Monday, May 16, 2011

Literature in the light of new understanding

My interest in literature began when I was in seventh standard. The motivation however was not so noble. One of my school teacher was writing for a local news paper run by one of the founders of our school. He would, now and then ask his students to write something for the children's page. Once he had asked us to write a small essay about the sport we loved the most. We treated this assignment as the routine home work. A few of my classmates copied somebody else's essay as it is. I don’t remember clearly whether I had written anything or not. But one of my friend who was my competitor in class exams had written about Badminton. His essay got selected and was published in the subsequent week`s news paper. Our sir read out the published essay in front of the class.

To be honest I was jealous of the importance my competitor got because of the essay. In a childish sense of determination I started to write. In the beginning I wrote some poems with meticulously chosen rhyming words. Later my reading of literature guided my writings. When I was in high school, one of the teacher recognized my interest in writing and encouraged me to write more. Those days I was spell bound by the inspiring and magical writings of Ravi Belagere. Like many of his readers those days, instead of the content or the insights the articles provided, only the narration style captured my mind. I was a regular reader of his Tabloid.

If you constantly read writings of a particular author, over a period of time his influence slowly starts to grip you. His style not only influences your choice of words, structure of sentences but also your way of thinking. You start perceiving the world through the borrowed eyes of that author. If you try to be a writer during this period, you end up being an ugly imitation.

I pursued my literary interest for a couple of years in the influence of Ravi Belagere’s writings. Even though I read many other authors during that time, Ravi Belagere’s influence overrode my judgments. Questions like: what is the purpose of literature? What are the responsibilities of a writer? How should a literary work be measured for its merit? - Were not important at that time. Writing in itself was the goal. The pleasure of writing was enough of the purpose.

Even after many years since I stopped reading Ravi Belagere, I couldn’t fathom questions regarding the purpose of literature and the responsibilities of a writer. A couple of my recent readings tantalized the thoughts in this regard. One of them being a collection of articles by U.R.Anathamurthy called “sadhya mattu shashwata”. In which he traces the inspirations for his writing to his childhood experiences. I had read his novel “Bharatipura” prior to this book. I could notice how much of it was constructed by the memories of his childhood. These writings helped me to realize that a literary piece of work should be born out of once experiences. Its true that we cannot experience everything in life and imagination is a powerful tool in literature, but writing about something which has no emotional relevance in us makes it either dry or too intellectual.

Another book that opened my eyes to the very important aspect of literature is ‘sahityada saptha Dhathugalu’ – a collection of essays by Yashwanth Chittala. Since childhood I had developed a sort of aversion for emotions. Being emotional and instinctive never occurred to me respectful. I considered myself to be rational and logical. Emotions are always illogical. I always denied that I was emotional. Even in situations when I was deeply in sorrow, weeping, I would comment that it is silly and artificial. In the face of such thought any emotion would become meaningless. This bias towards emotions and emotional people was not a personal one. It was affecting my writings also. I allowed none of the characters to be emotional. In one or two stories I wrote, all of the characters were as cerebral as myself. They lacked `heart’.

After reading some of the writings of chittala I started to realize that emotional part of human nature is the source for literature. Thoughts, ideas, theories can be borrowed, but emotional response to life cannot be faked.

These two books and a few other writings have helped me to question my preconceptions about literature. If not a new dimension, they have surely sparked something in me. I hope to read and write in the light of this new vision.