Crusader of social justice
The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words this remark of George Eliot is so right when we read the stories of...
“The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words” this remark of George Eliot is so right when we read the stories of doctor-turned-writer Late Dr Kesava Reddy. He was born in Thalupula village in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. He did his PUC in Tirupati and Medicine from Pondicherry. As a doctor, he has rendered his services to the patients as well as to the society by exposing the inequality, untouchability, and ignorance of the underprivileged classes in his stories. His books have fewer pages and more messages. He wrote his books in simple Chittoor accent, which makes you native with that language. His incomparable style of writing always reminds the apt words of EB White: “Use the smallest word that does the job.” His novels are considered as “Novelika” (novella) because of their preciseness and a smaller number of pages.
As a writer, he has contributed to the ‘Rayalaseema’ literature with his works by reflecting the culture of the petty feudal village culture without any hypocrisy. His characters always represent the conflict of the life of the poor and their unawareness. Most of his stories reveal the role of might over the weak and alteration of weaker sections as sympathisers of the feudal system of those villages. It was noticeable that Dr Reddy’s stories always highlighted the disunity between the two major Dalit castes such as ‘Mala’ and ‘Madiga’ and their age-old struggle in the villages. His novels always prompted the required social awareness against the daylight robbery of the produce of the working class sweat. He always believed that another revolution is necessary for the eradication of the caste system. It is very unfortunate that nowadays the governments are still promoting the wretched caste system by announcing sops to them that are relevant to their caste profession.
Dr Kesava Reddy was very much influenced by Gurajada’s ‘Kanya Sulkam’ and in almost all his stories he introduced the character ‘Bairagi’. He intelligently introduces this role in all stories with a spiritual touch. The Bairagi character resembles Prajakavi Vemana, a spiritual sage and a future predictor Sri Veera Bramham, who were always satirically exposed the social disorder and caste inequalities. The Bairagi character always fills the confidence in the minds of oppressed and motivates them to take revenge. His novels really make the reader to turn pages with more interest and satisfy him in the climax with the poetic justice provided by the writer. His novels and his characters always dwell around the dignity of labour and propagate the fragrance of sweat wetted soil. His stories always depict the robbery of hard work of the society by the feudal system and middle-men. However, he hasn’t confined not only to represent the oppressed classes but also represented the woes of upper caste, small and marginal farmers. This angle reveals that Dr Reddy was a sympathiser of oppressed irrespective of caste.
His novella ‘Athadu Adavini Jayinchadu’ is a very example of a perfect monologue and it makes the reader experience an infinite empathy with the old man. His obsession to protect the mother pig and litter makes the reader attentive. His self-talk and self-motivation during his efforts to protect the mother pig and farrow teach us to bear up the difficulties of life struggle. All his endeavours become futile and finally, he loses everything for which he has confronted various obscurities with spontaneous strategies. His ‘Munemma’ reveals the power of a woman and her firm determination to take revenge on the murderers of her husband. Although this story garnered criticism by the women activists, it unambiguously states that women are more courageous in odd situations and adapt themselves to face the challenges. The novel namely ‘Ramundundadu-Rajjimuindadi’ clearly depicts the agrarian crisis and their plight due to debt-ridden lives. This novel depicts the difficulties of ryots in repaying loans due to a bad harvest and the bank authorities enthuse to auction the lands for the recovery of the same.
Through this novel, the writer tried to depict the migration of small-scale farmers due to their stunted growth in agriculture. His ‘Incredible Goddess’ published as serial in 1977 in Andhra Patrika and printed as a book in 1979. This book highlights the necessity of economic equality to uproot the caste system. This novel is still relevant in this 21st century and shows that the caste and its influences are still ruling the roost in rural India. Though these underprivileged groups are developed to some extent, however, they still are facing apathy in all fronts. The writer has penned all his stories with social responsibility and always hinted out fight with feudal is the only way to their empowerment. In his ‘Smashananni Dunneru’ he has explained how the mighty people invade the lands for their benefits irrespective of the nature of the land.
In this story, he has emotionally elucidated the trespassing of graveyard with the support of sympathisers in the underprivileged castes. This story reveals how the system supports the landlord to single out the hero character to kill him. The ‘Bairagi’ designs to kill the landlord and prompts “Sambhavami yuge yuge”. This story reflects dialectical materialism and portrayed the conflict of emotions and the critical states of will and mind. This novel tried to sensitise us about our seclusion in groups in opinions and clash of motives. All these stories have carved a special niche in Telugu story literature whose inimitable style always highlighted the plight of Dalits. Unfortunately, he passed away; otherwise, his pen would still have been in the path to motivate the weaker sections of people irrespective of their caste. But he will remain as a permanent memory in the minds of Telugu readers for times immemorial.