BENGALURU: Everyone who reads Siddalingaiah's literature knows how good he was in literature - in understanding and writing it on paper. There was a fierceness in his poetry, in person, he was well-known for humility. He was also famous for his sense of humour.
Siddalingaiah would crack timely jokes, most of it on himself. All of us would laugh, except him. The poker face was part of his act. This quality of him attracted me always.
It was in early 80s, I was into theatre and literature and I would hang with Baraguru Ramachandra, DR Nagaraj and others. One day, when I went to Bengaluru University along with my friends, I met him while he was in his final year of MA course in Kannada. I just impressed with him, you can say that the first impression is the best one. After this, we met at many literary events.
In 1983, when noted Kannada cinema director Puttanna Kanagal was directing Dharani Mandala Madhyadolage movie, I suggested Kanagal, Siddalingiah's name for penning songs for this movie, Kanagal was more than happy. Siddalingiah wrote two songs for the film and won an award too.
Later in 1995, I directed Mukha-Mukhi, my first ever Kannada TV serial for which I approached him for the title song.
Whenever we meet, he would always address me as "Gurugale''.
When he was nominated for an MLC seat, he called me and asked me to come near Vidhana Soudha Gate. I was wondering why he called me to the Vidhana Soudha when he was supposed to file the nomination.
The man couldn't pass through the gate because the police and security personale did not know him and therefore didn't allow him. He had to ring me up to get in.
State government provides writers, those working in theatre, residential sites. He never demanded for a site, but he was allotted one.
After he presided over the Kannada Sahithya Sammelana, he had said to me about the one room on the top floor of his site just to keep the Peta (turban). "Wherever I went, people gave me Petas. I can neither throw them nor wear them, so I constructed a room to keep them," he had added.
He had spoken to me a day before he was admitted to the hospital. I cannot imagine, he is not there. I am going to miss him, miss his writing, his companionship and more importantly, his humour.
(As told to Ashwini M Sripad)