Memoirs of an eventful life
G. Janardhana Kurup has a chequered career running alongside the history of the State. On the launch of his autobiography `Ente Jeevitham', he shares some fond memories with K. PRADEEP
SITTING IN his room, on his favourite chair, the glass-topped table in front of him piled with files, papers and books, G. Janardhana Kurup reels off the story of his eventful life. Sinking into one of those comfortable chairs, watching friends and relatives waft in and out of the room, listening to this amazing man as he went on uninterrupted, a dramatic life unfolded. The life of a man, who has lived well, gained respect, filled his niche, looked for the best and always gave the best he had.
He was not simply a successful criminal lawyer, but could be best described as a jack-of-all-trades and master of all. A man who left an indelible mark on the freedom struggle in Travancore, a hardcore left wing politician who plotted against Sir. C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, the founder of the Kerala People's Arts Club (KPAC), singer, and actor, Mr. Kurup has just completed his autobiography.
`Ente Jeevitham' records not just the history of this versatile man, but is an account of the struggle for freedom, of the Communist Party in the State, of the people who shaped the course of political events and of the birth of a new socio-cultural consciousness.
"This book took me nearly a year to write. It was first serialised in a weekly that ran to around 100 chapters. Most of the writing was done at Varkala, Kozhikode, and then here in Kochi. Every chapter ended in an interesting climax, something done deliberately to keep the reader eager to read the next one. When this had to be turned into a book I got a lot of help from Dr. Lakshmi, my daughter's friend."
What strikes one, as Mr. Kurup talks, is his astounding memory. He needs no reference for dates, conversation, incidents; memories tumble down, loud and clear. He recites songs and poems, sometimes even singing snatches from them and can even narrate whole portions from the landmark play `Ningalenne Communistaki,' in which he had also acted. "I was fuming when I was arrested and brought before the Diwan for leading a student agitation. This was in 1942. I must have answered him quite arrogantly, but I was stunned by his very cool response. `The boy is too hot. Keep him in some cool quarters and feed him with plenty of ice-cream."
His memories take him back to his days with the Kerala Socialist Party (KSP), surprise meeting with P. Krishna Pillai, his association with M.N.Govindan Nair the men who influenced him to switch over to the Communist Party, of lesser known patriots like T.M.Varghese and a whole lot of events that will throw a rare insight into the history of the State.
Known to be one who always stood for his ideals, Mr. Kurup confesses that in writing this book he has climbed down a bit. "This is a pragmatic approach. My opinions, often aired in conversations, need not be recorded in print. I personally feel, it is improper and unjustified. Unless, of course, they involve very serious issues that can adversely affect the society at large."
A lot more of Mr. Kurup's eventful life has not found a place in this 500-page autobiography. . "Not much really. But if I get another chance to revise this I will surely include the days spent at American College, Madurai. I have made a passing mention of this phase but it could have been elaborated to include my friendship with K. Balakrishnan, reading and learning by rote the editorials published in The Hindu, working with the Socialist Party and all that."
What comes out from this work is the emotional, impulsive nature of the man. "This is why I have always maintained that I was never a revolutionary but a rebel. And I have always valued human relations, even if it meant compromising on principles."
Perhaps the most touching part of this autobiography is where Mr. Kurup talks about his wife, Sreedevi Amma, passages that come straight from the heart. "She is responsible for what I'm today. This is not some kind of sweet talk, but a confession. Immediately after marriage I was forced to go into hiding. Then I went off to study Law. It was she who supported my studies and I can imagine the sacrifices she made for my sake. Then, after graduation, I floated into the theatre movement. I think I must have been really cruel. But she never complained, looked after my five daughters, made my home."
The conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the publishers of the book. The first five copies were handed over to Mr. Kurup, who took a cursory glance and put it on the table. He then, impulsively, got up, walked to the drawing room where his wife, daughter and grandchildren were chatting and handed over the first copy of his life history to his wife, the woman behind his success.
"Is there so much to write on your life?" she asked, even as she pored over the pages. Nobody replied. That silence was most eloquent.
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