Due to the recalcitrant attitude and apathy, the literate Kerala is still not able to erect a monument of the great Malayalam poet, G Sankara Kurup, the lover of Malayalam literature and writer, Vijay CH wrote in Janayugam that the Malayalam language was dead long ago due to ungratefulness.
As the 118th birth anniversary of Malayalam poet G Sankara Kurup was commemmorated on June 3, 2019 lover of literature, journalist, former Scientist at Department of Atomic Energy, photographer, nature lover, art lover, passionate lover of cienema, culture and nation, Vijay CH wrote an article on Malayalam daily, Janayugam that due to ungratefulness shown by the fellow Malayalees, Malayalam was dead long ago. Before getting Vijay’s full view about the unfortunate saga of not recognising the bard, let us see in a nutshell where things stand now, regarding the initiatives to build a memorial for G Sankara Kurup so far.
Though, every years, the lovers of Malayalam literature would gather at Kurup’s house in Ernakulam, which is lying fore-lone, and remember the poet, but neither them, nor the Government are not able to fulfill the minimum recognition of a poet, who brought laurels in the form of Jnanpith (first recipient) and thus elevating the Malayalam language into its pristine glory. Even as the 118th Birth Anniversary of the poet went off quietly on last Monday, the plan of building a monument remained a piped dream. Although the thought of building a memorial for G Sankara Kurup, also known as Mahakavi G or plain G, as far back as in 2009, unfortunately, it is still remains in paper.
EN Nandakumar, General Secretary, G Sankara Kurup Memorial Protection Council told the New Indian Express that though the project was initiatd in 2009, nevertheless, the plan did not take off even after the then Government was game to offer one acre land in Kochi for the project. Last year, to a submission filed by John Fernandez, MLA in the Kerala State Assembly, the Minister, AC Moideen held that 25 cents of land was allotted to the Kochi Corporation for the purpose of building a memorial for G, the Corporation of Kochi, even after allocating Rs.5 lakh in its annual budget, failed in carrying the project forward.
Although, G was born in Angamaly, he spent considerable amount of his life in this house located in Kochi, as he was working as a lecturer at Maharaja’s College. Now here lies the glitch. Nandakumar told the daily that the land the Minister was referring to was owned by Greater Kochi Development Authority at Pandit Karuppan Smarakam near the High Court. He said that through the Right to Information Act, the Council learnt that the funds allocated to raise a memorial had already lapsed and any sort of initiative wasn’t taken either by the GCDA or the Koch Corporation to hand over the land. “Even, a clear plan on the nature of the project, its components and DPR are yet to be derived,” Nandakumar lamented.
The NIE report also said that the Kochi Corporation Welfare Standing Committee Chairman AB Sabu told the daily that the Government of Kerala has not demarcated the plot they claim to have identified. In fact, the Committee had communicated with the administration through official channels, the ground reality is that the land is yet to be demarcated. Sabu told the daily, “We have allocated funds for the project in our annual budget in excess of three terms, without allocation of land, we cannot proceed further.”
As of now, there is no clear evidence to show that the project would take off any time soon, nevertheless, Sabu hasn’t lost hope yet, if the statement he gave to the daily is anything to go by. Sabu assured that he will meet the members of the Council and cultural leaders and “We are hopeful of taking the project ahead, once the land is handed over to us,” Sabu added.
Coming back to Vijay, he took pain to visit the house G lived in Ernakulam, not far away from the International Airport. Vijay, who wrote the article in Janayugam, had also put a post on his Facebook page, expressing his anguish at the inordinate delay in recognising the poet in the form of raising a memorial in his own house, which is lying unattended.
Vijay wrote a day before the Birth Anniversary of G, “Odakuzhal (Flute) Award, which was instituted with the prize money of the Odakuzhal collection of poems of G Sankara Kurup, when every year, Malayalam writers and the Malayalees including me who enjoy all comforts, even without a pen, typing on computer, should not forget the day that is tomorrow.”
Much before Malayalam obtained the Srestha Bhasha status officially (2013), the Birth Anniversary of Mahakavi G Sankara Kurup, who brought the first Jnanpith to Malayalam in 1965. Although, it is more than 40 years, since G left this world, it is a severe dishonour that even a memorial had not been built on him. With this ingratitude, the moral loss that is happening to our dear language, the hard earned position of Classical Language only. Let our thinking be courageous, Vijay wrote.
Vijay and his spouse pay a visit to the house, where G wrote much of his creative works. The house is on the path of destruction. Thanks to G’s relatives, who visit the house occasionally and attend to errands, perhaps the building is yet to collapse! There is a government higher secondary school in the western side of the village in the name of the big man living in this small residence. I asked for the direction to those who had assembled in front of it sharing the evening news.
“Take this direction and if you walk past a little ahead, this path will give way to two way road. From there, if you take a walk through the dilapidated walk way, there you can see a donation box. That belongs to the temple. If you turn right, you will reach the temple. His house is located there only. As the house is unoccupied and lying there fore-lone, you will instantly recognise,” said a man.
