Telugu original : Ooru, vaada, batuku, published by Hyderabad Book Trust, May 2009
Author : Devulapalli Krishnamurthi
Translator : Gita Ramaswamy
Word count : 50,000
Devulapalli Krishnamurthi’s autobiography, Life in Anantharam, is an important work which offers an unvarnished account of life in a Telangana village, specifically Anantharam near Suryapet and between Penpadu and Dosapadu villages. The period he covers is the nineteen forties – an important period for Telangana when the Telangana peasant movement changed the face of this land. The author captures the nuances of rural life from inside, recreating the everyday idiom of this region through proverbs and songs, so many of them strung through the text, like in a traditional katha with the storyteller moving smoothly between prose and verse. There is a strong oral quality to the book, as if he were speaking aloud.
The book ranges freely and widely over objects, people (groups and individuals), festivals and entertainment, poverty and politics, education, songs, stray encounters and it is one person’s sensibility (though an unobtrusive one) and his extraordinarily vivid memory that holds it all together. Although it can feel a little random, perhaps that is in the nature of a work of this kind and is what makes it so distinctive.
Devulapalli Krishnamurthy (born 1940) lived a most unobtrusive life as a civil servant of the Government of Andhra Pradesh in the small towns and villages of Telangana. After he retired in 1998, he set about writing about the many people and incidents that he had seen in his career. His first book, Ooru vaada batuku was published in 2009 and was received with rave reviews in Andhra Pradesh. Subsequently, he went on to write Ma Yaatra, Kathalagoodu, Baita Gudise, Taaru Maaru – all four books vignettes of the human condition – and published in the short span of five years. He lives in the small town of Nakrekal in Telangana.
The translator Gita Ramaswamy works with the Hyderabad Book Trust. She has earlier worked extensively with agricultural labourers on the issue of land entitlements.
The translation requires editing. Readers are requested to send suggestions for change to [email protected] All feedback is welcome.