He has lived here for five and half decades. For four decades he taught Special Telugu in the Andhra Loyola College (ALC). The talent of Peddibhotla Subbaramaiah as short-story writer was recognised only recently. The Central Sahitya Akademi conferred on him its prestigious ‘puraskar’ (award).

A few days earlier he was selected for the prestigious Appajosyula Vishnubhotla Kandalam Foundation Award. A rack full of plaques of different materials and types welcomes visitors to the veranda of his house in Hanumanpet. There were many more, but he lost them during the several times he changed his house. Somebody was kind enough to give the rack to put the different plaques and mementoes given to him, he told The Hindu.

It is very evident that Mr. Subbaramaiah is the sensitive and shy types. When the Rotary Club wanted to felicitate him he declined. He asked the club to organise a meeting of writers instead. When they tried to felicitate him at the meeting he refused and narrated a bizarre story.

Mr. Subbaramaiah told the audience that he did not want to be felicitated because of the red chair (red throne like chairs were used at that time for felicitation) because he saw a group of people trying to photograph a dead body after decorating it on such a chair. It is such sensitivity that made him a short-story writer.

The death of a migrant (from Tamil Nadu) factory worker was the inspiration for a story. One day he saw a woman weeping by the body of a man. “People are so indifferent to such scenes, but I stopped and enquired about the couple. I was told that they are from Tamil Nadu. They fell in love and eloped when their families did not agree to their marriage. Their search for a livelihood brought them to Vijayawada. The man became sick here and died leaving the woman behind,” Mr. Subbaramaiah said.

The story he wrote is about a tea shop owner helping the woman, who lost her husband, has no friends and does not even know Telugu. Others attribute motives to this act of kindness and even ostracise the tea shop owner, but the man continues to take care of the woman until people come for her.

The observations made by another migrant worker, this time from the water-parched Rayalaseema became the inspiration for his short-story “Neellu”. “This man was amazed by the high level of water in the wells here. One day we went to see the Krishna river which was in spate. The man said that he never saw so much water in his life. This became the inspiration for a story,” Mr. Subbaramaiah said.

“The plight, anguish, frustrations and the jealousies of middle class people were the raw material of my stories,” he added. He thanks his teachers for his achievements and awards.

Son of a Railway Station Master, Mr. Subbaramaiah did his schooling in Ongole. But for his college he came to Vijayawada and became a student of none other than Viswanatha Satyanaryana, the author of “Veyyi padagalu”, and a lecturer of SRR and CVR College.

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