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A perfectionist writer

Ghandikota Brahmaji Rao. - -Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

"Not everybody can write, and there are people who cannot live without writing. I belong to the second category. From high school days I had this tremendous urge to write. Initially, like most writers, I also enjoyed seeing my name in print and the recognition that followed. But as life progressed, my values became definite. I wanted to write about certain life-observations, and wrote!"

The near-octogenarian author, Ghandikota Brahmaji Rao, who started writing in Telugu in 1938 itself, grins gently through his serious exterior.

Though he retired from the engineering profession in 1980 and had an extended service for another year as a special officer in Haldia port, there was no retirement for him from literary activity.

Brahmaji Rao believes in interaction with people. Despite the wayward behaviour of the people he dealt with, he remained a perfectionist in his writings, not catering for the dictates of the reader. Yet, what he wrote has been accepted and appreciated by most readers owing to the human element he inserts into his works. There is no particular need to resort to humour to make understanding of a point easy to the reader. The story is told in a simple manner, the content being not so simple. What he conveys is applicable to all age groups, with maximum emphasis given to values. With changing times the messages in his stories, too, underwent a gradual transition, but always keeping a focus on ethics. "I live with my subject and experience it thoroughly before putting it on paper. I like most of my peer group writers. We often discuss things and this interaction keeps the idea flow fresh and up to date. But I don't approve of people who say they want to reform society---the Leftist mentality. It doesn't happen that way. "My family is very supportive to my literary activity. My wife reads what I write. They leave me alone, understanding the need for privacy and solitude. There are a few members in the family, like my third daughter, son and granddaughter who also write a bit. I enjoy and sometimes admire their work. There are some students who are doing research on my books. I guide them and find it quite satisfying as an activity. "A person with no great ambitions, Brahmaji Rao enjoys the place given to him in the literary field. He attributes this recognition entirely to his profession, which formed the major content of all his books and stories. "I am a humanist. Life is a learning process in itself. If living can be moulded according to the messages received, all is well. I learn from others' lives. If my life can become a source for learning to others I shall find that I am living for a purpose. I live for writing, identifying myself with everything I write. I cannot separate myself from the literary aspect, though I am ever a student! "The humility in his voice is genuine. One nods in total agreement. Brahmaji Rao has a large family, which includes seven daughters. Theirs is a joint family without much conflict and with the usual family adjustments. "We are a closely-knit family. I am duty-bound. I have fulfilled my obligations to my parents. I also have done my best to my children who are all well settled in life. Financially we are all comfortable, though my own career started in a small way,'' he says. Brahmaji Rao likes to mention translation of the `Arabian Nights' and Sundara Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayanam into Telugu, as his important works. While `Arabian Nights' was an intellectual exercise, Sundara Kanda was a spiritual experience. It restored peace in his life during a slight turbulent situation. At 79, he is fit as a fiddle and keeps it so with morning walks. "Important events?'' They are reflected in my writings. "His most inspired work?'' Pratima, a novel about Bengali culture, which evolved while I worked at Calcutta Port Trust.'' At present Brahmaji Rao is working on a research project on English short stories. Also writing something called `Kathanika- Kamameeshoo'. His works almost totally revolve around life on the Railways. He was the first ever man to have written in detail in Telugu about an engine driver, a railway `kharkhana', about a major rail accident and about the lack of work facilities in mechanical department after Independence. That all these won him awards is the remarkable feature. Amongst his short stories, he mentions as his best: `Guide Dog', `Malupu', `Idee Katha' (won an award), `Mayurakshi' (from a compilation of short stories of the same name), `Cheppu Thinedu Kukka' (another award winner) and `Arohana-Avarohana'. The novel, `Vijayawada Junction' was a thriller having won the first prize in a competition. `Sramika Sakatam' was a novel and the first prize winner in a competition. There were two more novels, which also won him prizes. Ghandikota Brahmaji Rao is a writer to reckon with, and a man of tradition. Interaction with him leaves one with the feeling that here is a person who learnt from life, told about it to people and gives to the world a part of himself - a part we definitely like to cherish!


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