Serene but stoic
R. Ramachandran's small but eloquent collection of poetry comprised words that came from the heart.
The entire gamut of his poetry has been lauded for the serene quality of his `twilight glow.'
SIMPLICITY HIS FORTE: R. Ramachandran.
There are poets and then there are poets; those who rush to the writing desk at the drop of a hat, and those who scribble a piece only when the inner urge is irresistible. R. Ramachandran, who passed away recently at the age of 82, belonged to the second category.
His small corpus comprises just three score poems compiled in half-a-dozen volumes (`Pinne,' `Shyamasundari,' `Enthinee Yatra,' `Saandhya Nikunjangal,' `R. Ramachandrante Kavithakal' and `Ramachandrante Krithikal'). Amid the present crop of poets, most of whom write a lot without having much to say, he was indeed a rarity, a magnificent exception.
Modernism in Malayalam
A professor of Malayalam at Malabar Christian College, Kozhikode, Ramachandran was well-versed in Sanskrit and English. He took to writing early in his youth and has been hailed as one of the harbingers of modernism in Malayalam poetry. A non-conformist in content and in the nuances of composition, he wrote little, his pieces appearing few and far between. In fact, he preferred silence to `prolific utterance.' He likened his silences to
`the birds that fall benumbed in the dead of winter.'
What distinguished him from others of his ilk was the astounding brevity of expression and the profound sense of sadness that characterised his creations. Seldom did he `flutter like a wounded butterfly' revealing in romantic frenzy or pursue the fiery path of a `professed rebel.' Social concern was never his cup of joy, nor was political strife.
He withdrew himself into his shell, probed deep into the intricacies of his inner self, and gave vent to the intimations of his soul. As he has written, his `solitary grief' springs from the eternal truth that `everything is hapless in this world.'
Ramachandran spoke in a voice that was bereft of borrowed epithets or built-in prejudices. Lucid and simple, and devoid of frills, he used a style that came straight from the heart. Certain terms such as dusk, purple sky, gloom, silent star, dark path, twilight and lonely wall recur in his poems, which in turns emerge as enchanting motifs. There is also a touch of the sublime in his sadness, and a tinge of the metaphysical about his melancholy. Little wonder, the entire gamut of his poetry has been lauded for the serene quality of his `twilight glow.' When he repeats `there is nothing' (`Onnumilla'), the meaning is quite obvious. Besides, he has stated rather point-black:
I guard the orphan corpse of life'.
Incidentally, a representative collection of his poems, `R. Ramachandrante Kavithakal', fetched him the Kendra Sahitya Akademi award in 2001. But, content with what he was, he did not appear to be excited about the national accolade, and took it in his stride with a sad smile. It was his conviction that `living as a poet is the cardinal thing, not writing verse.'
His was truly a lone voice, serene and stoic at the same time.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu