LIFE

A literary giant

NANJIL NADU, the country's southernmost corner comprising Kanyakumari district, has produced several stalwarts. Nesamony, Jeevanandam and N.S. Krishnan, to name only a few.

Desikavinayakam Pillai (1876-1954), popularly known as `Kavimani,' is one such personality whose contributions to Tamil Nadu and Tamil literature are particularly noteworthy.

Starting his career as a Tamil teacher in an elementary school, he retired as a Tamil lecturer from Maharaja's Women's College, Thiruvananthapuram. But, it was his writings that earned him more than a special place in modern Tamil literature.

One of his works, "Malarum Maalaiyum (1938)," turned out to be a trend-setter as it was considered the first of its kind in the field of children's literature, that too in Tamil. Similarly, Pillai's "Deviyin Kirthanaigal (1953)," which was full of musicial compositions, came at a time of systematic attempts to revive Tamil music.

He also translated many works into Tamil from English, including Edwin Arnold's "Light of Asia" and "Rubaiyat" of Omar Khayyam as rendered by Fitzgerald. Besides, many of his songs were used in Tamil feature films. Pillai was one of those who fought for the merger of Kanyakumari with Tamil Nadu.

Pillai's family and Tamil lovers want the Postal Department to issue a commemorative stamp in honour of the late literary figure.

The department has a record of having released stamps in memory of `Kavimani's' important contemporaries, Bharathi, Bharatidasan and Namakkal Ramalingam, they say.

It certainly will be fitting honour for a pioneer in modern Tamil literature.

From Ramakrishnan T. in Chennai.

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