Thursday, September 08, 2005

Father's Memoirs: Excerpts - VII

In 1976, N.V. Krishna Warrier's sixtieth birthday was celebrated in Cochin with much fanfare. Mahakavi G. Sankara Kurup was the convenor of the organizing committee. It was also decided to bring out a felicitation volume on Krishna Warrier and Malayalam literature. As N.V. had no plans to write an autobiography, the organizers thought that it would be apt to have a longish interview with him which could shed light on his phenomenal life. But N.V. was not cooperative. Sankara Kurup was particular that the volume should contain such an interview. He knew that I was pretty close to Krishna Warrier and asked me to take up this job. The same day, I went and met N.V., and, without much of an introduction, told him about the plan to interview him. To my pleasant surprise, he agreed.

Stories of his varied experiences lasted hours. Childhood memoirs, work with Swami Agamananda of Ramakrishna Ashram at Kalady, research work in Madras, participating in the Quit India movement, radical underground journalistic activities during the freedom struggle, N.V. reminisced all these with a lot of enthusiasm. Sankara Kurup seemed to have liked the interview very much. In his speech at the function, Kurup said: "Do not skip this interview, even if you aren't going to read the other essays."

I was still in Thiruvananthapuram when Sankara Kurup passed away in February 1978. He was bedridden at the Medical College Hospital and he sensed that he did not have many days left. Anandam and I had gone to meet him with our son. We had arranged for a pushpanjali in Mahakavi's name at the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple and I had the prasadam with me. He took the prasadam and blessed our son.

My life in Thiruvananthapuram of course included Indira Gandhi's emergency years. Krishna Warrier supported the emergency. One of his poems of those days -- Kozhiyum Pulariyum (The Cock and the Sunrise) -- was very controversial. N.V. was also the convenor of the Kerala chapter of 'All India Writers' Congress', an organization of litterateurs supporting Indira Gandhi, formed at the initiative of Hindi poet Shrikant Verma. I was startled to see N.V. defending even Sanjay Gandhi's programmes.

In any case, it is worth noticing that a majority of the writers who mostly support Krishna Warrier's stand on matters literary did not side with him on this issue. Many of these writers were in the forefront of anti-emergency activities. Jayaprakash Narayan, the leader of the anti-emergency agitations, had also come to Thiruvananthapuram. I too participated in one of the secret meetings that he addressed.

In the general elections of 1977, though the opposition could not win a single seat in Kerala, just a few months old Janata party came to power in Delhi. Both Indira and Sanjay lost the elections. In Kerala, Karunakaran had to quit the chief ministership within a month of taking charge, as it was alleged that he was complicit in the murder of an engineering student, one of the many atrocities of the emergency period.

AKG's -- A.K. Gopalan -- death took place around this time. I had gone to the hospital to see him. AKG was lying unconscious on the bed. Memories of the agitations that he led, memories of his visits to our village, his speeches, his energy and fearlessness, came flooding back. AKG had once come to the office of the farmers collective where I worked for some time in my teen years. He was told about my studies as well as about our financial situation. I remembered his encouraging words, and the affection in his tone. And I couldn't stay there at the hospital any longer.

Many changes were taking place at home too. When Anandam conceived, we felt that it would be nice to have my mother around. In our next visit, we told her about it. Mom was happy to stay with us, but, she was also sad to leave her village, her home for the past sixty years. She was forced to adjust with unfamiliar surroundings. Back home, she used to wear a blouse only once in a while, to go to the polling booth perhaps. That was no longer okay. In Thiruvananthapuram, only Anandam and I could follow her colloquial Kannur language. Vishnumaster and Savitrichechi would try hard to talk to her with a lot of concern, and mom found that comforting.

On May 25, 1976, Anandam gave birth to a baby boy.

The naming ceremony was in his tenth month, in Guruvayur. We named him Anandavardhanan -- "one who increases (our and others') happiness" -- after the author of the celebrated aesthetics text Dhvanyaloka. A couple of years later when our daughter was born, there was yet another dhvani: daughter, Padmaja, is father's, named after the father, Padmanabhan, and son, Anand, named after the mother, Anandavalli, is mother's!

Previous posts in this series: Father's Memoirs: Excerpts - I, II, III, IV, V,VI.

21 Comments:

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Veena said...

In keeping with your name, you do seem to increase happiness around here with your translations. Can't wait for the next one.

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger chappan said...

Anandavardhanan
Excellent translation man. Simply terrific idea of having you father's memoirs documented.

A humble requested, please dont use the abbreviated dad or mom in the memoirs since it somehow makes it sound very contemporary.

Mother or father makes it sound much better.

Just my 2 cents.
Sourin

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger uma said...

ditto to both veena's and sourin's comments! keep the instalments of happiness coming :))

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger Sunil said...

I'm delighted to see the memoirs back, and this one was an especially nice post :-))

 
At 8:15 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said...

i concur with sunil and others. very touching.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger Sujatha said...

Very nice Anand. I'll go back and read the previous ones.

When we were young, we used to visit Guruvayur every year. In fact, my brother had his annaprashanam (hope I spelt it right) there. He, unfortunately, answered nature's call in the sanctum sanctorum and the priests went through the whole temple purifying exercise (including washing the elephants) all over again! My dad was not pleased!

P.S.Thanks for blogrolling me. Appreciate it very much.

 
At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Vishnu said...

In fact, my brother had his annaprashanam (hope I spelt it right) there.

Me too! Parents take me to Guruvayoor every time.

 
At 4:27 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

:)) Thanks Veena.

