I belong to Rajahmundry where Kandukuri Veeresalingam had written the first novel ever written in the Telugu language. However, it was ‘ SARAT BABU’ who had first provoked my interest in reading Telugu literature. Sarat Babu, the famous novelist had written in Bengali language but fortunately, his books are translated into Telugu language and while I grew up in Rajahmundry, his novels were extremely popular and had quickly aroused my curiosity. In 1953 the Telugu film ‘DEVADASU’ with Akkineni Nageswara Rao( A N R ) in the lead role was released and the songs from that film though not written by Sarat Babu also became very popular. It was not the popularity of this film which had drawn me towards the novels written by Sarat Babu. I had actually started reading his translated stories a few years later after joining Danavaipeta Municipal High School. I was attracted by his powerful narrative style and the portrayal of the characters in his stories. I know Telugu people who learned the Bengali language just to get the pleasure of reading Sarat Babu’s original works. I also know some of my friends who acquired their names from Sarat Babu. I should acknowledge the fact that his novels gave me the impetus to develop the habit of reading books. While Telugu people could embrace and adore a Bengali novelist, I have not witnessed any love for Tamil writers. While I attended Danavaipeta Municipal High School in Rajahmundry, I learned about ‘TIRUKKURAL’ and was not introduced to any other Tamil literature.
THE TELUGU-TAMIL DIVIDE :
Since Mylapore, Madras is my birthplace, I grew up with a sense of fondness for that City and during the 1950s I had visited Madras several times as my maternal grandparents still lived there. But, in Rajahmundry, my native place, I could not experience any sense of connectedness with Madras even though Rajahmundry was part of the then Madras Presidency/State.. At Rajahmundry I got connected to the nation and much of it was inspired by the writers and thinkers of Bengal. At the beginning of the 20th century, Bengal had shaped our sentiments and had exerted a great influence. I am not surprised that ‘VANDE MATARAM’ is our National Song and ‘JANA GANA MANA’ is our National Anthem and the honor goes to Bengal. Unfortunately, Madras apart from being the State Capital could not excite Telugu people’s’ hearts in the way Bengal did. I can not recall the name of even one public figure from the Tamil speaking areas of Madras State who may have visited Rajahmundry or other Telugu speaking areas of Madras State. Actually, the relationship between Telugu and Tamils started deteriorating after India’s independence in 1947 and it led to the linguistic partition of India. I am proud of my Telugu heritage but I am not truly happy with the partition of the country on a linguistic basis.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
C/O Shri. R. Suryanarayana Murthy, M.A., B.Ed.,
13-92 First Cross Road, Prakasam Nagar, Rajahmundry,
East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
S.S.L.C. MARCH 1961, Danavaipeta Municipal High School, Rajahmundry.
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