As per the instruction, we reached the junction and took the unkempt road. After a while, like the friend at the junction told, we initially saw the donation box and without any delay the temple and the house next to that as well. The west entrance of more than 1500 year old Archeological Survey of India maintained Thirunayathodu Sivanarayana Temple. The house we yearned to see was on the right side. We made sure by asking an elderly lady who emerged from the temple. G lived in this house. The place is Nayathodu village. Ernakulam District. Close to the Kochi International Airport. It is only five kilometers away from the birth place of Advaitha philosopher Sree Sankaracharya.
As we could not see anyone around to take permission to enter the house, we pushed the adjacent gate a little and entered the courtyard. The premise seemed spic and span. Someone is coming and cleaning the courtyard daily. At least this much is being done. We were not sure to whom to thank. Whoever it is, our gratitude to them.
Mango tree, coconut tree, aricanut tree, jackfruit tree, tamarind tree, portia tree, cashew tree, Neem tree, Aathu tree, Ayini tree, Arya Neem tree and other Kerala specific vegetation thickly wooded in the garden. As an introduction to the birthplace of the Malayalam language culture’s architect’s house. The statement G made came rushing to my memory that the nature he saw was what inspired his works.
“My heart is the anchor of my individuality. I absorb air, light and cold from the village atmosphere I trusted. Therefore, my poem is one part of that village heart,” These are the most widely quoted lines of G, Vijay wrote. These prose of G can be found in “Muthum Chippiyum,” which is equivalent to a poem in terms of literary beauty.
If in literature if it is the combination of meaning and meter, in G’s works, we can see triangular fusion of meaning, meter and nature. Let me say that there was no other prose-verse literary description which was so romantic with nature. G was the Indian reflection of British poet, William Wordsworth, who was devoted to nature and Italian poet, Giacomo Leopardi. Perhaps, romanticism and mysticism might have deeply influenced G.
G reminisces about his childhood this way, “Seeing the lightning breeze rising from one cloud’s lap to the other cloud’s lap, when no one was near, in the curl of darkness during the south west monsoon, during my childhood, I had jumped on the portico of my small house, without knowing for what.”
Today, the portico of the small house is deserted. The house itself is orphaned. Infamous. This house, which had directly witnessed the birth of several works, which were insightful gems of literature, has now standing on the way side without even having the popularity of the bus shelter. Even the bus shelter, where travelers wait, will have its name written. But, here, even that has also been denied. This is the extreme heights of irreverence meted out to the great poet, who Made the Malayalam, the Malayalam. If a name board was hung on the entrance wall suspended on a nail, then the outside visitors who visit the Siva Narayana Temple, will come to know that this was the residence of the great poet. Even pilgrims from far off places visited the Siva Naryana Temple, which has felt the presence of Sree Sankaracharya.Was it deliberate that the literate Kerala had ruled that the poet did not deserve even the little hype too?
When he got a job in Maharaja’s College and till he shifted his stay in Ernakulam (1937), G absorbed the literary life from the fresh air of Nayathodi and Thiruvillwamala. I think to underline that he was made a global poet with G’s works such as Vishwadarshanam, Sandhyaragam, Jeevanasangeetham, Sahithyakouthukam and Pathikante Paatu. Our land, which has more literacy movements than any other state, are we interested to restrict him to the limits of region? Relegating other languages in terms of having more past, more collection of books, base capacity and source of wealth, G succeeded in bringing home the first Jnanpit Award competing with other languages of India with the new generation Malayalam. The Pathanka Jury, after going through the works published in thirty years (from 1921 to 1951) in nine languages, found G’s collection of Malayalam poems consisting of 60 verses as the best. It was only later that other languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marati, Gujarati, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and kannada obtained the Jnanpit award. If you review it basically, those who love the mother tongue can understand that the Classic Language status conferred on Malayalam in 2013, actually, in the ’60s itself the language gained the status with G’s Odakuzhal, that created appeal across the country. The Classical Language status which Malayalam gained in 2013 had only academic merit. Why he is not getting his due even now, when the great poet had contributed so much for the Malayalam language?
What can we term it other than ingratitude, when we were not able to build a memorial for the great poet even after four decades after his death? We have already made memorials to yesteryear literary luminaries such as Ezhuthachan in his birthplace of Tirur, Kumaran Asan in Thonnakal, Ravi Varma in Vayalar, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai in Sangaramangalam, Changampuzha Krishna Pillai in Kochi, Vallathol Narayana Menon in Cheruthuruthi and OV Vijayan in Tasrak and we are now in the process of building a memorial in the memory of Kamala Surayya in Punnayurkulam.
There is no doubt that even without a memorial, G will be remembered for his live works. Even then, don’t we take efforts to end this discrimination? The older generation, which takes pride in their language as Classic Language, the generation which constantly share information pertaining to 3G and 4G all the time, what if they spoke about the G who was sidelined!
When they carry android and laptop, what if they give respect to the ‘notebook’ containing the autobiographical articles and jottings in the diary. “After praying Sivanarayanan and ending the Nayathod visit, we looked at the house to our heart’s content which witnessed many a literary work being created. We also prayed that the Sooryakanti and Nalumanipoo should continue to grow as pooja pushpams,” Vijay signs off.