Karuppum Veluppum by DC Kizhakkemuri (Dee Cee) is a collection of snippets written by him in his eponymous column which was very popular and ran for about five decades (1940s to 1990s) in newspapers such as Pouraprabha, Keralabhooshanam, Mathrubhumi and weeklies such as Manorajyam. Each snippet is structured in a ‘ping-pong’ mode, that begins with a hot news headline or one line statement taken from yesterday’s newspapers, followed by a cryptic comment or response by DC to it.
Here are some samples from the book:
News Item: “I don’t pay much value to the by-election results of South Calcutta”- Nehru
DC’s Comment: “But people do. Fools!”
News: “In Tellicherry, Congressmen beat up Socialist leaders”
DC: “Non-violence: 1950 Model”
News: “Water Authority hikes price of water”
DC: “Price hike for milk and toddy”
News: “Left Front will capture power with silent votes” - EMS
DC: “Their rule too will be silent then. Great boon for a sound-polluted Kerala”
Thematically, this anthology of repartees is divided into three parts, namely, ‘State Politics’, ‘National and International Politics’ and finally ‘Society, Culture and Literature’. They deal with a wide variety of personalities and topics, all the while maintaining its verbal brevity and satirical punch. What make these terse snippets a very interesting read even now is that they are consistently funny and acerbic in their tone and tenor.
Language-wise, they are replete with turns of phrase and frequent puns. On the one, it was a column that was irreverent to one and all, on the other, was its facility with a use of language that bordered on a retort or tit for tat response to many things it referred to. Most of the time, politicians constitute its butt, with a few cultural and literary figures too making their occasional appearance. Even though very critical of many unfounded claims and highflying rhetoric of the politicians, ‘Black & White’ always maintained its ideological distance and cool in its responses to them, never transgressing the boundaries of civility and mutual respect. The latter is what makes the column a rarity to the contemporary newspaper reader/media consumer who is flooded with verbal abuse and unfounded allegations.
The possible reason why such columns based on news and political figures and issues became such a huge success was that they vibed well with the public at large in Kerala who are addicted to newspaper reading, and who too, in their own immediate circles – whether it be a library, reading room, tea or toddy shop – made similar comments in their heated debates with their peers. It is such warm camaraderie and sense of humour that we miss in present day columns that are most often set to a certain agenda or bent on abuse and scoring points.
For those who have lived through those times, this book provides a panoramic journey through history and personalities; for the young, it will be an invitation to feel the pulse of post-Independence Indian politics and its various trysts.
Dee Cee, DC Books, Rs. 250