Father's memoirs: Excerpts - III
After the tenth class, many of my class mates joined the college. In that atmosphere where we even had to worry about our daily bread, I decided not to think big and nipped my college dreams in the bud.
Payyaratta Raman, a local communist leader, said: "We'll find a way out. Temporarily you could work in the farmers collective."
Mom was relieved. My job was to write affidavits for the poor farmers who move the land tribunal. My handwriting was pretty good and the plaintiffs as well as the collective's leadership were generally happy with me. I used to get thirty rupees per month, most of which I could give to mother.
I worked there for almost six months. These local courts were abolished by then. The same leadership arranged for me the job of a clerk in a nearby co-operative society with forty rupees a month.
Around this time, I became closer to a relative of mine who had an interest in everything from carpentry and textiles to photography and poetry. Evenings were spent together, discussing matters literary; specifically we went through Ullur Parameswara Iyer's Keralasahityacharitram (A History of Kerala Literature), Sanjayan's Sahityanikasham, which is a treatise on literary criticism, and Kuttikrishna Marar's Bharathaparyatanam (A Tour of Mahabharatha). This period was indeed exciting and our literary experimentations included communicating to each other in verses, that too in Sanskrit meters! My interest in higher education got a strong boost which I could not forcefully suppress unlike last time.
It soon struck me that it's easier to study further as a 'private' student -- i.e., pay the fee and write the exams without attending college -- if I could be a school teacher first. So I wanted to do the Teachers Training Course. My brother was working at a restaurant in Kannur then. He told me:
"Come to Kannur. I get 25 rupees per month and I can give you almost all of it. That'll be enough if one's careful."
Thus, in 1963, I joined the Kannur Basic Training School as a Teacher Trainee. The two years that I spent there is one of the most important periods of my literary life. The atmosphere there was such that one couldn't have distinguished curricular and extra curricular activities apart. It's in those two years that I read critics like Keralavarma, Rajarajavarma, Mundasseri, Marar, and MP Paul. I read Kunhikkuttan Thampuran's Bhashabharatham and Vallathol's translaton of Valmikiramayanam. Also Adhyatmaramayanam, Mahabharatham, Bhagavatham, and Krishnagatha, and almost all the works of Vallathol, Kumaranasan, Ullur, Sankara Kurup, Vailoppilli, Etassery, Kunhiraman Nair, and other well-known poets.
Around this time I started writing poetry, and many of my poems got published in weeklies and other magazines. I started attending meetings of the Kerala Sahitya Samiti. In 1964, there was a meet of prominent literary figures in Telechery, organised by the Samiti. It's there that I got acquainted with most of the major Malayalam literary figures.