Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sharing Memoirs of His Nondescript Kongu Hamlet

C.Subramaniam, Former Vice - Chancellor, Tamil University, Thanjavur 

In his poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, famed English poet Thomas Gray mourns the death of the common people as he comes across a country churchyard in an evening. Finding no difference between the great and common, Gray even assumes that there might be someone like John Milton, Oliver Cromwell and John Hampden among the dead villagers, whose talents had never been discovered, for they were simply folks of the countryside. From a similar angle as Gray viewed the rustic people, a poet from the Kongu region shares his memoirs on the people of his village people in his book Mamaraththupatti. And the poet is none other C.Subramaniam, former registrar of Bharathiyar University and retired Vice-chancellor of Tamil University, Thanjavur.

The hamlet 'Mamaraththupatti' in the present day Tirupur district is my native. In my book of poems on the same title, I have remembered a few, great people, who have left an indelible mark on me” says C.S, as C.Subramaniam is popularly called in Coimbatore.

While introducing the arid village C.S says:

Despite its name being ' Mamarathupatti' ( A village of mango trees), the village hardly has any trees. And I wonder how it was named so”

But, Sirpi Balasubramaniam, a two-time Sahitya Akademi award winning poet of Coimbatore, who has penned the foreword to the book, assumes the answers for C.S's question.

It is surprising that the village ' Mamarathupatti' has few trees. Still, it could have got the name after a rare event, in which a mango tree must have grown somewhere there! ”

Though the book is about a nondescript hamlet in the Kongu region, Sirpi commends C.S for making it distinctive by introducing its sons of the soil in the background of their anecdotes in his book of poems.

A busy educationist, heading a number of schools and colleges in the city, C.S informs that he could find a little time to write the book while he was at his daughter's home in the US recently.

Writing a book on my native village Mamarathupatti had been my long-time wish. The characters you come across in my book are real men and women of my village, alive or dead today. Their ethical life style,culture and sincerity inspired me to pen the book” says C.S.

The book Mamarathupatti, which has as many as 24 chapters, includes the author's memoirs on a traditional midwife, who helped his mother deliver the child. Interestingly, soon after the baby boy (C.Subramaniam) was born, the birth worker had to attend to another pregnant woman, who delivered a baby girl just after an hour from C.S's birth. And now, the baby-boy and baby-girl are the elderly couple C.Subramaniam and Chellam Subramaniam – the husband and wife, who met the coincidence of sharing their birthday!

Writing a chapter on Periyaa Nadar, a coconut palm climber, C.S recalls:

Periya Nadar would always be bare-chested. If you observed the bruises on his body, you could certainly say the number of trees he climbed. A diehard fan of the Tamil matinee idol and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M.G Ramachandran, Nadar, one day, watched the evening show of M.G.R's 1955 box office hit Gulebakavali at the touring talkies in the village Arikaran Valasu. The film, which portrays the hero's fight with a tiger, had a different effect on Nadar. As we headed to the same film for the night show, the innocent Periyaa Nadar told us that we would not watch M.G.R's fight with the tiger in the night show. Because, the hero had killed the animal in the evening show itself ! “ 

Link to a small publication of this story in The New Indian Express: 

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