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Charukesi — a scribe and a gentleman

N. Murali (centre), releasing the book, Mridanga Medhai Palakkad Mani Iyer, written by Charukesi (left). With them is V. Sriram

N. Murali (centre), releasing the book, Mridanga Medhai Palakkad Mani Iyer, written by Charukesi (left). With them is V. Sriram   | Photo Credit: R_Shivaji Rao

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For Friday Review, the departure of Charukesi leaves a vacuum hard to fill

He was leading a kind of retired life for over a year but was cheerful whenever contacted. Not one given to lengthy conversations, he brushed aside concerned enquiries about his health. “I’m fine,” he said. So one was not actually prepared for news about his demise. A multi-faceted writer, Charukesi could handle both dance and music but his forte was literature. And his contribution to the supplement in this genre has been invaluable.

From identifying a new release to obliging with a review, he made good use of Friday Review’s Books page, with an endearing detachment. An author and translator himself, he was the link to the literary world and was eager to profile talented writers, especially whom the spotlight eluded. Promptly a mail acknowledging publication would be in the Inbox on Friday morning. It is significant that he interviewed Asokamitran for the supplement. It turned out to be the legend’s last. That could be said of Balakumaran too — the author’s conversation with Charukesi might well have been one of his last to get printed.

Stunning variety

Publishing house Kalachuvadu got a fillip when Kannan Sundaram opened out to Charukesi. The prolific Erode Tamilanban, icon Narasaiah, Sa. Kandasami, to mark Sayavanam’s golden jubilee, the immortal Devan... the list is long and the variety stunning. That the late Prof. Selvaganapathy had compiled five massive volumes on Saivism came as a revelation when Charukesi proposed a write-up. The last piece that he wrote in this category for Friday Review was about Anthology of short stories by women writers, a book by A. Vennila. A woman on women authors — Charukesi was keen that it should be noticed.

Simple and unassuming, Charukesi would seldom turn down requests. He was so humble that he did not inform the paper when he was felicitated for completing 60 years in the field, in 2016. A critic informed and the supplement carried a report in which we congratulated him on crossing a milestone and wished him many more years of writing. Equally skilled in Tamil, his articles were published in many journals, including their Deepavali special volumes. Profiles, interviews, travelogues... his repertoire was rich.

As a founder-member of the Natyarangam Committee, he lent quiet support during their annual thematic event, coordinating and liaising with the press. Charukesi Viswanathan, the slim figure that could be spotted walking the streets of Alwarpet in long brisk strides, will be missed by all those who loved art and literature. And for the Desk, who can fill the void left by this gentleman writer, who only saw the goodness in people and was eager to highlight it?

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 3:17:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/charukesi-gentleman-scribe/article26138048.ece

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