CHENNAI: Feminist and acclaimed author Rajam Krishnan (89), under treatment for the past few years, passed away on Monday night at a city hospital.
Born in the small town of Musiri in Tiruchy district in 1925, she was a pioneer in turning the focus of creative writing to women.
A recipient of New York Herald Tribune International award in 1950 for a short story, she received the coveted Sahitya Akademi Award in 1973 and Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1975. She was honoured with several other awards such Kalaimagal award in 1953 and Thiru Vi Ka Award in 1991.
Making an exception to the rule that only the works of deceased authors are considered for nationalisation, the DMK government in 2009, nationalised her works and paid `3 lakh for her treatment.
Born in a conservative family, she married Krishnan, an electrical engineer at the age of 15. Understanding her thirst for learning, Krishnan encouraged her to read many books and she started writing at the age of 16. Endowed with a keen sense of observation, her novels covered a wide spectrum of social issues and had characters carrying the message that women are indispensable tools of social change. Prior to taking to the pen, she studied the subject first hand by staying with the people around whom the story revolved. As such, her works transcended social divides, apart from being an inspiration for many.
A childless widow, the prolific writer who took refuge in a home for the aged, was treated at the free ward for the poor at a private hospital. It is said Rajam Krishnan was cheated of her properties by relatives.
Her biographical novel Padhaiyil Padintha Adigal chronicles the life of a young Dalit girl from her marriage to widowhood, and the evolution of Manalur Maniamma as a leader during the agrarian struggle in the 1940s. It was her novel Verukku Neer which earned her the Akademi award.
Popular author Nanjil Nadan, another Akademi award winner, recalls reading Rajam’s novels and short stories when he was a budding writer.
She chose to base her works on progressive themes about women and the working class, Nadan said while commenting on her work.
Veteran CPI leader R Nallakannu, CPM functionaries and office-bearers of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association were among those who paid their last respects to the late writer at the hospital. CPM State secretary G Ramakrishnan and his CPI counterpart D Pandian condoled the demise of Rajam Krishnan.
According to her wish, the body was donated to the hospital where she was treated for research.