Taking up the Challenge-contd
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
Continued from page 1
Now,on the 23rd of February the 35th anniversary of our Lekakiyara sangha took place with all pomp at the seat of Kannada literature-‘Kannada Sahitya Parishat.’
At this juncture, my mind wanders down memory-lane, stippled with rejuvenating flashbacks of the time spent in like-minded company. Some of us writers had formed a group, named ourselves as the famous fourteen, and regularly met as a sort of ritual once a month. We who lived in Malleshwaram were known as the Malleshwaram group, while those in Basavanagudi- the ‘Basavanagudi group’. Malleshwaram group was under the aegis of the senior writer late T.Sunandamma, and the Basavanagudi group under Dr.Anupama Niranjana, another well known senior writer.
Our venue would be at each other’s house, turn by turn. It used to remind me of the coffee–club held by Dr.Johnson and his brood of writers. We would discuss the latest books, along with the good books we were able to get hold of, plus read each other’s publications; And of course borrow books from each other. The literary discussions did help us a lot, making us find ourselves, and to find out in which area our writing talent lay most- whether skits,or short stories,or dramas or novels etc.
The writing exercises given to everyone in all fields helped us a lot in unearthing our potentials and moulding the writing style of each one with constant practice - grit. The skill was honed with regular practice and constructive criticism of the listeners while each one read her skit, essay, short story, drama,etc. Each one of us was expected to give her opinion. Then discussion and summing up followed. It was a sort of eye-opener. Speaking for myself, if I found humor as my forte, it is because of those sessions. And the most noble quality of our gathering was, we did not harbor even a tinge of the proverbial ‘Jealousy of the artists’! Deep camaraderie and mutual encouragement was our unspoken motto, and given unstintingly..In addition, we would make it a point to attend the lectures and discourses of litterateurs, and go through them in our next meeting, thereby gaining more knowledge, perception, and facility of expression, propelling us so strive for expertise. We also exchanged good books! No wonder many of our group rose up
to become notable writers inspiring others to follow suit. Small trips were also planned as a sort of exposure; eminent writers invited now and then to give talks, and few recordings through All India Radio Bangalore of dramas, penned and enacted by us.
Here, I would like to narrate an incident which will remain as an indelible memory.
On being given an assignment, our T.Sunandamma penned a humorous play entirely for us-the Malleshwaram group; Sure, we felt like a privileged set and went about it earnestly; Parts were distributed according to voices, and rehearsals were started in right earnest, on an auspicious day at an auspicious muhurtam after propitiating God Ganapathi and our tribe goddess-Sarasvati. Ganesha must have been pleased with the oblation of His KADABU,for the rehearsals went on without a hitch, raising rollicking laughter oft. It happened like this-
We had cleverly opted for our dear friend Nirupama’s house as the venue for our rehearsals since apart from being an excellent cook, she was an extremely generous hostess. Confined to the kitchen, one ear cocked towards the rehearsals going on, suddenly would she emerge out with the chakkuli varalu(Implement for squeezing chakkuli) and burst upon us with her dialogues. The whole scene would be disrupted in addition to our concentration swayed by the aroma wafting from the kitchen. Sunandakka,(as we called T.Sunandamma,) being the Director of the play, would naturally get irritated and bang her- "Your cue has not yet come, wait for my call.”
Poor Nirupam! Subdued, she would retreat to her domain, but not before signaling us quietly to taste whether salt etc was alright. Of course, only too glad to oblige, we would sneak into the kitchen one by one under the pretext of drinking water and remain there like one rooted to the heavenly kitchen-floor, tasting, tasting, tasting, while our drama-Director’s canelike- calls fell on deaf ears. Finding no voices around (In A.I..R, we would be judged by our voices, hence the pun), she would barge into the kitchen determined to drag us out, to end up as a taster herself.
Oh for those glorious days!! Can it not come back, shaking off the shackles of past,
And enrich us once more as before?’
-Muses so my heart, but the lines of Robert Frost soothes my mind... The End