For a tiny group of writers of progressive thinking, social responsibility is the motto. These writers pursuing different philosophies have made the language richer and more diversified with their conscientious contributions since 50s when the Left movement had started gaining momentum in the countryside.
Taking the social issues through literature has been their main agenda and the 75-year-old K. Chinnappa Bharathi of Namakkal is no exception to it.
KCB, as he is popularly known, is a realistic and progressive writer. Chinnappan, a peasant, became Chinnappa Bharathi when the fiery bard possessed him during his salad days. Got schooled in the Marxian philosophy, he has taken up the cause of peasants and the oppressed which he has detailed in his works.
But what keeps him singularly apart from those who have made significant contributions to the progressive genre is his innate ‘feel' for the anguished and the oppressed, mainly the working class, which has got translated into the graphic literary renderings. According to literary critics they would move even the ‘stoniest hearts.'
Bharathi blends humanism with Marxism, which is his forte. His narration is spontaneous but strong and prompts angst in readers' minds but never turns them into a mob of sadists. It makes them understand the sufferings. Pathos has always been a thread running all through his works. His elegant language is simple and down to earth as is his humane approach to the ills in society.
When you finish his works, whether it is Sangam or Dhagam, Pavalayee, Surangam and Sarkarai, you could feel a tinge of sadness lingering in the dark abyss of subconscious mind.
‘Surangam' (The Mine) revolving around the struggles of coal miners in West Bengal and Jharkand is the first novel in India on their tormented life. ‘Dhagam' (Thirst) narrates the woes of small farmers, particularly Dalits, who remain bonded labourers under the yoke of landed class.
‘Sangam' details the trauma of tribal people in Kolli Hills in Namakkal district. ‘Sarkarai' (Sugar) tells the bitter plight of cane growers and sugar mill workers while ‘Pavalayee', akin to the works of fiery novelist Yashpal, speaks on gender disparity and women suppression. ‘Deivammai Nindran' exhibits his command over the poetic sensibility and sets a platform for a fresh outlook for a healthy Dalit literature.
In fact, those who savour his writings could not miss his yearning for an egalitarian society, which Dr B R Ambekar visualised. This is delicately weaved into his creations. “Any creator must have an experience and it must be based on social realism,” asserts Bharathi.
Talking to The Hindu, he says that creative works sans social responsibility can only reflect the perverted mindset of an individual writer. “Their works can be nothing but the cheap products of self-endorsement of a diseased mind.”
For him a good literary work should play a catalyst role in reader's mind for a positive outcome.
“It should whip up anger against the social inequalities and the works that create such emotions alone can be called ‘good.'
All others are mere entertainers of fleeting temptations. My works are the guiding light to liberate the oppressed from the shackles of social bondage and to establish a new social order. My objective is to integrate the working class and take up the fight against those feudal lords.”
Though Governments are yet to come forward to support his works, progressive fora nation wide have translated his pieces into different languages, including in Chinese.
“I am turning my writing into a powerful tool to usher in social awakening.” Yes, he has received many awards and encomiums. But he has not received recognition from Sahitya Academy and Gnana Peedam though his works have been translated in more than 10 languages besides English, French and in Chinese.
He has been compared by noted critics with Pearl S. Buck, Leo Tolstoy, Kenyan Ku Ko Wa Thiong'o and Thagali Siva Sankaran Pillai.
But he betrays no anguish. “I am not worried. But my literary pursuit with social commitment will continue,” he concludes.