CHENNAI: On a cold Saturday evening, within the pleasantly warm confines of the Kaviko Manram was gathered an eclectic assortment of people. Retired back staff, movie directors with steady hits to their name, individuals from a handful of government departments, a high court justice, a university vicechancellor and a bunch of students, among others.
If not for their love for literature, these strangers, acquaintances, award show buddies and the most earnest of friends would have little else in common. But, with Kavithai Uravu to prop them and bring them together, they didn’t need much else.
This time around, it was the magazine’s 48th anniversary and annual award ritual that had the patrons braving the odds of a pandemic and reuniting with kindred spirits. Ervadi Rathakrishnan, founder of the magazine, remarks that literature is the second most important thing in life.
And that's why he has no dearth of enthusiasts involved in the magazine's affairs. "For a cash prize of just 2,000, we have people spending ten times as much and getting here from Tirunelveli and Singapore and the like," he notes.
This year was no different. Around 200 people had showed up for the evening, to commemorate the release of the latest edition of Kavithai Uravu and honour the best works for the year in Tamizh literature (novels, short stories, essays and poems). The guests invited to felicitate the achievers were no less passionate about the project.
Onboard were Dr S Gowri, vice-chancellor of Madras University; Dr. G. Vijayaraghavan, director of International Institute of Tamil Studies; and Justice S Rajeswaran -- all of them enthusiastically responding to the call from the team.
While Rathakrishnan and his people do literature pretty well, they haven’t forgotten to do as much for their first tenet of manithaneyam -- humanity. Mindful of how much the pandemic has upturned the lives of people around them, they started a virtual charity box project titled Karunai Koodai in September.
And donations began pouring in, from hundred rupees or two to a few thousands. "It was the middle-class people who contributed the most. We didn't have to go to corporates, begging for donations. Common people did as much as they could," he points out.
When they finally closed the initiative in December, they had collected over Rs 2 lakh. And it went to those who had lost their jobs to the crisis. Kavithai Uravu continues to function with the revenue it generates and the generous contributions of its patrons. Of the latter, there are plenty, it seems.
“In Tamil Nadu and abroad, people love this organisation. And that gives my soul great satisfaction,” shares Rathakrishnan, pointing out the reason he continues to keep the magazine as robust as it ever was even as he turns 74 years. Not surprisingly, he ended Saturday’s event with an invitation for next year’s anniversary celebration.
To contribute to the magazine (in cash or kind), call Rathakrishnan: 9444107879