Chalam and Telugu were very dear to Dharma Rao

Chalam and Telugu were very dear to Dharma Rao

March 19 was really a bad day. That morning I came to know that 37 persons had been killed and 15 injured when a Mumbai- bound bus from Goa fell into...

March 19 was really a bad day. That morning I came to know that 37 persons had been killed and 15 injured when a Mumbai- bound bus from Goa fell into a river bed in Khed at Ratnagiri district, about 200 kilometers from Mumbai. The same day, another bad news startled me. C Dharma Rao, one of my best friends breathed his last at Hyderabad in the early hours of 19th. I first met Dharma Rao in the year 1994 at a seminar arranged by Telugu Research Scholars of Hyderabad University on the occasion of the well known firebrand of Modern Telugu literature, Chalam's birth centenary. This two day seminar had taken place at Hyderabad Central University in Gachibowli. Many stalwarts of Telugu literature were invited to participate in the seminar and I was one of them. When I was introduced to Sri Dharma Rao, a tall, frail looking gentleman I was greatly impressed by his simplicity. He said "I know you are a Chalamite like me. I read some of your articles on Chalam. You are one of those rare persons who had understood Chalam". I felt that was a great compliment. From then onwards, Dharma Rao became one of my lifelong friends. Literature is a strong force that brings about a wonderful chemistry between different persons. Chalam's literature had brought many friends to me. Enlightened people like Dharma Rao, Vavilala Subba Rao, Sripathi, M Partha Sarathi, G Ram Reddy and even Vara Vara Rao of those days came together and became permanent friends. Chalam was a great binding force to all of us. Another meeting that I had with Dharam Rao was at New Delhi in March 1995. This was again on the occasion of Chalam's birth centenary celebrations. This was arranged by of some of the enthusiastic admirers of Chalam who were living at New Delhi. Ganeswar Rao, Sripathi, Amarendra were among them. Dharma Rao who was chosen to be the Chairman of Chalam's Birth Centenary celebrations was invited to this meeting. Vavilala Subba Rao, Olga, Vadrev Veeralakshmi Devi, Naleswaram Shankaram and I were other invitees. I was requested by Dharma Rao to write a paper on Chalam in English as there would be non Telugu audience in Delhi. When we both stayed in the same room, I read my English paper to Dharma Rao and asked his opinion on it and give his suggestions. He listened with rapt attention and said 'your paper will go a long way in making Chalam understandable to non Telugu people'.
The seminar took place in the auditorium at Andhra Bhavan. I was asked to present my paper first so that non Telugu people can understand and appreciate the essence of Chalam's philosophy. After the first session, Dharma Rao came to me and told me that after hearing my paper in English, many non Telugu persons in the audience wondered how they were not aware of a writer like Chalam who had written so many short stories, novels and articles advocating the freedom for women during Nineteen Twenties itself. 'No other Indian writer had taken the cause of women's liberation so vehemently and so consistently as Chalam'. Two things were very dear to Dharma Rao. One is the writer Chalam and the second one is Telugu language. He was a genuine lover of his mother tongue Telugu. He waged a relentless war to make Telugu an administrative language and medium of instruction up to high school level. He along with Samala Ramesh Babu established 'Bhashodyama Samakhya' in 1993 and put forward many proposals to Government to make Telugu both administrative language and medium of instruction. When he was working as the Secretary to the Chairman of official language committee he worked whole heartedly to see that Telugu is used for all purposes in all Government Offices. A funny incident requires to be narrated here. A stature of 'Telugu Thalli' was installed on tank bund at Hyderabad, opposite to Secretariat. On the statue the 'Telugu Thalli' was written in English. Dharma Rao and S Ramesh Babu had brought this indiscretion to the notice of the media and Government. Then only, the Government had got it written in Telugu. Even the name of "Andhra Pradesh Secretariat" was written in English. It was later written in Telugu as "Andhra Pradesh Sachivalayam" after Dharma Rao and S Ramesh Babu made a representation on behalf of Bhashodyama Samakhya. It was at Vijayawada that I met Dharma Rao on 27th May 2012 and it was the last time that I met him. The occasion was the release of the book 'Chalam Sahitya Sangraham'. This is what we call in English as 'Readers' Guide to Chalam'. Almost all the writings of Chalam are introduced in this edition and some original parts of those writings are also presented in this Readers' Guide. In Telugu, this is the first of its kind. This monumental book was edited jointly by Dharma Rao and Vavilala Subba Rao. I had the privilege of releasing this book at Vijayawada and obviously Dharma Rao was one of the speakers on the occasion. Sri Dharma Rao and Vavilala Subba Rao requested me to write a biographical novel on Chalam in that meeting. I made a promise to both of them that I will write this biographical novel taking Chalam's life as its theme. I thought of showing this novel to Dharma Rao after completing it. It's very sad that he is no more. If at all I write this novel, I will dedicate it to Dharma Rao. OPINION
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