When Tamil professor and popular writer Perumal Murugan was hounded by Hindutva and caste outfits for his alleged depiction of Kongu women in poor light in his novel Madhorubhagan, his old students, who have high regards for him, were also helpless like him. On a day, when they heard that their 'Ayya' (Tamil professor) had received continuous threats and haunts from his protestors, his students, who were mostly Tamil teachers in different schools and colleges across the state, could hardly do anything to condemn the incident. Nevertheless, recollecting their great teacher's care and affection for them, they have now come out with a book ' Engal Ayya' ( Our Tamil teacher).
It may be noted that Perumal Murugan had to tender an unconditional apology for the 'controversial' content and decide to pulp all his literary works. In his Facebook page, the writer even declared the 'death' of the author ' Perumal Murugan' in him and he would, henceforth, be called only by his natural name ' Pe. Murugan', a mere Tamil teacher.
At this juncture, answering a question on how his students estimated the writer's controversial works and whether they have any idea to bring the writer ' Perumal Murugan' back to life, Velayudham, proprietor of Vijaya Pathipagam, who presided over a symposium on the book at the literary organisation 'Kalam' recently, said:
“ This symposium is only on 'Pe. Murugan' the Tamil teacher, and not on ' Perumal Murugan', the writer. Let's discuss the latter some time in future “
Admiring 'Engal Ayya', Velayudham informed:
“ I read the entire book in an over night. 'Pe. Murugan' is a man of simplicity, who was always seen carrying a 'Manjal Pai' ( An ordinary yellow cloth bag) and wearing a pair of ordinary Khadhi chappals. A great teacher, he was of any help to his students, both academically and personally. The book on him should be read by professors of the present day so that they could learn the role of a teacher in shaping a student's personality” added Velayudham.
A Chinnadurai, an old student of 'Pe. Murugan', recalled:
“ Like his favourite legendary Tamil scholar, U.Ve.Sa alias U.V. Saminatha Iyer, our Ayya too loved the mischief of his students. Though he was a great writer with a number of books to his credit, he never popularized any of his works in class ”
N.Arul Murugan, Chief Educational Officer of Coimbatore District, who was also a student of 'Pe. Murugan', said in his special address:
“ What we learned from our Ayya was his life, as he lived it the way he taught us”
Manikandan, Sivakumar, Chandran, Savitri, Jayakumar and Ranjan, who were also professor 'Pe. Murugan's students, addressed the symposium.
Link to my article in The New Indian Express : http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/11339763