“Writer with a Vision and Mission”

I started reading writer Rajam Krishnan at a very tender age itself. When her prize winning novel ‘Malargal’ (Flowers) was serialized in Ananda Vikatan, I was in fourth standard. That didn’t prevent me and enjoy reading not only Rajam Krishnan but also Jagachirpiyan’s prize winner ‘Thiruchchitrambalam’. Someone who was reading children's magazines like 'Kannan', 'Ambulimama' and the sections for school children in the popular Vikatan and Kalki, I made my first effort to read Kalaimani’s famous serial ‘Thillana Mohanambal.’

This reading exposed me to the various shades of persons, their behavior and the social values and conflicts of life.

Here, I just confine myself to writing about Rajam Krishnan whom I met after reading many of her significant works as novel, novella and short stories. Rajam Krishnan’s novels were really family dramas at that point of time. ‘Malargal’ expounded the miserable life of a teenage girl Chitra and her psychological problems in the ambiance of families which were driven by superstitions and values. The author has dramatically described the life of this character Chitra -a useless father with meager earnings with a second wife and children; a rich but authoritative aunt under whose control Chitra is forced to live. Then comes her cousin Madhavan who tries to help her; another family of all women from where Chitra finds her suitor Gopinath; her endless fear and pursuit to end her life in self-pity were all well-presented through the novel.

Rajam Krishnan after a stage, started choosing subjects which are specific to a place or profession or life. Her ‘Kurinji Thaen’ (Honey of Kurinji) based on characters spanning three generation lives of Badugar community of Ooty, ‘Karippu Manigal’ (Salty Pearls) on the lives of fisher folk, ‘Setril Manithargal’ (People of Slush) on farmers, ‘Valai Karam’ (Bangled Hand) on Goa Liberation Struggle, ‘Mannakaththu Poonthuligal’ (Buds of Mother Earth) on female foeticide. She even traveled to Sambhal valley to know the life of dacoits to write her novel ‘Mullum Malarndathu’ (Blossoms of Thorn) and to Sivakasi down South to present ‘Koottu Kunjugal’ (Kids in Cage) about the life of workers in match box industries where they employ mostly children.

She was a hardcore feminist and believed in socialistic principles. She was a supporter of Gandhian views. Her novel in which she narrated how the Gandhian principles failed in India was titled ‘Verukku Neer’ (Water for the Root) that won her the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award. She also wrote two biographies; one on Dr. Rangachari, the popular doctor of yore who excelled in his profession with least developments in medicine, and Maniyammai, a young Brahmin widow and crusader, who later dressed herself and walked life as a man in the conservative society down South under the title ‘Pathayil Pathintha Adigal’ (The Footsteps on the Path).

Winner of many awards and accolades, she turned out to be a powerful speaker also. She participated and addressed many literary forums. ‘Roja Idazhgal’ (Petals of Rose), ‘Veedu’ (Home), ‘Suzhalil Mithakkum Deepangal’ (Lamps in the Swirl), ‘Puyalin Mayyam’ (Eye of the Cyclone), ‘Idipadugal’ (Ravages), ‘Manudaththin Magarantham’ (The Nectar of Humanity) were other popular novels dealing with the human emotions and the changing society and its values.

Most of her stories will have places of action in Udagamandalam, Chennai and Goa and her writing will take the reader to those places. There are collections of her short stories under several titles. A simple and elegantly dressed woman always in cotton who never minces words and also a loquacious conversationalist. I am proud that I had a few opportunities to interact with her.

For a school girl who got married at the age of 14 even before completing the school and any formal education, Rajam Krishnan’s contribution to Tamil literature is highly commendable covering a wide range of topics and places. She had visited Russia once which was reflected as ‘Annayar Bhoomi’ in a novel.

Rajam Krishnan’s Tamil prose will be slightly tough to read and comprehend as her construction of sentences in chaste Tamil with unique ways of expressions. Many Tamil scholars have worked for their doctorates on her writings.

Rajam Krishnan passed away on 20 November 2014 at the age of ninety after protracted illness. Her books were nationalized by the Government of Tamil Nadu during her hospitalization. She had been a writer with a vision and mission of her own lofty principles.

The authour of this article Mr. Swaminathan, apart from being a scientist, is a person of varied interests: his major hobbies include freelance journalism, writing, cinema, classical music and art. He has his blog in Presently, he is active in his Facebook (Gopalaraman Swaminathan) page in which he writes on several topics of interest except politics and sports.

15 Tables at tranQuebar...