Andhra Pradesh

Doing the write thing to relish life

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Wife of eminent Telugu writer Butchi Babu, Subbalakshmi is a talented writer and painter in her own right

At 91, Sivaraju Subbalakshmi lives with rare zest or life, radiating passion. Wife of eminent Telugu short story writer, novelist and painter Sivaraju Venkata Subbarao, popular as Butchi Babu, Ms. Subbalakshmi is a talented writer and painter in her own right.

She was in the city recently after attending her husband’s centenary celebrations in Eluru.

“It feels strange to be in this city after a gap of almost 50 years,” she says recalling the days of the 1940s and early 50s when her husband worked in All-India Radio here. “Ever since I came here, I find resonance of the name ‘Amaravati’. It’s good that this region is set for large-scale development but the common man should be given access to the new facilities,” the socialist in her speaks out.

She married Butchi Babu in 1937 when she was all of 12 years and ever since then the couple has been inseparable. “She has kept Butchi Babu alive all these years by doing whatever she can to preserve his works for posterity,” informs Subba Rao, her son who, in her own words, is “my only weakness”.

The novel Chivaraku migiledi is Butchi Babu’s most celebrated work. The book was serialised in the Telugu magazine Navodaya in1946-47. It was published in a book form in 1952 and in 1957 it was published by Adarsha Grandha Mandali and became a best seller.

Ask her about her inspiration for writing and she says: “My husband was a writer. Most people would ask me what I was doing and so I started writing too.” She has written nearly 50 short stories besides novels like Adrushta rekha, Neelam getu ayyagaru and Teerpu. Portrayal of middle class woman is her forte and most of her protagonists exhibit rare resilience that help them overcome life’s difficulties.

Subbalakshmi fondly remembers the good times she had with her husband until his untimely demise in 1967. A woman of strong will power, she lives life on her own terms. “She is the queen of the kitchen and can dish out an array of lip-smacking delicacies in a jiffy. She still paints and cooks,” says her son Subba Rao.

Talk to her about anything, take the conversation anywhere, it veers back to Butchi Babu; such is her attachment with him. Butchi Babu’s best paintings are all gone, given away by him to people as gifts. Determined to preserve his remaining works for posterity, Subbalakshmi compiled them along with her paintings into a book published by the Visalandhra Publications. “It’s named ‘Nature in Thought’,” she informs. “She insisted that she would bear the cost with her pension money for this particular project,” says her son.

As part of his centenary celebrations, Subbalakshmi plans to organise an exhibition of Butchi Babu’s works in Hyderabad on June 14. “I want to do all I can to popularise his works in whatever time I have left with me,” she says.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 1:57:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/doing-the-write-thing-to-relish-life/article7905154.ece

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