KADAPA: He’s a well-known writer and scholar in Rayalaseema who researched Rayalaseema literature for his doctoral thesis, which is now used as referral material by those pursuing postgraduate degrees in literature.
But due to the coronavirus crisis, 40-year-old Tavva Venkataiah, who used to be a lecturer at a private degree college, is now a daily-wage construction labourer.
He used to engage in literary discussions with giants in the field, and received accolades from Kendra Sahitya Academy award winners.
But now, when he can’t find work as a construction labourer due to the rains, he tries to land a job as an agricultural labourer with his students, to support his wife Prameela, daughter Keerthana, father Venkatiah and brother Karthik.
Since March, the college where he used to work has been shut due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Venkataiah had asked the college management to loan him some money, but it refused, saying it too was in a financial crisis as the government did not provide its fee reimbursement.
He then borrowed money from his friends to meet his daily needs.
Following this, Venkataiah decided to work as a construction labourer, and now supports his family with his daily earning of Rs 600.
When there is no construction work, he works as a farm hand with his students.
“Even becoming a construction labourer was difficult as several people didn’t employ me saying I am a PhD holder. The ‘respect’ they show doesn’t help in any way. So I go to Chapadu mandal from my village, Tavvurupalle, in Khajipet mandal, for construction work,” he says. Venkataiah points out that he has experience working as a mason, as he did the same while pursuing his studies. The lecturer also expressed his frustration that his studies proved to be useless when he needed it the most.
Several literary friends help Venkataiah
After completing Class X in 1996, he could not properly focus on his Intermediate course as he was also working as a daily-wage labourer at a construction site to make ends meet.
He failed his Intermediate exams a couple of times, but his history teacher Y Prabhakar Reddy and childhood friend Naga Sudhakar Reddy saw his potential and advised him not to give up on his studies, saying education was the key to a better future.
With their encouragement, he continued to pursue his academics while working as a labourer. After his Intermediate, he pursued his degree, BEd (Telugu methodology), MA Telugu, and earned a PhD in Telugu from Yogi Vemana University.
He was encouraged by Prof Rachapalem Chandrasekhra Reddy and Dr Tappet Ramaprasd Reddy to do research, and for four years, he researched ‘Rayalaseema Kadhanika - Tholi Dasa - Oka Adhyananam’ (Rayalaseema literature - first phase - a study), which fetched him a PhD and accolades from the likes of Rachapallem Chandrasekhar Reddy and Kethu Viswanath Reddy, among others.
In 2013, he joined a private degree college as a Telugu lecturer for a monthly salary of Rs 10,000, and continued his research on literature until the Covid-19 outbreak disrupted his life.
On hearing about Venkataiah’s plight, several literary personalities in Kadapa gave him financial support and urged the government to give him a teaching post at Yogi Vemana University.