Anuradha Nalapat and her siblings Arun Nalapat and Anumpama Nalapat had spent their childhood in the misty high-ranges of Munnar. Those beautiful days in their life equipped them with a better insight about nature and its inhabitants. It was their father Unnikrishnan Nair, who was an ardent lover of nature who taught the three kids to look at nature from a different perspective and to build a relationship with its elements so that they would never harm it in their life.
Unnikrishnan Nair passed away three years ago and the significance of his thoughts became clearer to his three children in his absence. They felt that his thoughts should go deep within the society, especially among kids, who are the future.
That led them to start the project ‘Stillness’ in memory of their father, a year ago, with the help of their mother and author Dr. Sulochana Nalapat. “He was a very creative person. Other than his daily work, he would make creative pieces out of things collected from nature. While travelling in Munnar, he used to tell us to look at things such as river and trees around us. It registered in our minds, helping us to connect with the nature,” says Anuradha.
According to Sulochana, her husband was a person who had ‘silence’ in his mind. “The stillness he achieved from nature helped him stay composed in life. He believed that nature is meant for every little living being, not just for humans. His thoughts moulded our kids’ minds. That is why they christened the project as ‘Stillness’,” she says.
The first session of ‘Stillness’ was held in Munnar in association with the KDHP and the TGBL. Almost 40 students from the High-range school, studying in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th classes attended the three-day camp with their teachers Vilson, Esther, Baiju, Tinureshma. The project was started by Arun almost a year ago.
During the camp, they took the children out to see forests and rivers to get close glimpses of nature. They saw from where river starts its journey and listened to many stories and myths tied to nature from locals.
There was an interaction with tribal people to help children understand their culture and lifestyle. “The core concept of this project is to make children enter the ‘creative stillness’ using their five sense organs and thus create a link between nature and their minds,” says Anuradha.
“Why do we cut a tree? It is because it is just a tree for us. Suppose, you knew the person who planted the tree, and had shared some sweet moments with your friends sitting under its shade, you wouldn’t be able it cut it... because there exists a relationship between this tree and you. Same is the case of a river,” explains Anuradha, adding that the attitudinal shift was visible after the camp.
Initially, children were not so excited to go out to see trees because their place is surrounded by trees. But, their mind changed on the final day that they made a tree special. “Boys from the team named one tree the ‘wish fulfilling tree’ and created a rule too. Think of your wish and look up high the tree, it will happen. This shows how much that tree became close to their heart,” a beaming Anuradha says. And it urges them to continue the project.
As a next step, they will be doing a session with the students in the urban area. “We will do that session in any school that shows interest. A few kids from Munnar will be brought here,” says Anuradha, who is the granddaughter of poetess Nalapat Balamaniyamma. Writer Madhavikutty is her mother’s sister.
Quiz her about the duo, she says, “Ammama (Balamaniyamma) was a simple woman, but the world inside her mind was large, which helped her achieve everything in life. Aamithaatha (Madhavikutty) was different from Ammamma; her foresightedness was great.”