On Monday, 19th of November 2012, the Manipal Center of Philosophy welcomed for a lively discussion two major Indian writers: Vaidehi and U R Ananthamurthy. Topic of discussion: “On Being Writers in India Today.”
It is said that in England, over the centuries, every part of the geographic England has been covered by one writer or the other. There is no part of England that a writer has not touched. England is soaked in literature. Karnataka is also soaked in it. Dakshina Kannada is Vaidhehi-land. Vaidehi has that kind of capacity.
My house has a front yard and a back yard. My mother was always in the backyard. And I think if I didn’t haunt the backyard, I would not have become a writer. In the backyard, there was always gossip. The entire street was in the backyard. If I had stayed only in the frontyard, I might have become a scientist or something else, but you need gossip to become a writer. Gossip is the source of great literature. What was gossip became a story for me.
So many things happened in the house, the backyard, the house in the middle, the front courtyard and the street in front of the house. All of these made a world in itself. This was more than any book could offer me. The sounds of this world filled me; grass collector girl’s sing-song counting, the squirting sound of a milking cow, the crisp pulling out of the dried papads and the rhythmic creak of three cradles through the night. I grew up listening to all this… How could I not write it all? I had no other option but to write.
There used to be a woman who came home in the afternoon at 2.30. One day she mentioned that her husband would not leave her alone at night and how she would climb atop the jackfruit tree to escape him. I could not understand all those connections between the tree, her husband and the night, as I was young. Even such private things were shared publicly on the Jagali.
Sexual truths were gossiped so openly by women. The Kannada woman’s world had not been revealed till Vaidehi.
I wrote Akku in 1983, one afternoon in K’s house, when everyone was sleeping. I just started writing because I simply felt like it. The first two sentences are all I wrote and then the story flowed in the writing.
How can I tell you how cotton becomes a thread on a spool? I always wonder if I was the one who wrote this or was it written through me.
The language itself was seeped with so many metaphors. There are languages within the language. There are thousands of Kannadas in literature. Literature is a hiding place for these languages.
The oral story changes every time it is told. A written story can be edited again and again. I engage with it till my whole lament completely comes out, till the harmony of the story matches my inner feelings.
Literature produces philosophy, and not the other way down. When philosophy produces literature, it is unreadable. Madness allows characters to say and do things that are closer to the truth.