“I love nature. Green attracts me. Refreshes’ me. Makes me feel healthy. But all this, only in broad daylight. I do not appreciate nature in the wee hours of the morning. Yes, it does sound a bit strange. People mostly say that early mornings are the best time of the day to enjoy Nature. But I annoyingly disagree.”
The above excerpt is from my short story ‘Wake me only when the sun is high.’ This particular story was my first attempt at writing a short – fiction. The theme was ‘Humour’ with ‘Nature’ setting the stage for the story. It gets more interesting from here; I wrote the story for a nation – wide short – story contest in 2011 without really giving much thought to ‘what ifs’ and so it came as a huge surprise when the organisers informed me that it had been selected as one of the winning entries. I was over the moon as not only had I attempted a different genre and theme but in doing so I’d also won my first literary award. I was known as a bestselling novelist till then and was still dabbling in poetry but ‘the storyteller of the year,’ award bestowed on me that year by the contest organisers motivated me to start experimenting with other forms of short – fiction and I even started taking poetry more seriously and published my first poetry collection soon after. (For which, I won an award the next year).
Today, when I look back and reflect on things, I think that was just a precursor to what was to follow. The unique Fellows of Nature (FON) project initiated by Kumaon Lit Festival (KLF) which is itself a first – of – its – kind initiative– a travelling literary festival held in a tiny hilly village of Kumaon– is something that I was probably destined to initiate and lead together with Sumant Batra, founder of KLF and FON. It was much later that I myself realised this aspect of my literary journey and now sharing with you all. Those who know Sumant well will tell you that he is an extremely focussed and responsive person. He’s a visionary and anything that he takes up; he gives his hundred percent to it. And just like me he’s attracted and inspired by nature. In fact, nature always played an important role in the big picture or vision that Sumant had to promote art, literature and culture through KLF. Once the KLF core planning team was formed and we all started brainstorming about the festival model et al we were given a clear idea about the main goal of the festival and what all it should encompass besides promoting literature.
Kumaon Lit Festival (KLF) is a first – of – its – kind initiative– a travelling literary festival held in a tiny hilly village of Kumaon. The greater idea behind KLF was,
- To bring together respected thought leaders, celebrated writers, poets, artists, policy makers and literature lovers of the land, away from the city life.
- To discuss critical and relevant issues faced by the nation and at the same time use their expertise in creating various social initiatives to help build awareness and sensitivity towards one’s environment.
- Empower vulnerable sections of society especially disadvantaged children, youth and women.
Fellows of Nature (FON) project together with UN Women Writers Unlimited Series and Literary Bhagidari were the first important initiatives to be launched by KLF at its grand curtain raiser event held last year in September at Delhi.
The main objectives of the FON project are,
- Revive nature writing and reading
- Bring the spotlight back on human – nature relationship and other critical environmental issues.
- And build a community of nature lovers.
- ‘FON South Asia Short Award’ comprises of a prize money of INR 100,000 and a FON plaque for the winner of the short story contest.
- Top 30 stories selected will be published in the form of a book by our publishing partner, Wisdom Tree.
- A very strong team including an eminent international jury and pre – jury will bring the much needed expertise in selecting the best stories on nature.
- Our campaign partners (including Writersmelon) are going all the way out to maximise the visibility of this prestigious contest in all the 8 participating countries of South Asia.
- The short story contest is now open for submissions and we are all excited and waiting to see how the entire thing shapes up and who will win the first FON South Asia Short Story Award at the second edition of KLF – 11 – 15 Oct, 2016 , Dhanachuli & Jim’s Jungle Retreat, Kumaon.
A big thank you to Writersmelon team for giving us this opportunity to share the FON story with your members. Kindly visit our website to know more about the contest: www.fellowsofnature.in
Keep smiling. Keep writing. And join us at Fellows Of Nature.
Images from the launch event.