Translated [1] excerpts from https://www.mathrubhumi.com/books/interview/b-jeyamohan-arunmozhi-nangai-1.3014145


“Those [letters] were written without consulting the brain. But I am sure the best phrases I have ever written were in those letters that not many have read.” (From Uravidangal [Sources], Matrubhumi Books.) Arunmozhi Nangai’s dimples bloom as she reveals to us the letters she’s been treasuring for the past twenty seven years.

*

“Bring home the rain’s wetness; let my barren abode sprout life.”

Verses from a letter Jeyamohan wrote Arunmozhi, two decades ago. Life, hopes, love and uncertainties weave themselves into those lines. In 1991, twenty-one year old Arunmozhi Nangai was a student at the Madurai Agricultural College; she was a critical spirit, with literature in her veins. Arunmozhi and Tamizh Chelvi—a colleague—come across a news item in the then-freshly-published Tamil literary magazine, Kaniani, of young writer Jeyamohan winning the Akhi Moon Award for a novel called Rubber. It was hard work to sign up for a subscription to little magazines back then. So it was after a long wait Arunmozhi could finally lay her hands on the text. Reading it, she felt the lives in the story touch her own. She then wrote a lengthy letter to the up-and-coming author, Jeyamohan.

“Is Rubber, dubbed modernist literature, meant for you alone to read? Don’t you know how difficult it is for readers to find written work published through little magazines?’ The criticism, scathing, stretched on…

Having read the letter, the young author could not forget the letter-writer’s name—a girl from the land of Janakiraman and Kaveri; Arunmozhi Nangai. Eight days later, the author replied: he had written a similar one [fan letter] to Sundara Ramaswamy many moons before and he had known the great Sundara ramaswamy through a little magazine. Even post posting the letter, Jeyamohan couldn’t get the girl’s name out of his head. The harder he tried, the more clarity the name seemed to acquire.

“I still don’t know what was going on in Arunmozhi’s mind as she wrote that first letter; was it love? was it adoration for the author?” Jeyamohan reminisces.

*

A March 1991 evening, under the canopy of Deodars, they walked the lanes of Madurai Agricultural College. Jeyamohan returned to Dharmapuri and wrote a 10-page letter to Arunmozhi…

“I don’t think a girl [Arunmozhi] can endure all this…

She was 54 when my mother commited suicide. Behind suicides in old age, there must be some kind of grand vision. Her “Jeya, Jeya” calls used to drive me mad. As I would reach the toddy shop for some semblance of solace, my father’s insistence on not drinking would come back to haunt my mind… Then there was the wait at the Kumbala Railway track to end it all, then leaving it all to keep on with the journey all alone. I saw India.

Now I call myself a writer, my life is the writing I do; no hope for riches or fame from this. I am preparing myself for a life of defeat. If you are in love with that too, you may join.” Arunmozhi Nangai wept as she read the letter.


1: Attempted, anyway.


Jeyamohan B., Tamil-Malayalam Author. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._Jeyamohan

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