Source : Times of India
In July 2016, a coffee-table book was published to commemorate the 70th birthday of eminent Tamil writer Balakumaran, who died on May 15 this year.
Around 130 people close to Balakumaran had jotted down their interactions and impressions of him, as a writer and a human being. In the limited space allotted to the ‘birthday boy’, Balakumaran wrote: “So many have written about me? That only shows how much I have loved the world! The real achievement in life is the art of living with wife, children and grandchildren, and friends, with no misunderstanding. What more bliss can there be if family members continue to share the dining table and the bedroom? When compared to such joy, all other things that go in the name of achievement fade into insignificance.”
It is this peace built on the foundation of love that Balakumaran celebrated in his 273 novels and more than 100 short stories. Sulochana, teacher of 36 years, a Tamil Pandit and voracious reader of both classical and modern Tamil literature, and mother of Balakumaran was the person behind his success as a writer.
Before turning to writing full-time, Balakumaran worked long hours as an officer in a tractor company. He would leave home at 7am. After office, he would go out to meet editors of various weeklies, trudging home only after nine in the evening. He would get back to writing after supper and would go to bed at 4 in the morning. Again, in another three hours he would start for office.
Balakumaran started his writing career as a poet. There was little or no money in it, and therefore he branched out as a short story writer, finally ending up as a novelist.
He soon turned to cinema. He was invited to write scripts for Tamil movies which he gladly accepted and emerged as a great script writer and a much talented dialogue writer, whose lines continue to be the favourite of cine-goers.
One day, just as suddenly as he entered the film world, he decided to exit, devoting all his time to writing novels.
Born in an orthodox brahmin family, Balakumaran was inspired by the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in various versions. There began his quest for the divine. He was barely 25 at that time.
A devotee of Bagwan Yogi Ramsurat Kumar, popularly known as ‘Visiri Samiyar’, Balakumaran adhered to his words. “Balakumaran is my pen. Whatever he writes, it is forever,” the yogi had stated in public. “Just command. It’ll be obeyed,” was the writer’s response to his guru.
Balakumaran then began to churn out his works based on history, mythology, epics, yogic writings, writings on death and above all on the greatness of Hinduism. In every way he coupled literature with spirituality and was able to distinguish a theist from an atheist. He believed that a non-believer is a blessed being and a believer is a seeker of peace.
Balakumaran was definitely a writer with a mission, a force to reckon with in the world of Tamil literature.
(The author is a bilingual writer and a former professor of English in government colleges of Puducherry)