At home with fact and fiction
"Urge to write comes from an urge to convey," he states emphatically. What is conveyed? "May be a message, a value, an experience! Writing is a release of emotion! I wrote my first story at the age of 14. I wanted to communicate something to others and share a strong feeling through my story then. Seeing my name in print was an additional thrill! I still write for the same reasons but, perhaps, enjoy a lot more recognition now!"
The soft-spoken tall man smiles at you, and you agree with him. Meet Kavana Sarma, a civil engineering professor of 40 years standing at home and abroad, who has a penchant for Telugu short story and novel. In spite of being the recipient of many a literary award for `humour' in writings, he projects himself as a story-teller with a seriousness of purpose.
" Science demands a logical explanation, which is accepted as a result of your research and findings, whereas a story has many characters with different reasoning grounds for their actions and behaviour. I sometimes hide behind those people and tell a hard-core truth, which happens to be my particular `finding in life', perhaps. It is called `sarva sakshi kathanam'. Almost every writer uses this form to convey an idea. But I seem to get labelled `harsh' in the process."
Does it bother him? It doesn't appear so. Sarma takes inspiration from authors like Somerset Maughm, who in their days suffered the same kind of criticism. They wrote, anyway. So his stories and other features keep finding a place in popular magazines that eagerly grab and publish them.
He appreciates the writings of many of his contemporaries. He does not like some for their tendency to write without grasping the subject matter thoroughly. Does a scientific approach
to his own writings make him a harsh judge of these people? "No. I feel that one should write with conviction and respect for the subject. Not just write for others with a thought that anything they say will be swallowed indisputably!"
A good scientist, Sarma feels that he is not recognised as a writer in professional circles, and not known for his scientific achievements in the literary field, although his occupation and hobby are interlinked. Without allowing this slight dissatisfaction to affect him, he strives to reduce the distance between what he preaches and what he practises, with an nborn integrity.
The natural creative atmosphere in his home inspires not only him, but also other members of his family to pursue the same literary interests. His father, brother and daughter also dabble in writing. They all read each other's works, sometimes with critical interest, oft times with admiration.
Sarma fills his leisure hours with various interests like participating in literary meetings, sports, etc., and understandably becomes the target for his wife's wrath. "So, we fight. I don't say my marriage is all smooth sailing, but it is not on rocks either!" He grins at his better half, who had just then arrived on the scene to discover what was going on. She responds with an affectionate smile. And we know he is once again telling it as it is!
Two important events in his life have been, establishing an engineering college, VITAM (Viswanadha Institute of Technology and Management) and the return to his favourite city Vizag. His most inspired works have been `Vyangya Kavanalu' and `Paridhi'. While the first is full of satire as the name suggests, the second is about `nuclear' family size, its advantages and disadvantages.
On parting, he says, "I am an eternally curious person. It may be my weakness, but I enjoy being so. It provides a basis for all my activities. You can quote me on this. You can also quote me on another. I married this lady (pointing to his wife who stayed on, listening to the discussion) out of choice in those days. She provides the necessary harmony and balance in my life now, which are as important for this life-style of mine, another personal choice!"
And we know, he is not saying this just to preserve peace at home, but speaks out of sheer commitment to the strong values he believes in.
Be it an engineering institution or the institution of marriage, Kavana Sarma seems to have given them both - his best!
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