From the leaves of yesterday

“Read a bit louder...no, not so loud...no no no! It has become too soft, don’t you want the audience to hear you? There, that’s good...now, go on...” Hearing these instructions, I felt my whole body shivering. What had I let myself in for? I faltered with fear wondering what if I fared worse when my turn came.

But the reassuring smile of professor A R Mitra  from across the sea of faces instilled fresh courage. Looking around the mammoth gathering of intellectuals assembled in that big hall took my breath away. The occasion was the ninety fifth birthday of late Shivaram Karanth, doyen of Kannada literature. It was my good fortune to be one of the invitees along with eminent writers. Since renowned writer Suryanarayana Chadaga had taken charge, our trip was quite comfortable and very interesting with the educative and energetic discussions among the stalwarts.

The undulating splendour of nature, especially the pleasant view of the fresh lush greenery was a real treat to the eyes, while the balmy sea-breeze as we neared Mangaluru was exhilarating! It was night when we reached Kundapura. The royal welcome accorded to us then and at the venue next morn, was really unforgettable! Genuinely warm and simple to the core, people of that place simply suffused us with hospitality. Needless to say, the best part of the trip was sitting beside the genius and hear him speak. Time stood still, for never ever in my dreams had I visualised such a moment!

Contrary to my apprehensions, my paper presentation went off smoothly. It wasn’t an easy task bringing out the numerous aspects of the unique personality. Keeping in view the time-limit, I tried my best to touch everything a bit, and I could see Karanth was pleased that I felt his play Ratnakaanike was similar in style of  Grecian dramas, written in the period of the famous playwrights — Aeschylus and Sophocles. Along with it, he was the one who made Yakshagana famous and brought awareness of it in us city-bred. The surrounding natural beauty had a profound impact upon the versatile man. So many novels, each with a different landscape! Kudiyara koosu, Chomana dudi etc are social-awakeners like ‘Uncle Tom’s cabin’ of Harriet Beecher Stowe! I concluded with the remark was that I truly feel Shivaram Karanth is the legendary Leornado Da Vinci reborn.

After the session got over, I went to my room to relax, as instructed by Chadaga, “You did well; now sleep, for you have to get up early in the morning for our return journey. Also, eat well.” I ordered all my favourite dishes — Masala dose, Jamun, Puri sagu, uddina vade chutney,  ice cream, and of course strong coffee. I deftly avoided Chadaga’s gaze as he perused the bill next morn. 

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