I was looking for Kannada novels to read. I thought reading them would help me understand the land better. I asked a few friends around and got to know about The House Of Kanooru (Kanooru Heggadithi) by Kuvempu.
Kuvempu is the pen name used by the author Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa. Kuppali is the name of the village he was from. He was a celebrated poet during his time. He has penned the Karnataka state anthem and also has won many awards including the Rashtrakavi. Translations of his poems are not available in English. During his lifetime, he had written two novels and both of them are available in English.
In the novel, the antagonist who returns after his college education in Mysore lands in Thirthahalli. His servant waits on his bullock cart across the bridge. The trip from the town to his home in Kuppali still stays in my mind after years of reading the book. When you read a lot of novels, not a lot of stories stay with you. One tends to forget most of the stories and only a select few stay with you.
This is one such story which stayed. I remember how the author named each of the bullocks name which were pulling the cart and each cows unique characteristics. He went on to draw a picture of the road, birds and trees on the way. He was able to name such a huge list of birds and trees. This made me wonder how I live my life. I have stayed in this world for 30+ years, but have never observed these birds and trees around me. The way the author portrayed his land, made me fall in love with the place.
As writer Jeyamohan had once mentioned, this novel falls into the pattern of an educated person writing about a village from his point of view. This novel suits this pattern. The protagonist who is educated in Mysore sees life in rural Karnataka. One similar novel following the same pattern set in a different part of the Western ghats is The Legends of Khasak by Vijayan.
Another major takeaway from this book for me was the understanding of the hierarchy in the caste system. The book was set up in pre-independence Karanataka and I was able to draw parallels in the caste system from Karnataka and Tamilnadu. Gowda, Shetty, Brahmin of Karnataka had a lot in common with the Nadars and Thevars of Tamilnadu. The similarities were mostly in how they earned money. The land owners, farm labours and then the priests. They were the same in Karnataka and the Tamilnadu, only their caste names changed.
I decided to visit this place and take the same path which the protagonist took some day. And finally I did fulfil this wish. I did drive in the same roads where a fictional character used almost a century ago and was happy about it. Sometimes it feels like this is also a kind of madness. Madness over literature.
While the planning went through and the dates were fixed, I quickly read Carvalho and Jugari Cross by Kuvempu’s son Tejaswi. These novels were nothing compared to his fathers writings. I had planned the trip in July when the monsoon is in its peak. So that I would experience the land in its full glory.
I stayed in a homestay within the forests along the route and enjoyed their malnad style food. The next day morning, amidst the rains started to visit the Kavi Shaila. I noticed the memorial to Tejaswi and stopped to click few pics. Next was the Centenary building and the art gallery. The art gallery had statues of the characters from the book, also the photographs of Kuvempu and the birds which Tejaswi had photographed. This photographs exhibit of the birds explained how the author knew a lot about these birds.
And the next stop was the Kavi mane. The house of the author. It is turned into a museum of sorts and is well maintained. The house is built in the backdrop of the mountains. All this maintained museums and the size of the house makes one thing clear to me. The author was a from a very well of family. He hadn’t had to worry about food and also nature everywhere. His education probably made him see the nature around and record it for us to enjoy.
The next stop was the Kavi shaila, a small clearing in the hill near by which is also maintained by the trust. There are steps to reach the place and also roads. We took the road as it was drizzling already. The plac
It was a wonder to see the authors being celebrated this way. Saw similar monuments in Mahe and hope to see similar monuments come up in Tamilnadu too.