gandhi Thaatha, in which little boy talks to the Mahatma about his problems and asks ‘Tell me what should I do!’ . As you’ve written, the last problem is that the mother is not at home and what should he do about brushing his teeth! To which the great man laughingly replies,
‘You’d better learn to brush your teeth,
Or else, start practicing my toothless smile!’
My granddaughter listened to this song and soon after went to bed”
“Next morning, my wife woke her up and took her to brush the teeth, as she/ my daughter have been doing this far. She grabbed the toothbrush from her grandmom and said ‘Thaatha told a story yesterday. From now on, I will brush my teeth myself’ and ran off. “
“That is your little success story”, he finished, leaving us in deep smiles.
Mellinam has taught me so many things in the past year. This, particularly was an eye-opening experience in that I discovered that there is so much innate goodness in people. They surprise us with their kindness and open hearts. They show interest in things that is of no material use to them. Encourage the buds to bloom with confidence. Kudos to the warmth of human nature!