Losing their way

Losing their way

Representative image/Pixabay Image

The coronavirus lockdown at home afforded an opportunity for me to rummage through my book-shelves when I chanced upon a collection of rssays by noted Kannada Litterateure Gourish Kaikini (father of Polymath Jayant Kaikini).

I reread some of the essays and anecdotes contained in the book. Gourish Kaikini was a master raconteur and I found one particular anecdote to be very interesting for its simplicity and profundity. 

“Once the legendary Shivarama Karanth had been invited to preside over the Anniversary celebrations of a High School in a village neighbouring Gokarna. As one who taught in that school, I was his host and I followed Karanth throughout his stay hanging on his lips to receive the famous Karanth witticisms.

After the school program, Karanth desired to spend a while on the nearest beach. Thus Karanth accompanied by me, fellow teacher Sri S R Yekkundi and one more teacher started on foot for the beach a couple of kilometres away. Since there was no well-defined road we had to pick our way through the kitchen garden patches and paddy fields along the way.

On reaching the pristine sandy beaches and quietly savouring the grand vision of the ocean and its roar, we got around to discussing the various facets of literature and its developments. Karanth regaled us with his witticisms as was his wont.

Absorbed as we were in this activity, we never realised that sun had almost set and darkness was creeping up fast. Since we still had to get back to the village before dark by the same route, we reluctantly got up and began wending our way back. Along the way, we missed a turn and reached a dead end. Perplexed and anxiously looking around for someone to help we noticed a village elder sitting on a makeshift bamboo platform and sought directions.

He obliged us by giving necessary directions and we set off on the route suggested by him. Very soon we were back where we began having missed a turn again. The village elder who noticed our predicament gave a shout to a youngster who was finishing up on chores for the day in a neighbouring plot and instructed him to guide us back to the village.

For good measure, he also cautioned him to ensure that we would be ion the road to the village before leaving us by saying “These gents are educated and learned. They can easily lose their way”.

Momentarily stunned by this statement some of us recovered enough to guffaw in delight. But not so Karanth whose face suddenly grew sombre and he seemed to reflect on the truism of the statement.