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How a Writer Got Folks on Twitter to Raise Over Rs 10 Lakh for Kerala, in Exchange for Limericks

Poetry to the rescue.

Rakhi Bose | @theotherbose

Updated:August 28, 2018, 10:19 AM IST
How a Writer Got Folks on Twitter to Raise Over Rs 10 Lakh for Kerala, in Exchange for Limericks
Poetry to the rescue.
Social media is much like the proverbial box of chocolates that Forrest Gump’s mamma told him about – you never know what you will get. Sometimes, it becomes the mirror to humanity’s underbelly. All the hate, all the propaganda – the communalization of the Kerala floods is a recent example.

But ever so often, this very social media becomes proof of the love and compassion of human beings. And again, it was an example of stellar humanity during the Kerala floods that shone out as a happy paradox.

As the floods in Kerala threatened to swallow the entire state and caused more damage than any flood in the last 100 years in the state, journalist and writer Amit Varma decided to pitch in, much like thousands of other people across the country that helped in cash or kind with the mammoth Kerala rescue operations that followed almost two weeks of flooding.

Varma decided to launch a creative ‘service’ for all those who chose to financially donate to the Kerala flood victims. In an initiative both novel and noble, Varma announced on Twitter that he will write limericks on demand – but only for those who donate a sum of Rs 5,000 or above to the Chief Minister Relief Fund in Kerala.

Limericks are funny, five-line verses, often humorous and witty and about a particular subject.

On August 17, Varma posted his offer on Twitter and asked people to send them receipts of their donations along with their topic of choice. From then, the initiative ran till Aug 23 and by the end of it, Varma had managed to write 104 limericks and raised over Rs 10 lakh.

“You often hear about the bad side of social media. People are spreading hate, polarization. But then social media also gives us this space to create something beautiful ever so often. The hate on social media mostly stays contained to it. But the good seeps out, it has real, measurable effects,” Varma told News18.

Some of the limericks Varma posted were truly poignant. When a donor gave his the subject ‘alternative facts’, this is what Varma wrote:


There is a price that this job extracts.
Are journalists merely artefacts?
What is the role we play,
In a world gone astray,
Where people do not care about facts?

On ‘Kerala rises from its cataclysm’, he wrote:


It is not hard to submerge a land,
But here’s one thing you must understand:
Whatever else may drown,
One thing you can’t keep down
Is our resolve to stand hand-in-hand.

Sometimes, he was asked to choose a subject of his own. Varma grabbed the opportunities to deliver sparkling social commentaries such as these:


I approve of girls wearing salwar.
I don’t mind if they wear churidar.
But when they dress too bold, I cannot be controlled.
It is their fault for going too far.


I was hungry. The future looked bleak.
A devout friend with a good physique Said,
‘I’d give you a feast, But you are an atheist.’
I told him, ‘My religion is seekh.’


We are all equal under the sky.
True as that is, conditions apply.
Dalits and Muslims, please,
Get thee down on thy knees,
You are subhuman. Time to say bye.

When asked if he plans to compile the verses in a book sometime in the future, the poet said with a laugh, “No publisher has approached me yet!”

He added that not all those who chose to help wanted to attain glory for it. Citing the example of a friend who alone donated 5 lakh but anonymously he said that the great deeds of humanity often needed no publicity.

“I did nothing. The people of the country came forward for Kerala in its time of need. And now that the worst is over, it has to stay together in its efforts to help the state get back to its former stability.” Varma said.

Kerala has incurred losses worth over Rs 19,000. While the Centre has given a total of Rs 600 crore so far and refused to accept aid from foreign nations such as UAE, individual donations may just matter all the more to the rebuilding of Kerala.

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