Thanks Sourin. Thanks for the mom-mother point too.

Uma, Sunil, and Nandakumar -- Many thanks.

Sujatha -- That's a funny story! So the priests bothered a lot to purify the premises and all that. Guruvayurappan wouldn't have bothered much!

I have a story too. The temple has (had?) baskets of manjati seeds (these are beautiful red and black pearl like seeds) and children are supposed to play with it. When my turn came, it seems, I did it with so much force that the whole basket fell down. This must have been in a later visit (not when I was just ten months old!).

Vishnu -- We do have a lot in common, eh?

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Sunil said...

In fact, my brother had his annaprashanam (hope I spelt it right) there.

I even had to go a step further. It was decided (when I was just entering my teens) that I needed to have a tulaabhaaram done there, and so, in guruvayur, there i was, sitting on this huge balance, and coir rope (that was the chosen counterweight) was on the other side. :-)

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Vishnu said...

:) Yes, Anand.

I think the temple has a large uruli filled with manjati seeds. I had a huge collection of those seeds (not from the Guruvayoor temple) when I was a kid.

Sunil, I had a tulabhaaram with kadalipazham this January. Maybe I'll have one in the coming January too!

 
At 2:21 AM, Anonymous Srikanth said...

Sorry for the late comment, but a great post once again!

And thanks for blog-rolling me!

 
At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

Thanks Srikanth.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Emma said...

I just read all of your father's memoirs and I agree with what others had to say here - very very impressive. I surely would like to read the English translation.

My father-in-law who is sixty plus now started studying sanskrit after his retirement. He has already given his MA examinations, and is preparing for his PhD. I am sure it will be a great pleasure for him to get to know your father. The links you have provided on the various pages of these excerpts too will be really helpful to him. Thanks a lot for the same.

 
At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anand said...

Thanks Emma. I was just wondering how much passion and dedication one needs, to be like your father-in-law.

If you e-mail your father-in-law's contact ID I'll be happy to send him my father's ID.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Ram R said...

I disagree with others who say that "Mom" is very contemporary, that "mother" is much better.

"Mom" shows intimacy and love, while "mother" is impersonal and a little distant.

There is nothing contemporary in "mom", it's an age-old term. If you don't like it because it's most widely used in the USA, use mommy, mum, mummy, etc. that is more British.

Even the main character in Albert Camus' "The Stranger", who is one of the most alienated characters in literature, starts with: "Maman died today."

For a young lad, as your father was in these excerpts, using an intimate word to refer to his mother is highly appropriate.

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger Emma said...

Hi Anand,
You are right about passion and dedication - and my father-in-law is really committed to the study of Sanskrit. Recently, he got selected to present a paper at the World Sanskrit Conference in Canada next year. I do not yet have all the details.

Unfortunately, my father-in-law is not really a computer savvy person, though we are trying to get him hooked to emails at least. I may not be able to provide an id immediately. The only way to reach him even now is of course snail mail. I haven't had a chance yet to talk to him about your father. I will do so soon, and I am sure he will be more than eager to write to him.

 
At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent!

 
At 2:42 PM, Anonymous dinesh said...

anand!
i am dinesh a student of your father on 1992.now a lecturer in bishopmoore college, mavelikara. i came here by chance. so i am just commenting now onething. you should change your blog name to aloka or dhwani. other wise i will ask your father to change your name to abhinava
will write again.

 
At 3:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anand,

I liked reading the translation of Natannuvanna Vazhikal, your father`s autobiography.

I have had the opportunity to listen to your father at a seminar held at Ayurveda Collage, Kottakkal, nearly 16 years ago. The seminar was on "Manas"(Mind). The moderator of the seminar was one Prof.Vishwantha Sharma, an Ayurvedic Physician from Chennai and if what I can remember is right your father disagreed to the "conclutions" of the seminar Prof.Sharma presented and few statements he attributed to your dad.

I found the refercence to late N.V.Krishna Varrier interesting.

Subroto Bagchi, the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for MindTree Consulting attributes his success to the mentoring skills of his elder brother, in one of his colums. MindTree, he says has mentors to groom young techies.

I think N.V was a gifted mentor.He was an enabler of a generation of writers and poets he had worked with, in Kerala.

I find it difficult to believe that NV supported Emergency. Did he really support Emergency and all the actions of the Central Government ? Can you think of any possible explanation for NV`s support for Emergency, if you have read any of his poems or writings on Emergency.

Regards,

Raja

 
At 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anand,

I liked reading the translation of Natannuvanna Vazhikal, your father`s autobiography.

I have had the opportunity to listen to your father at a seminar held at Ayurveda Collage, Kottakkal, nearly 16 years ago. The seminar was on "Manas"(Mind). The moderator of the seminar was one Prof.Vishwantha Sharma, an Ayurvedic Physician from Chennai and if what I can remember is right your father disagreed to the "conclutions" of the seminar Prof.Sharma presented and few statements he attributed to your dad.

I found the refercence to late N.V.Krishna Varrier interesting.

Subroto Bagchi, the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for MindTree Consulting attributes his success to the mentoring skills of his elder brother, in one of his colums. MindTree, he says has mentors to groom young techies.

I think N.V was a gifted mentor.He was an enabler of a generation of writers and poets he had worked with, in Kerala.

I find it difficult to believe that NV supported Emergency. Did he really support Emergency and all the actions of the Central Government ? Can you think of any possible explanation for NV`s support for Emergency, if you have read any of his poems or writings on Emergency.

Regards,

Raja

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger Dream rider said...

Thanks a lot for your detailed essay on N V, much appreciated.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home