Taking Up the Challenge
(Reminiscences)

By Nuggehalli Pankaja

 It was quite an impressive event, the grand sammelan  our Kannada  Sahitya  Parishat had organized sometime back, roping  in  all  sections  of Kannadigas.  And the enthusiasm they  en masse displayed was thrilling!  As  I  watched  the  pageant  on   T.V, my  mind automatically raced back to that sammelan  of many years back. .  Being younger, hence able to commute  let alone withstand  the  melee, we  women writers  put in full attendance with  all enthusiasm.

To be frank, that was  a sort of exposure for me.  My name having become a bit known due to a few popular novels, and the film  of   mass  appeal- ‘Sepoy Ramu'  with late great actor Rajkumar as the hero’   (based on my  novel  Barale innu.... Yamune?  (Kannada),   I was able to carry myself.  Also,  the patronage of  T.Sunandamma - the  famous humorist of our Kannada literature,  acted as passport.

We both had that common bond- Humor. Such sammelans are suitable venues for  meeting each other, for striking friendship, and listening to their   discussions vis-à-vis.  Meeting literary giants like Ta.Ra.Su,   Pu Ti Na, L.S.Sheshagirirao, Venkatasubbayya, Gokak, A.N. Subbarao and the like,  and  interacting  with them elevated our mind to some extent .

Very  avidly  did we listen  to the lectures of the scholars on the dais - each one proficient in his field  imparting  a  fund of knowledge !   Yes, verily an infectious inspiring atmosphere,  except for a jarring note.  One of the scholars tore  most of the writings of  women writers to pieces, and caught the next train back home before the enraged gang could confront him!

It was like tackling the hornet’s nest!  Refusing to take the insults (as they termed it) lying down, the second sex  showed their anger through  vehement articles, showered newspapers with letters  to the  editors, and  in all probability, to that  villain also.  The  impromptu front  formed by the ladies who had taken up the challenge,  quoted   their  writers as being very gifted- in no way less, but   after  some time the eruption subsiding,  it adopted  a healthier form. Taking up the criticism  vented as a sort of challenge, Lekakiyaru (as the women writers are known in Kannada), rose to the occasion,  and  Lo!   Writings of superior caliber  in all  fields of kannada literature  began to sprout forth- evolve to greater  forms, and  inspiring to the extent of many  men writers adopting  secretively women’s  name (may be their wives?)  to get into the market. Whatever it be, today, those Lekakiyaru who   took  up the   gauntlet, have  really proved themselves and carved a  paramount place of their own in the firmament of our Kannada Sahitya.  

To quote a few names of  us writer’s ‘ Middle period’, late Triveni - (pseudonym of the writer) became famous by beginning   a  new   trend in fiction-writing.  Most of her themes centered  around psychiatry, two most outstanding  novels being ‘Sharapanjara’ , and   ‘Bekkina kannu’ .

Another contemporary writer known by the pen name  ‘Vani’, became very popular through her portrayal  of family life.   Her novels ‘Shubhamangala’ ,and ‘Eradu kanasu’ etc brought her immense accolade, in addition to being pictured. 

Late M.K. Indira  became a household name by taking up a wide canvas for depicting the life around, and of Malenadu etc. Educated only up to primary school, married early, she was something of a marvel!  So many prestigious awards, award-winning films!  Her characterizations,  narrative style were simply exquisite!  And memory?     

It seems the manuscript of her first novel- ‘Tungbhadra’ was lost by the publisher,   and she had no second copy; Undaunted, she rewrote the entire book- huge though it was, from memory!  It became a masterpiece, and made her-  by winning a  prestigious award. And that at the age of fortyfive! The Incident reminds one of  the famous writers of ‘French revolution’- Thomas Carlyle who lost  his manuscript of the famous book through the negligence of his friend. Likewise, he rewrote the mammoth work through sheer memory, and won laurels!.

Rightly has Thomas Addison said- ‘Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent  perspiration’ ..

Late T. Sunandamma was another stalwart, carving a niche for herself  in humor.   Recipient of highest honors, and a mammoth  book containing her  writings  signifies her achievements.

One other person has to be mentioned - late Dr.Nirupama, a versatile and prolific writer, considered as a genius  by the literary world, and worthy of Jnanapeet award. !.

Likewise, there are so many successful  Lekakiyaru  in all fields that it is not possible to mention them all. Activated by exposure, education,and encouragement, many  more are springing up, brightening,  the firmament of our Kannada literature.

An important milestone  was  set in when ‘Lekakiyara sangha’ was started by Literary stalwarts ;  H.S.Parvati, another noted name  in Kannada literature, along with Dr.Nirupama, and with  the guidance of the litterateur late G.Narayana, organized it  with the main idea of   bringing together all the Kannada women-writers  into its fold, and pave the way for interaction. ‘Lekakiyara sangha,’ as it is known, has gained status after many years of tribulation,  spreading its branches far and wide, and encouraging the worthy with prestigious awards- competition,  in all spheres. The magazine ‘Lekaki’ published by it regularly, and sent to all its vast circle of members, is very interesting and informative.

Very recently, the seventh  Sammelan  ‘All India Lekakiyara Literature Conference'   took place in Bangalore, and attended by prestigious persons in  all walks of life  and eminent litterateurs . The function conducted by  Dr.Vasundhara Bhupati , President of  ‘Lekakiyara sangha’, and with Nadoja Sarha Abubakar (eminent Kannada writer) as President of the Sammelan, with felicitation for the Jnanapita Awardee  Prathiba Re (Orissa famous writer), was much lauded by one and all.

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