13 November, 2014

Birthday No.5

Alter Idem turns five today! It means, 'Story-time'....

You know, many a time, when you read a short story, you are not aware of the impact it would have made to the author's career.
 I had read the story Sooryana Kudure by Sri.U.R.Anantamurthy about 5-6 years ago. But, it was only when the author passed away three months ago that I came to know - it is rated as one of the best stories in Indian fiction.

Sooryana Kudure literally means 'The Sun's Mount'. In some dialects of Kannada, it means 'Grasshopper' (the insect). The story is so true- to-life that you can relate to the characters and the narrative if you have lived in the Malnad  for a considerable period! Here goes....

Anantu is on a visit to his hometown. At the market place, he runs into his school-mate and childhood friend, Venkata - the dunce of their class. Venkata is now an expert masseur - cum- astrologer and he convinces Anantu to be his client, and, thus, guest for the day. Though they shared a common childhood, they are now a study in contrast - the erudite professor, and the country bumpkin......

Recollecting their childhood pastimes, talking about their current lives, they walk along to Venkata's house - pausing to take a breath/ acknowledge passersby.... and, finally, to call on the lonely, elderly, bed-ridden neighbour (being looked after by Venkata).

By now, it is obvious to Anantu that behind Venkata's cheerful, easy-going facade lies a life of poverty and wretchedness. While his three daughters are undemanding, the son is a wastrel and a trouble-monger.

Well.... they reach home in good time for lunch. Towards evening, it is time for the oil massage and hot water bath. Meanwhile, Anantu is witness to the son's quarrelsome ways and is quite disturbed by Venkata's helplessness.

The women try to make things better for Anantu by cooking his favourite dishes for dinner. Venkata's wife decides to serve the sweet in a silver bowl for the special guest. Upon opening her safe, she realises that the son has stolen it - along with the other trinkets. Unable to relish the tasty food, Anantu spends a restless night - like the rest of the family. The events of the day keep playing on his mind. His emotions swing from affection to pity to anger towards Venkata - for not keeping his son in check, for breeding frustration by not providing enough......

The next morning, Anantu decides to leave and looks for Venkata. He finds him near the hedge - staring at a grasshopper. And, that is how the story leaves us .... wondering if there are parallels being drawn with the grasshopper from the famous fable........  

4 comments:

  1. Congratulations for the 5th birthday of Alter Idem. Yes this so often happens , a very thought provoking story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Happy birthday, Alter Idem :-)

    ReplyDelete

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