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Pulsating Portraits of Telugu Rural Life

C Subba Rao
Former Head, Department of English,
SVRM College, Nagaram.
E-mail: subbaraochepuru@gmail.com

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The one remarkable thing about
Tripuraneni Gopichand is that he is very
clearheaded, unbiased and unprejudiced.
As a creative writer and artist he is
committed to the demands of art,
without allowing himself to be carried
away by any didactic obsessions because
he knows that didacticism dilutes the
quality of art. He is a writer who has
distinguished himself in all the genres of
literature which he has attempted—
novel, short story, philosophical essay and playwriting. He is an
intellectual of the top order but he never allows his intellect or vast
scholarship or his thorough grasp of almost all philosophical systems to
overshadow the creative beauty of his writings. That is to say that he
has tremendous balance and restraint which are very much needed in
creative writing.

His short stories are woven around unpretentious themes and


uncommonly common people. We find him almost all the time
delineating the cultural matrix of the countryside of Andhra Pradesh.
He is a story teller who does not depend for effect upon vulgar
sensationalism or cheap suspense element. He relies instead on lively
characterization and evocation of atmosphere proper to and necessary
for the story. Everyone knows the depth of his philosophical knowledge
but it is refreshing to notice that he rarely philosophizes; he only
presents in vivid terms the actual scenes from real life, especially the
life of the farming community, the domestic relations of simple folks. In
“Attachment”, he graphically depicts the intense attachment to the
fields, of a farmer who has spent all his lifetime toiling and working in
them, not just for living but out of a sort of spiritual affinity. In
“Introspection” he makes us vividly feel the tug-of-war raging silently in
the mind of a wife between honest housewifely love and an unfulfilled
spirit of independence natural to all of us, though she is devoted to her
husband. “Rivalry” is a fine story in which fatherly love and nobility of
character win over the erring son. Gopichand has the courage of
conviction to follow the dictates of his judgment without ever thinking
for a moment of what others might comment. “Obedient Husband” is a
very short story which fills just a page, but it ends with a telling effect.
Ramarao is upset that his friend Kistappa blindly believes whatever his
wife tells him, but when asked who has told him so, he tells him that he
has been told by his wife. Funny and ironical! Brevity is one of the
virtues of Gopichand’s writings. In “Fear” the uncertainties and the
ultimate loneliness in life as well as the irony of contentment are very
well presented through the humanist concerns of a young man. In “Bus
Halted - Left” we are made to see through the responses of a
thoughtful young man, Ramachandra Rao, the sublimation of personal
love into patriotism which is surely its nobler expression.
“Impoverishment” shows how utter helplessness caused by poverty
turns people unimaginably irrational, or sometimes brings out the
worst jealousy and meanness. “All in Wives” somehow does not make
an absorbing reading, though the point that is sought to be driven
home is clear—that it is always the wives who are blamed, slighted,
insulted and harassed. A more confident change of attitude comes
about in Tayaramma, but it is sad that her husband remains as bitter as
ever. “Neighborhood” is about the petty quarrels which neighbors in
our society generally have with one another. Though they are petty by
nature one can imagine the enormous social tensions to which we are
all subject and which disturb our peace in a big way. “The Most
Harassed Heart” touchingly suggests how personal alienation and
anguish lead a person to realize the sufferings of the people at large
and lead him to join a revolutionary movement seeking redress and
ultimate liberation from the tyranny of the times. “Human Life”—can it
be a short story? Isn’t it something like a tidbit?
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“The Retired Ox” stands out as
a brilliant short story well written
and well translated. The story
runs in the form of a painful
soliloquy and it moves us deeply
with pity and anguish. The
decadence that has set in human
relationships and the absolute lack of compassion even for the animals
which have served us all along throughout their lives have very well
been shown in a moving way. It is one of the best stories in the
collection. Gopichand is keenly interested in recreating the village life in
all its aspects and presents pulsating portraits of Telugu rural life. He
feels quite at home when he deals with simple folks with the rural
background. The physical suffering and the mental anguish of the aged
ox have been raised to universal relevance indicating the inevitable
predicament of the whole of mankind in old age. In “Mother” the veiled
suggestion is that it is not so much the lullaby as his mother that the
boy needs to be by his side at bedtime. For a child its mother is its
whole world. “It Could Happen Like This” proves the point that
revolutions occur out of spontaneous indignation of the masses and an

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all-out preparedness for accepting the consequences. They do not
occur on somebody’s empty speeches.

“Me–My Character” may not merit to be considered a story, but it


details with telling effect the art of story writing. This shows
Gopichand’s wholesome vision of a good story. Gopichand could invest
a tree, a babul tree here or an ox there with a great personality
convincingly characterized by dignity, nobility, compassion and a sort of
spiritual refinement. He shows effectively how values have
degenerated though knowledge has exploded. The modern man might
not have lost reason, but he has surely lost compassion.

We find in Gopichand the wholesome blend of idealism and realism. In


“The Lamp of Hope” he suggests that living well itself is a bliss and
there is no need to discover the purpose of life. But he never loses the
sight of existing realities, harsh and unpleasant. In “Hindu Chastity” he
deals with disharmony. All closely-related people live in the same house
disliking one another. How true! He brings out the squalor and misery
in the lives of domestic helps in “Servant Girl”. “Fallen Women” is a
good story with a reformist message. The fallen women in the story
have really become awakened women with a determination to live
honorably, and not just that, they want to awaken boys under their
upbringing to rebel when they grow up against the abominable
tradition of treating women of a certain caste as prostitutes. We never
feel that the story is written with the conscious intention of conveying a
message. But the message emerges as the events unfold and characters
reveal themselves. In another story, “Fathers and Sons”, he brings out
the widespread disharmony between fathers and sons with the advent
of the daughter-in-law into the family fold.

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Gopichand doesn’t choose pompous
themes and never strives for tedious
intellectual elaborations in his stories. He
writes with conviction and presents life as
he finds it around him in an artistic
framework that suits a short story. So we
find in his stories a lot of social relevance
and they provide us literary pleasure. As
we read them and enjoy them, they get
into our minds imperceptibly great human values.

GRK Murty’s command of English matches his love of it and his literary
temperament and artistic sensibility, his passionate propensity for
translation and his ardent admiration for Gopichand make it easy for
him to translate the beauty of the original Telugu stories into English,
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and his translation retains their native flavor intact . His style is simple,
crisp, and unadorned. Murty is very faithful to the original text in
Telugu. But sometimes a translator can deviate from the exact
expression in the original and transcreate it so as to bring out and
heighten the effect of the subtle nuances of the beauty of the original.
Where translation fails, transcreation succeeds. In fact, a good
translator is a transcreator, and Murty is such a one. I congratulate GRK
Murty on his meritorious work and the C P Brown Academy on its
commendable services in making the treasures of Telugu literature
accessible to the larger international community of lovers of literature,
through excellent translations.

You can read more stories at


www.karpuramanjari.blogspot.com

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