Kannada author Mogalli Ganesh reflects on writing as a quest for humanity

In Naanembudu Kinchittu, Kannada writer Mogalli Ganesh delivers a moving autobiography that is as much about the complexities of his experiences as a Dalit as it is a commentary on society at large
Mogalli Ganesh
Mogalli Ganesh

BENGALURU: For Mogalli Ganesh, a respected voice in Kannada literature, writing is not just an act of self-expression but a means of liberation. “It’s a way to process and release the haunting memories of my childhood. When I write, it’s like embarking on a quest for humanity in a vast desert,” he explains. This metaphor of society as a desert, where outdated beliefs still linger, serves as a backdrop for the narrative of his latest work – Naanembudu Kinchittu (Beetle combo; Rs 425).

Biographies, and especially autobiographies, often blur the boundaries between reality and creativity. Authors may portray themselves in the most favourable light, accentuating successes and downplaying or omitting less flattering aspects of their lives. Yet, with Naanembudu Kinchittu, which translates to ‘I, The Least’, Ganesh flips this typical script. Opting for a refreshingly humble approach, he presents himself as a mere observer in a larger story.

“I write to search for humanity and justice,” he says, adding that his quest is not just within the self but extends to the structures of society, where he seeks to highlight and dismantle the enduring caste-based prejudices. “Society can be likened to a desert, a landscape with numerous paths. Among these paths, some are main streets fraught with stress and preconceived teachings. In my exploration, I’ve delved into the facets of the Indian mindset, which, despite its apparent beauty, harbours deeply ingrained, archaic beliefs.

Beneath the surface, there lies a readiness to act harshly, reflecting a peculiar human tendency observed worldwide. This tendency towards malevolence is what I am keen to understand and escape from. Unfortunately, even today, the so-called ‘progressive’ or ‘civilised’ mindset in India often fails to align with the beautiful words about humanity that are spoken. The reality is different, and it’s this contrast that I find troubling and worth exploring,” he adds.

Despite the focus on adversity, Ganesh’s writing is imbued with a sense of hope and resilience. He aims to inspire readers with the belief that change is possible and that the human spirit can prevail even in the most challenging circumstances. “Even at the last breath, there is a belief that one can survive,” he says, adding, “The human mind is so powerful; it thinks positively even under extreme circumstances.

Even in the final moments, like at the metaphorical point of my hanging, I still hope for change and for my punishment to be cancelled. I am absolutely hopeful at that moment, filled with positive energy. My writing always carries this positive energy from the beginning to today, presenting the positive because writing may introduce you to different kinds of possibilities.”

This memoir strikes a powerful chord with its universal resonance. Ganesh’s deeply personal experiences transcend the individual, delving into shared truths about hardship and resilience. “I contemplated whom to write for, with whom I could share my experiences. Before writing, I thought I should speak to humans at large, not to a specific caste or region. I should speak universally, presenting all my pains and pleasures, explaining how I navigated various challenges, jumping from one place to another. What I considered before writing was the persistent human tendency – something universal and fundamentally valued,” he adds.

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The New Indian Express