On Looking Back
by KP Gopalakrishnan
Nostalgia comes naturally to a person like me who has spent three-fourth of his lifetime outside Kerala, his native land. It was much against my wishes in the initial stages, and later by force of circumstances. Kerala and the mother tongue Malayalam, haunt me day in and day out. All the luxuries in my home in Bangalore pale into insignificance before the modest home I had on the banks of Bharatha Puzha.
It is in the nature of Keralites to venture out into new places to look for new pastures. I came to Bangalore for my college education. It was much against my wishes. But it was Bangalore or a full stop to my higher education. My desire was to study Malayalam and my dream was to become a writer. My inspiration was Basheer and Uroob, the renowned writers in Malayalam. I used to read their novels in Mathrubhumi weekly.
Poems of Aasan,Vallathol and Changampuzha were always on my lips.
For me, the film 'Neela Kuyil' was the ultimate in realism and in film music at its best. My coming to Bangalore for higher education and later taking up the job of a Geologist in Andhra Pradesh with its rather compulsory field work in remote forest areas for a minimum period of six months in a year, put an end to my literary ambitions!
Those were the days of post cards, telegram and at best a radio! After a long gap, in my early fifties, I found that my once lost interest in literary hobbies had popped up again. Instead of writing literary pieces, I took to Akshara Slokam . I joined the Akshara Sloka group of East Cultural Association and made it a point to memorize the slokas, written in Sanskrit ( Sanskrit metre). I was more interested in the slokas (poems) of Kumaran Asan, Vallathol and Vailoppilli. This gave me immense satisfaction and I realised that my inability to write good poems can be compensated by dwelling into the poems of the Masters. I consider Kumaran Asan as one of the greatest poets of the world. The poems of Aasan offer a great solace to my nostalgia.
Now, the retired life offers me ample time to dwell in Malayalam literature and Kathakali. Besides, my occasional visits to Kerala to get immersed in its scenic beauty, also give me great solace to my nostalgia. It is the scenic beauty of Kerala coast that made poet Vayalar to say 'Can I be given once again rebirth in this beautiful coastal land!
Kannada Rashtra Kavi KuVemPu exhorts in one of his poems 'Wherever you are, whatever you are, be always a Kannadiga'.
Likewise, I wish Keralites who are found much more in abundance all over the world, too remain always Malayalis wherever they are and in whatever positions they are! The only sign of light at the end of the tunnel, as I see, is the fervour in which Malayalis the world over celebrate the festival Onam. Here again, I find nostalgia at its zenith, dreaming over a bygone era of human equality under a noble Asura king who was banished to the nether world by Vamana avathar of Lord Vishnu, with the permission to make annual visits to his lost kingdom to see his subjects.
The Malayalam language is given the status of a Classical language by the Central Government. But there is hardly any move by the state government to make Malayalam the official language or to make it the medium of education upto metric level. Malayalam has a very rich vocabulary and shown the versatility to adopt words from other languages like Arabic, Urudu, Portugese, English etc. With its over 60% Sanskrit vocabulary it is an ideal language for computerisation and information technology. One can understand the 'Pravasi Malayalis' aversion to teach Malayalam to their children. But alas, it has become a fashion in Kerala to make children learn foreign languages instead of Malayalam as even a third language at school level! There is a tendency in our visual media to encourage mispronunciation of Malayalam! I wish we realise the importance of giving Malayalam its due place with its rich literary tradition. ***