My Dasara belongs to my childhood which I spent in a far away jungle surrounded village of the Sahyadri mountain region. An old man called Ballal would visit us sometimes walking miles and miles in the forest paths. If he appeared with an akshatha mark on his forehead it meant he had eaten. If he did not my mother knew he would stay on for his midday meal. All the family would sit on mats in the verandah and hear him tell stories. He was a great narrator of stories and we waited always for him to begin the story of his visit to Mysore to see Dasara. And he never failed us.
It was long long ago that he visited Mysore and saw the Dasara festival and Jamboo Savari but every time he retold the story there would be something new in it. The story was always narrated in the present tense; and every time the royal elephant and the Maharaja wore more resplendent jewels and the Maharaja smiled differently to the waving people. Sometimes Ballal was inspired by our intent listening, and on such occasions, the Maharaja even smiled at him–"'at this your old uncle of dark skin'"– as he took care to wearing a zari shawl for the auspicious occasion.. He even carried that shawl to impress us.
ಅಯ್ಯಪ್ಪ ಪಣಿಕ್ಕರ್ ಮತ್ತು 'ಸೇಕಡಾ ಏಳರ ಖಳರು' ಲೇಖನದ ಮುಂದುವರಿದ ಭಾಗ
ಕೇರಳದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಮ್ಯುನಿಸ್ಟರ ಸ್ಲೋಗನ್ನುಗಳನ್ನು ಜತೆಗೇ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ಸಿಗರ ಬಹುಜನ ಪೂಸಿಯ (ಪಾಪ್ಯುಲಿಸ್ಟ್) ಪೊಳ್ಳು ಆಶ್ವಾಸನೆಗಳನ್ನೂ ಏಕಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಟೀಕಿಸುವ ಒಂದು ಲೇಖಕರ ಗುಂಪು ಈ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಕೊಂಡಿತು. ಇವರೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನೂ ನವ್ಯರೆಂದು ಕರೆಯುವುದು ರೂಢಿಯಾಯಿತು. ಇವರ ಕೇಂದ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದ್ದುದು ಎಂ. ಗೋವಿಂದನ್ ಎಂಬ ಒಬ್ಬ ವಿಲಕ್ಷಣ ಪ್ರತಿಭೆಯ ಮನುಷ್ಯ. ಈತ ಎಷ್ಟು ತೀವ್ರವಾದ ಎಂ. ಎನ್. ರಾಯ್ ವಾದಿಯೆಂದರೆ ಅವರ ಒಬ್ಬನೇ ಮಗನಿಗೆ ಅವರು ಇಟ್ಟ ಹೆಸರು ಮಾನವೇಂದ್ರನಾಥ.
ಸುಮಾರು ಮುವ್ವತ್ತು ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಗೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಕಾಲದ ನನ್ನ ಮಿತ್ರ ಅಯ್ಯಪ್ಪ ಪಣಿಕ್ಕರ್ (1930-2006) ಮೊನ್ನೆ ಕಣ್ಮರೆಯಾದರು. ಕೆಲವು ದಿನಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ, ಅವರಿಗೆ ಏನೇನೂ ಮೈಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸರಿಯಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದು ಕೇಳಿ ಫೋನ್ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದೆ. ಅವರ ಮಗಳು ಫೋನ್ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡರು. ಅಪ್ಪನಿಗೆ ಮಾತಾಡುವುದು ಕಷ್ಟವೆಂದರು; ಎಚ್ಚರವಾಗಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂದರು. ನಾನು ಕರೆದೆನೆಂದು ಅವರಿಗೆ ಹೇಳಿ ಎಂದೆ.
ಅವರು ಫೋನ್ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದರೆ ನಾನು ಏನು ಹೇಳಬಹುದಿತ್ತು…?
I grew up in a village of the Sahyadri mountain region and went to a government common school. My father who was a self-taught man knew Sanskrit and English and read Gandhi"s Harijan translating it to Kannada to his village friends. I knew my Mahabharata and Ramayana not reading them but seeing Yakshagana performances and itinerant Harikatha narrators. I came from an orthodox family but read Shivaram Karanth borrowing the books from a village library which got all the publications of the adult literacy council of the Mysore State. I walked with my school mates some five kilometers everyday bare footed on a stony cart track wearing a shirt and short pants to the school. When I cam back home I had to change into my orthodox clothes hanging the shirt and pants on a nail on the wall. I have written recently that I became a writer in my language for I wore shirt and pants to my school for in my orthodox dhoti and upper garment I belonged to a narrow world of my caste. The school opened up my world for I sat there with all boys and girls who belonged to all castes in the village.