Poet Da. Ra. Bendre paid a tribute to some of the early women writers through his poems. He wrote about Tirumale Rajamma, Belagere Janakamma and his poem on Kodagina Gouramma, on her unfortunate premature dearh is unmistakably elegiac in nature. The poem titled “Tangi Gouramma” was published in his collection “Namana” released nearly 20 years (1958) after Gouramma's death. The release of the collection however, may not have been the year in which the poem was written. On reading this poem, one infers how overcome by grief Bendre was at the death of Gowramma, who was so immensely gifted as a writer.

The poem, a sonnet, describes the nature of the tragedy in its octet and acquires the nature of a personal comment in the sestet that follows. Gouramma, as was her usual practise, went for her evening swim and drowned in the cold currents. From the interview with her son B.G. Vasant in “Mareyalagada Kathegalu: Kodagina Gouramma”, who was a boy of eight when his mother passed away, you learn that it may have been due to suffocation.

The poem in translation —

Sister Gowramma

At the happy communion of the goddesses of water and woods

You dived into the beckoning inlet, its familiar waters,

This mother embracing the bosom of her mother river

died; did the warm Cauvery go callously cold?

I shudder in recollection – oh, how did it happen?

Where from did death creep upon a life yet so tender?

Cords of love of the beloved, child and friends

Failed to tug you back – oh, how did you go under?


Angelically clad, fair and cherished Gauri

Shining bright in the firmament, a daughter of Cauvery

A picture of purity, cast in moonlight,

Early steps doused her in glory bright

Dawn's dewdrops carry compassionate tears

Your gift to life was a shower of cheery drops.

(Translated by Deepa Ganesh)


Pioneering stepsMarch 1, 2012