Recently, as I saw a front page headline report in The Hindu about a man-hunter leopard creating havoc in some districts of the state, adrenaline rushed to my ‘memory’ to remind me of ‘ಕಾಡಿನ ಕತೆಗಳು’ from my favorite ಪೂ.ಚಂ.ತೇ, penname of Sri K P Poornachandra Tejasvi.
If our mothers used to tell horror stories to push us to sleep when we were small, Poochante used to usher us into an adventurous world of Jim Corbett hunting a Man-eater in the Indian jungles, dragging us out of sleep the whole night. Often, Corbett would have to choose between life and death to kill a big furious cat raging poor villagers. I was so much occupied with his books that there were times when once H Nagaraj Rao sir, my Math teacher, had beat me for reading a ‘ಮಹಾಯುದ್ದ -3’ under the desk instead of listening to his math (not a favorite subject of mine, then) lessons! It was also a favorite hobby for most of us to read these Millennium series books, like ‘ವಿಸ್ಮಯ ವಿಶ್ವ’, ‘ದೇಶ ವಿದೇಶ’, ‘ಮಹಾಯುದ್ದ -1, 2, 3’, ‘ಕಾಡಿನ ಕತೆಗಳು’, et cetera. Poochante’s ‘ರುದ್ರಪ್ರಯಾಗದ ಭಯಾನಕ ನರಭಕ್ಷಕ’ (translation from Jim Corbett’s hunter adventures) and ‘ಕಾಡಿನ ಕತೆಗಳು’ series (translations from Kenneth Anderson’s) were the most popular and widely read stuff among my friends during Navodaya. The memories of my junior classes in Navodaya are hued with Poochante’s books. At the time I didn’t think that this was going to open the doors to a whole new generation of book readers and ultimately lead to the revolution of crazy book reading habits in Navodaya, thanks to Poochante!
My first experience of a good book was with K P Poornachandra Tejasvi’s ‘ಮಹಾಯುದ್ದ ’, an episode of a psychiatrist doctor saving many Jews using his contacts with Himmler, Hitler’s right hand! Later, I have watched this account of Academy Award winning movie by Steven Spielberg — ‘Schindler’s List’ — Liam Neeson playing the role of Oscar Schindler (he won an Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ too), who saved hundreds of Jews from the concentration camps in the Nazi Germany. Poochante’s ‘ಮಹಾಯುದ್ದ ’ books register translations of many interestingly covert encounters of the World War II. (This had lead us into a local World War among ourselves employing paper-made frog models!!) ‘ವಿಸ್ಮಯ ’, ‘ವಿಸ್ಮಯ ವಿಶ್ವ’, ‘ದೇಶ ವಿದೇಶ’ are, undoubtedly, some of the unique pieces of works in Kannada literature because they brought that special English literature to our readers. Another equally inspiring book that has sent minds crazy is ‘ಫ್ಲೈಯಿಂಗ್ ಸಾಸರ್ಸ್ ‘, that curious wonder about flying saucers and aliens has never stopped for some of us! To quote, ‘Voyager’, and the ‘Golden Record’ about which I had first read in his book, crossed the Solar system recently.
Poornachandra Tejasvi was a thinker, writer, novelist, environmentalist, ornithologist, photographer, a good cooking expert but most importantly a first class philosopher, like his father — Kuvempu. Poochante came out of his father’s shadow to establish his own image as, from Wiki, ‘a ಪ್ರಗತಿಶೀಲ’ (progressive) writer after transiting from ನವ್ಯ (Neo-) to ಭಂಡಾಯ (rebel literature)’. But he was none! His writings broke all the boundaries of these so-called literary class waves. He consciously chose a narrative mode that didn’t uphold any of these ideologies, but rather, entertained a ‘scientific outlook’ of a curious mind. I find the same mysticism and deception in Poochante’s ideas that the writer Dan Brown and director Christopher Nolan theatricise! A good glance at his books pictures his image as a high-rated philosopher — ‘ಕರ್ವಾಲೋ’ and ‘ಚಿದಂಬರ ರಹಸ್ಯ’ — two stand-alone master pieces in Kannada which define the art of story-telling in an original way. We cannot forget his famous character ‘ಮಂದಣ್ಣ’ of ‘ಕರ್ವಾಲೋ’ showing Karvalo and ‘team’ the way through the dense forests of the Western Ghats in that adventurous quest of finding the flying (gliding, rather) lizard. Poochante expressed a clean purist philosophy through his short stories — ‘ತಬರನ ಕತೆ ‘, ‘ಕಿರಗೂರಿನ ಗಯ್ಯಾಳಿಗಳು’, ‘ಪಾಕ ಕ್ರಾಂತಿ’ and other collections. And his other novels — ‘ಜುಗಾರಿ ಕ್ರಾಸ್ ‘, ‘ಅಬಚೂರಿನ ಪೋಸ್ಟಾಫೀಸು’, ‘ಮಾಯಾಮೃಗ ‘, are all-time favorites for all. ‘ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ದೆಸೆಯಿಂದ ’, ‘ಪ್ಯಾಪಿಲೋನ್ ’ (a translation from ‘Papillon’), ‘ವಿಮರ್ಶೆಯ ವಿಮರ್ಶೆ’ are some works which every young wanna-be writer must read. ‘ಕನ್ನಡ ನಾಡಿನ ಹಕ್ಕಿಗಳು’ was one such novel that had lead me and my buddy Gururaj VK to take immense interest in birds and spend time identifying some of the species around the Campus (That was a crazy idea, then!). This series of books were very interesting because the author described the habits of the birds in the way he observed them . . waiting for hours at a stretch in the Western Ghats with his companions — a camera and Kiwi, his pet. Like his father Kuvempu who worshipped nature, Poochante ‘always aspired to look into the clandestine qualities of nature and tried to analyze and understand it’.
His other important works include ‘ನಿಗೂಢ ಮನುಷ್ಯರು’, ‘ಪರಿಸರದ ಕತೆ ’, ‘ಏರೋಪ್ಲೇನ್ ಚಿಟ್ಟೆ ಮತ್ತು ಇತರ ಕತೆಗಳು’, ‘ನಡೆಯುವ ಕಡ್ಡಿ ಹಾರುವ ಎಲೆ’, ‘ಅಲೆಮಾರಿಯ ಅಂಡಮಾನ್ ಮತ್ತು ಮಹಾನದಿ ನೈಲ್ ‘ and many more unpublished literature. Recently, one of the Poochante’s earliest novel was published, something which he had written at twenty-one!
Towards the end of this blog, I like to remember that important book he wrote — ‘ಅಣ್ಣನ ನೆನಪು‘, a book dedicated to the memories of his father — Kuvempu. Thinking of this book ‘ಅಣ್ಣನ ನೆನಪು ’, there is an episode in it when Poochante recalls Kuvempu explaining him the ‘Einstein’s relativity theory’. I could not give it a perfect translation –
There is a coin hanging in one of Greece’s cathedrals. One side of the coin reads — ‘What is written on the other side is true’ and the second side reads ‘What is written on the other side is false’!